Traverse City, Mich. – July 31, 2021 – Hunter riders and their top mounts were highlighted Saturday afternoon during Week IV of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors. Taking center stage in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring, a total of 31 horse-and-rider pairs put their names forward for the pinnacle hunter event, the $25,000 Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Copper Fox. After two impressive rounds of stiff competition, Samantha Schaefer rode Madeline Schaefer’s In the Know to the top honors of the day with a high score of 374 to lead the victory gallop at the conclusion of the class.
Patrick Rhodes was tasked with designing the courses for the two phases, including a classic round that served as an initial test to whittle the start list down to just 12 for round two. Going into round one, Augusta Iwasaki had the obvious advantage with four entries to her name. Greg Crolick, Schaefer, Ariana Marnell, Tiffany Morrissey, Patricia Griffith and Jacob Pope also benefited from multiple opportunities in the ring with more than one entry each, while the remaining athletes in the order relied on their single entry.
Schaefer and her veteran partner In The Know were the fifth pair to try their hand at the first round course, jumping to a score of 174 from the judges. In The Know’s score would remain atop the leaderboard until Crolick and Kuore showed their best for a score of 177, slipping into the first place position with 15 entries remaining. Seventeen-year-old Tessa Downey would soon take over the lead, however, riding a fantastic track aboard Bella Kay’s Symbolic for a score of 181.5. A few trips later, Schaefer returned to the ring with her second mount, Caristo. The pair rode a close replication of Downey and Symbolic’s round, but beat out the young athlete by half of a point to earn a 182 from the judges and ultimately earn the top spot at the conclusion of the first round.
The top 12 horse-and-rider combinations were invited back for the handy round, and were set to return in reverse order of their scores from round one. The newly refreshed course featured a variety of options for riders to showcase their horses adjustability and scope with inside turns and a trot jump. Entering the ring fifth, Schaefer and In The Know were hungry to improve their first round score. With countless derby wins under their belt, Schaefer and the 12-year-old Warmblood gelding are no strangers to a high-pressure handy round. The talented duo posted an impressive score of 200 to finish on a total of 374, which seated them comfortably at the top of the leaderboard.
Iwasaki and Small Kingdom were also hopeful to move their way up the ranking in order to nab a win. Their handy score of 198 fell just behind Schaefer’s to give the pair a total score of 371.5, seating them in second place. Crolick and Chappy, owned by Carole Chase, just barely edged out Iwasaki after improving upon their first round score of 179.5 to claim a 193 for their handy efforts, slipping into the second position on a total of 372.5. Schaefer concluded the handy round aboard Caristo, but could not edge out her competition enough to maintain Caristo’s first-round lead, finishing on a total of 366. Though it wouldn’t be Caristo’s day, Schaefer would ultimately ride into the winner’s circle aboard her familiar partner In The Know.
Second place honors for the $25,000 Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Copper Fox, were presented to Crolick and the 10-year-old Mecklenberg gelding, Chappy, who finished on a total score of 372.5. Iwasaki and Small Kingdom, a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding, rounded out the top three with a two-round score of 371.
Earlier in the day, the $2,000 Grooms Class, presented by Meadowview Farm, took place in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring. Rafa Anguilar was awarded the top prize for his efforts in grooming iFlirt, owned by Swede Ventures LLC, judged on turnout, grooming and overall presentation.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Samantha Schaefer – $25,000 Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Copper Fox, winner
On In the Know:
“Spyder came into my life about five years ago, maybe going on six years now. He was originally purchased to be my sister’s equitation horse. He did that job for a year or two and then he kind of started to pick up in the derbies. Since then he has just kind of taken over as my High Performance horse and derby horse. We really try to save him. We don’t show him that often. We brought him here with this class in mind and he has done a few classes leading up to it, but this was the reason we brought him up here to gear up for [USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships] in two weeks. This will be his last stop before we head there. I think I’ve run out of good things to say about the horse! He’s my rock. I joke that he is my quarterback. I always know in the biggest moments that he is always there for me, and we just have a really strong connection and we know each other really well.”
On the classic round:
“On In The Know, I don’t want to say disappointed but I didn’t have the best round. There were a few places where, knowing him, I think I could have changed my ride a little bit. It made me hungry in the second round – I came from the bottom and, you know, risked everything to keep moving up. Then I had Caristo, who I was lucky to go later in the class on. I thought I fixed my mistakes that I had on In The Know. He is actually my Green Hunter 3’6’’ horse, so for him to go in there, I think his third International Hunter Derby now, and walk around there like a seasoned pro was pretty amazing. I think I gave him a better ride than I gave Spyder in the first round but they are both great horses. I actually think they are a bit similar. They are totally brave and super handy and game for kind of whatever you ask of them. I see a little bit of Spyder in Caristo.”
On the handy:
“I thought right off the bat I thought it was important to make a bold statement to the first jump. Just to walk in and get right to it. Then obviously as neat as you can back to the next fence. I think the rest of the round, for the most part, we all probably did similar tracks. I think I just tried to do it in as few strides possible and as efficient and direct as I could without it feeling rushed. Like I said, Spyder is kind of the handy king. I can always turn back to pretty much any jump and he has a magical way of just patting the ground and making a good jump out of it. I used that to my advantage like turning back to the last jump, the trot jump and also on the vertical in front of the one panel of judges on the far side – jump one from the first round. He is just always with me and then totally game.”
On claiming back-to-back wins in Traverse City:
“It’s definitely unexpected! Yesterday was a big win for me, I know I’m primarily a hunter rider so yesterday’s [$36,600 Staller Shows Welcome Stake CSI2* win] was pretty exciting. [Frasier] is a newer horse for me. Obviously today you have high expectations and a lot of pressure on your shoulders to deliver. I thought after the first round I was a little disappointed in my performance but I’m just glad it played out like this for the second round. Good week all around, good week for the team and on to tomorrow!”
$25,000 Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Copper Fox:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. In The Know / Samantha Schaefer / Madeline Schaefer / 174 / 200 / 374
2. Chappy / Greg Crolick / Carole Chase / 179.5 / 193 | 372.5
3. Small Kingdom / Augusta Iwasaki / Iwasaki & Reilly / 173 / 198 | 371.5
4. S & L Exxon Hedonist / Patricia Griffiths / S & L Farms / 170.75 / 197 | 367.75
5. Caristo / Samantha Schaefer / R & R Hunter Horses LLC / 182 / 184 | 366
6. With Honors / Jacob Pope / Corporate Way LLC / 175 / 189.5 | 364.5
7. Testify / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 176 / 188 | 364
8. Kuore / Greg Crolick / Renaud Farm LLC / 177 / 186.5 | 363.5
9. Small Social / Augusta Iwasaki / Iwasaki & Reilly / 177.75 / 183 | 360.75
10. Tradition / Patricia Griffith / Nancy Banfield / 181 / 179 | 360
11. Day Glow / Alex Granato / Rena Lalley / 171 / 164 | 335
12. Symbolic / Tessa Downey / Bella Kay / 181.5 / 76 | 257.5