Chicagoland Celebrates $10,000 Alltech USHJA Hunter Derby Finals

Ryan Sassmannshausen and Rosalita claimed victory in the $10,000 Alltech USHJA Hunter Derby Final hosted by Showplace Productions. Photo Andrew Ryback Photography

Roscoe, IL – September 11, 2021 – Showplace Productions hosted the $10,000 Alltech United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) Hunter Derby Finals at the historic Ledges Sporting Horses facility in Roscoe, Illinois, on Saturday. The series offered $30,000 in prize money beginning in April of 2021 with the $10,000 final competition and a $2,500 Pony Hunter Derby Final ending the event with plenty of celebration.

 Local firefighter Joe Jacober presented the flag at the start of the competition in honor of 9/11. Photo M4E

Twenty-nine entries took their turn at the Patrick Boyle designed derby course with judges Steve Wall of Pinehurst, North Carolina and Rob Bielefeld from Wellington, Florida, scoring the event. Galloping across the spectacular grand prix ring, riders jumped natural obstacles including hay bales, natural brush, birch rails, and hundreds of gorgeous mums to earn the top scores of the class. 
 
After the first round of the two-round class, it was Ryan Sassmannshausen of Elgin, Illinois, aboard Rosalita, owned by Doris Donovan, who took the lead with a score of 91 from the judges panel. Just behind with a score of 88 was Kathleen Caya of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, riding Justified. 
 
The top 12 riders returned to demonstrate their skills in the handy round and it was Sassmannshausen who stole the show once again. The pair made quick and easy turns with a beautiful jumping style to earn another high score of 91 from the judges to clinch the victory. 
 
Caya held her spot in second place with Justified scoring an 86 in the handy round and took home third, fourth and sixth places as well on her other rides. 
 
Sassmannshausen has had Rosalita, just over a year and was grateful for generous owners like Donovan. She was ecstatic to be in the winner’s circle with Sassmannshausen after the winning performances.
 
“We can’t do what we do without great owners like Doris, our owners are everything,” said Sassmannshausen. “Doris has been really supportive, she bought the horse, she sent her to Florida, she’s sent her around the country showing, we’ve won a lot and learned a lot, and Doris has been there every step of the way.”
 

Sassmannshausen has been coming to Ledges since he was very young because his parents own Kinvarra Farm that is the family business. Having spent countless hours at Ledges, the family feels at home and raves about the excellent management. Many of the farm’s riders start at Ledges as their first show and go on to earn championships at shows across the country. Sassmannshausen explained it is a great place to bring young horses and riders to give them great experiences and opportunities to learn in a quality environment.
 
RESULTS – $10,000 ALLTECH USHJA HUNTER DERBY FINAL
1 – RYAN SASSMANNSHAUSEN – ROSALITA
2 – KATHLEEN CAYA – JUSTIFIED
3 – KATHLEEN CAYA – JOPLIN TER DOORN
4 – KATHLEEN CAYA – COPA DU CACHE
5 – ASHLEY MARCH – INCOGNITO VDL
6 – KATHLEEN CAYA – LANDIA 5
7 – SERAH VOGUS – BOND 016
8 – ALEXIS BAUMAN – CHRISTIAN GREY
9 – RITA KREJCI – MONACO
10 – TINA JUDGE-BOYLE – NORDIC VAN DEN BISSCHOP
11 – MAGGIE BRESCH – COROCHINO Z
12 – MARIA KOGEN – TRUE NORTH

Pony Hunter Derby

Maya Thomas and Until Tomorrow won the USHJA Pony Hunter Derby with trainer Emily Elek. Photo Andrew Ryback Photography 

The day wrapped up with the $2,500 Alltech USHJA Pony Hunter Derby Finals, where the youngest riders took to the saddle to navigate their ponies over the two-round derby course. 

Julia Capozzi took the lead after the first round with Jack Pot, scoring an 81 for their efforts. Right behind Capozzi was Maya Thomas and Until Tomorrow, who picked up a 79 for their first round score. 

The lead changed hands after the handy round with Thomas scoring an 84 to take the top spot while Capozzi dropped to third. Grabbing the second place spot was Liana Epstein and Upworthy with their great score of 82.

Winner Maya Thomas rides with trainer Emily Elek in Wisconsin. This is Thomas’ last year as a junior rider so she is packing in as many derbies as she can. The pair currently rank #10 in the country in the Large Pony Hunter Division. 

“Maya and her pony are such a great team,” said trainer Elek, who has been coming to Ledges to show since 1990. She started out riding and showing and now trains and sells a large number of ponies every year. 

Until Tomorrow, the Welsh/thoroughbred cross pony, is 14-years-old now and the pair have been together for about seven years. Thomas plans to move out of the pony division after this year and take on a new horse to ride in the lower jumper divisions for a while. 

RESULTS – $2,500 USHJA PONY HUNTER DERBY FINAL
1 – MAYA THOMAS – UNTIL TOMORROW
2 – LIANA EPSTEIN – UPWORTHY
3 – JULIA CAPOZZI – JACKPOT
4 – ALITA LIGGETT – PACKIN’ THE HEAT
5 – ALEXANDRA MILLER – THE 405
6 – SAVANNAH JURS – PINK CADILLAC
7 – ALITA LIGGETT – THE BEES KNEES
8 – EMMA BROSIUS – ARAMA JOLIE VERSACE
9 – BAILEY PAIGE ANDERSON – BLUE INDIGO

The Ledges Sporting Horses facility has been in existence for over 50 years. Currently owned by Clay and Donna Struve of Lake Bluff, Illinois, the facility runs horse shows year-round under the management of Showplace Productions. Exhibitors and trainers are extremely grateful for the Struve family for their continued support of the horse industry, the facility, and the incredible events they continually allow to happen at this iconic location. The renowned showgrounds has been the starting place for several U.S. Olympic equestrians and has hosted national championships and educational clinics for decades, annually growing the horse industry in the Midwest.