By Sabrina Brashares for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Hunter competition once again took the spotlight on the Derby Field at Equestrian Village on Friday. Thirty-four of the top hunter horse-and-rider combinations entered the $15,000 USHJA International Derby “Hunt and Go” for their chance to win the top prize. With impressive performances in both the classic round and handy portion, Elizabeth Towell Boyd and Sherri Crawford’s Carento earned the victory in the class with an overall score of 351.
The class was held in a “Hunt and Go” format, with the first eight fences counting towards the classic round and then the final six jumps being the handy phase. Ken Krome designed a technical course including four high option fences, a trot jump, and a “bounce” element. Riders were also asked to walk a circle in between the classic and handy phases.
First in the order of go, Boyd, of Camden, SC, and Carento set the pace with a classic round score of 173 and a handy round score of 178. The duo held onto the top spot throughout the remainder of the competitive class. Boyd is no stranger to this hunter derby and also earned a first place finish in 2019 aboard Tradition.
“I really studied the course, and all the riders and I talked,” explained Boyd. “I like how Ken Krome broke it up and let us walk a complete loop, and I think for the rider and the horse that was nice. I felt [Carento] take a deep breath, I took a deep breath, and then we were able to think about the handy and it gave us a minute to rock back on our hind end and reorganize. I hope for the future that is something course designers continue to do. I think it’s nice for the judges [too]. It gives them a minute, and it gives the riders and horses a minute.”
Despite the challenges of being first to go, Boyd and the 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Caretino navigated around the difficult course with ease. Boyd knew that she could trust her seasoned partner to step up to the plate and enjoy competing on the field.
“He is just so made up and has had so many miles, so this is a great venue for him,” described Boyd. “It was to my advantage that the weather changed and it was a little cool and shadowy because he is such a seasoned derby horse that nothing really scares him. What I liked is that he just picked up a gallop and stayed loose with a nice long rein. He went very hunter-style and made a great effort, didn’t touch a jump, and was so smooth. It was really fun, and when he is like that he’s easy to ride.”
“Sherri Crawford is a wonderful owner,” continued Boyd. “She flats him and trail rides him, and I think that her and Kitty Barker have done a really good job managing an older horse. The hardest thing when they get older, a little bit like a Brunello situation, is to really keep them happy and don’t get greedy and show too much. We waited and asked him to peak this week, and he did.”
This was an emotional victory for Boyd, who dedicated the win to her head groom, Alberto Ramirez.
“My head groom who has been with us for 20 years and took care of Brunello was diagnosed with Leukemia yesterday, so I really rode for Alberto today,” said Boyd. “We don’t ever do derbies without him so I rode for him today to make him proud.”
Not far behind in points were Jennifer Hannan, of Wakefield, RI, and her own Olympic Fire who took home second place. The pair received a score of 169.25 in the classic round, a score of 177.50 in the handy phase, and an overall score of 346.75. Third place honors went to Boyd on her second mount Cassico, owned by Rebekah Warren, with a total score of 345.85. The pair earned a score of 169.85 in the first round and a handy score of 176.
Final Results: $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Hunt & Go
Horse, Rider, Owner
Round 1 Score, Round 2 Score | Total
1. Carento, Elizabeth Towell Boyd, Sherri Crawford
173.00, 178.00 | 351.00
2. Olympic Fire, Jennifer Hannan, Jennifer Hannan
169.25, 177.50 | 346.50
3. Cassico, Elizabeth Towell Boyd, Rebekah Warren
169.85, 176.00 | 345.85
4. Red Ryder, Hannah Isop, Tracy Freels
164.00, 177.50 | 341.50
5. Catena 5, Julia Weiss, Julia Weiss
170.01, 171.00 | 341.01
6. Cascartini, Havens Schatt, Ken and Amy Wexler LLC
173.00, 168.00 | 341.00
7. Mindful, Jennifer Hannan, Kensel, LLC
161.00, 174.00 | 335.00
8. Chappy, Greg Crolick, Carole Chase
166.50, 166.00 | 332.50
9. SVF On My Own, Maria Rasmussen, Sunset View Farm LLC
163.00, 169.00 | 332.00
10. Poker Face, Jennifer Bliss, Harris Hill Farm, LLC
162.01, 163.00 | 325.01
11. Zalandra, Hannah Isop, Harry Littler
162.00, 163.00 | 325.00
12 Charismo, Penny Lombardo, Joyce L. Kutcher
163.50, 161.00 | 324.50