Lexington, KY – May 23, 2021 – The StoneLea Ring kicked off Sunday morning with the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, wrapping up the final day of competition at the Kentucky Spring Classic. A total of 36 junior, amateur and professional athletes took center stage to showcase their skills in the decorated derby ring. Three talented pairs emerged victorious, with Christina Kelly riding Monique, Libbie Gordon on Ascott and Campbell Brown aboard Fleetwood laying down two jaw-dropping rounds to make up the podium for the class.
Course designer Jason Shelley laid out a beautiful course of 10 obstacles for the first round where horse-and-rider combinations could open up their horse’s step and showcase their big strides and powerful jumps. Several pairs found difficulty in the first round with maintaining a consistent stride, and the jumps at the end of the arena caught many horses off guard. The handy round consisted of several bending lines, a trot jump and many track options for the riders to highlight their handiness. Topping the leaderboard at the end of round one was Gordon aboard Ascott after earning a score of 88 from the judges. Sitting in the second position was Christina Kelly on her mount Monique, earning a score of 85.5 for their efforts.
Campbell was first to tackle the handy round aboard Fleetwood, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by MMK Equestrian LLC, and impressed judges with their fluidity, forward pace and correct form over each jump. The dynamic duo came to the Kentucky Spring series with tremendous success at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in the Junior 3’3″ Hunters. Campbell and Fleetwood are new to the derby ring but did not disappoint and produced two consistent rounds, earning a total score of 169 when combined with their second-round score of 84, which would help them secure a third-place finish amongst the top hunter athletes.
Sitting in the second place position going into the handy round, Kelly aboard Monique, a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood Mare owned by Donna Struve, continued to impress the judges with her excellent form, an excited expression, huge stride and handiness, which would help her emerge victorious in Sunday’s USHJA National Hunter Derby with a second-round score of 90 and total score of 175.5. The dynamic pair came into the National Derby with major success from week one at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, earning a top 10 finish in the USHJA International Hunter Derby. Kelly spoke highly of the mare and looks forward to their continued success in the derby ring.
Gordon was last to try her hand at the handy round and would make every effort to keep her first-place standing from round one aboard Ascott, a 7-year-old Hanovarian gelding owned by Ashland Farms. Try as they might, a second-round score of 85 would leave Gordon and Ascott on a final score of 173, just shy of Kelly’s overall total. The new horse and rider team had great success later in the season at WEF with several top finishes in the Junior 3’6″ Hunters. Ascott is new to the derby ring, but Gordon rode him to two grand rounds and impressed the judges with their even pace, great form and handiness they demonstrated in both rounds.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Christina Kelly – $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby winner
“We got her during the circuit at the [Winter Equestrian Festival]. Donna Struve is her owner and had her down in Wellington and she very kindly gave her back to us midway through the season so that we could do the derbies. We wanted to be able to have a derby horse. It has been really fun, I got to do some big derbies down there and we have been creeping up in the pack. We got 12th and 8th, and then we were 6th last week in the USHJA International Hunter Derby. We are kind of creeping up there now. I feel like we are finally getting to know each other very well and she is so fun in the handy. We are teaming up real well now.”
On handy round:
“I think it went really well. We were planning that inside turn to an inside turn on the landing, and I think that was my main thing to get done. It turned out to ride way easier than I thought once I got in there. She loves the handy and always steps up to the challenge. She was super at the trop jump and I think it all rode well. She kind of builds, so I thought we may get a little strong to the end but she listened really well today and was a very good girl.”
On upcoming plans:
“We go to [Traverse City] next and then head over to [Blowing Rock] and hopefully she will be good there for the derby. Then we will be back to Kentucky for USHJA International Derby Finals and the Green Hunter Incentive Finals. I always love showing here in Kentucky, so I am excited to get back.”
On Kentucky Horse Shows:
“I love it and have missed it a lot. I used to live here, so I kind of feel like it is home. It has been a while since I have been able to come back to a horse show here so it has been great and I just love it. We stay at the campgrounds, so it has been a lot of fun. I also love that we can go ride out in the cross country field and allow the horses to be horses. It really is just a lovely horse show venue.”
$5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Monique / Christina Kelly / Donna Struve / 85.5 / 90 / 175.5
2. Ascott / Libbie Gordon / Ashland Farms / 88 / 85 / 173
3. Fleetwood / Campbell Brown / MMK Equestrian LLC / 85 / 84 / 169
4. No Doubt / Jeff Gogul / Roaring Brook LLC / 80 / 87 / 167
5. Constantin / Anna Koenig / Ashland Farms / 84 / 82.5 / 166.5
6. Coppertone / Oliva Sweetnam / Sweet Oak Farms / 81.5 / 81 / 162.5
7. Stellar / Daniela Casline / Daniela Casline / 81 / 80 / 162.5
8. Nantucket / Meagan Murray-Tenuta / Clear 4 Tackoff LLC / 78.5 / 82 / 160.5
9. Maximus L / Jennifer Nadalin / Owen Gajoch / 83 / 74 / 157
10. Gauguin / Sophie Verges / TFS.LLC / 82 / 72 / 154
11. Podcast / Daniela Casline / Donald Stewart / 79 / 69 / 148
12. Capital / Joshua Graves / University of Fidland / 81.5 / 34 / 115.5