Ashley Hotz and Birthday Boy Star in $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby at ESP Summer

Ashley Hotz and Birthday Boy. Photo by Carly Nasznic Photography

Wellington, FL – August 29, 2021 – Ashley Hotz of Wellington, FL, and Anna Duff’s Birthday Boy stole the spotlight in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Equiline, during the ESP Summer III horse show at Equestrian Village. The week’s highlight hunter class took place on Friday and marked a special occasion for the duo as Birthday Boy concluded the day with a win in his first derby of his competitive career.

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Ashley Hotz and Birthday Boy, pictured with owner Anna Duff, won the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Equiline. ©Carly Nasznic Photography

“We actually just recently partnered in the spring. [Birthday Boy] hasn’t been doing much this summer, so I thought it would be great for him to come out this week to the show,” shared Hotz. “His owner, Anna Duff, competes with him in the Adult Amateurs, but this is his first derby. I thought the course was really nice for him. He jumped up the first line great and then we just had some fun with the rest of the course.”

Hotz and Birthday Boy received a score of 86 for their efforts in the classic round of the competition, putting them in second place going into the second and final round of the class. As one of the last to go over the handy track, the pair improved upon their earlier performance to score a base score of 86 plus four points for the high options to earn a total of 90 points. Earning a cumulative score of 176, that ranked them at the top of the scorecard with only one pair left to go. 

Leading the pack after the classic round was Penny Lombardo of Loxahatchee, FL, and Party Started, owned by Tricia Barr, who received a first-round score of 87. The final contenders, Lombardo and her mount earned a handy score of 80 to finish in third place with 167 points. The red rosette was awarded to Carlo Graziani of Wellington, FL, and Cancun, owned by Wakefield Stables LLC, with scores of 84 and 86 for a total of 170. 

“This summer we’ve been on the road, so this was our first horse show here since we’ve been back. It was so fun to get out there on the grass field. Now, we’ll get back to Anna showing him in the Adults and gear up for the winter season,” Hotz concluded. 

In the Performance 3’3” Hunters, presented by Gold Coast Feed, Katherine Dewar’s G Star Du Coin carried Kelsey Duffy of Delray Beach, FL, to championship honors. The pair were the clear leaders after earning three first-place finishes and placing second twice. Party Started, ridden by Penny Lombardo of Loxahatchee, FL, and owned by Tricia Barr, earned the reserve championship. Though the pair only competed in three of the division’s five classes, their performances that resulted in first, first, and second were enough to put them in the runner-up spot on the overall leaderboard.

J.J. Torano of Wellington, FL, and H.G. Mud Puddles, owned by JET Show Stable, turned in a perfect score in the Small Pony Hunters, sponsored by Dover Saddlery, to conclude the division with five blue ribbons and a championship accolade. The duo’s clean sweep of all five classes left no room for error when tabulating the overall points in the division. The reserve championship honors went to Josephine Baeumler of Wellington, FL, and Neva Navab’s Ready To Roll. The pair finished the weekend with three second-place finishes and two third-place results.