Edited Press Release
More than 60 entries took to Hunter 1 at World Equestrian Center – Ocala for the first Derby Friday of 2022. Hunter Derby Friday featured the $20,000 WEC Ocala 3’6”-3’9” Hunter Derby, $15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Open Hunter Derby and $15,000 WEC Ocala Jr/Am 3’ Hunter Derby. Courses for the classes were designed by Tom Hearn and featured fences found in the hunt field such as hay bales, stone walls and hedges.
The $20,000 WEC Ocala 3’6”-3’9” Hunter Derby saw 18 competitive horse-and-rider combinations ready to take the win. Competition was fierce with scores soaring into the high 90’s but it was Amanda Steege and Cheryl Olsten’s Lafitte De Muze (Darco x Everlychin De La Pomme) that secured the win.
Steege and the 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding have enjoyed success at World Equestrian Center – Ocala, earning numerous top finishes during last year’s Winter Spectacular Show Series. Steege was very proud of Lafitte De Muze, saying “We are coming off quite a long break. Lafitte hasn’t shown since Capital Challenge in October. It felt great to know that he just walked out there today after a three-month hiatus from horse showing and went as well as he did.”
Steege and the stylish Lafitte De Muze delivered a foot-perfect first round, taking all three high options with ease turning in the class’s highest first round score of 96.
Steege enjoyed the options that the handy offered, explaining, “The handy was great. It really had an abundance of options, which was very fun. Currently, I am really trying to practice riding with a bit more pace and to be as handy as I can while incorporating every high option. There was one place in the handy where I changed my plan; I was planning on going around the oxer after the church bell vertical to get to the next oxer, but then I saw Tracy [Fenney] and a few others go inside the oxer to catch the next fence on a nice slice. I did that which wasn’t easy, but it came up beautifully. Then I was able to easily wrap around to the high option vertical and stay inside the decorations to slice the last fence.”
Steege and the fan favorite Lafitte De Muze returned and laid down a near-flawless handy round, taking every inside turn, while jumping all three high options to earn an outstanding score of 99, and an overall total of 195.
“Lafitte is the best. He is so humble and loves everyone,” Steege said proudly. “Lafitte’s owner Cheryl Olsten wrote a children’s book about him called Big Wishes for Little Feat. We all adore him, and he becomes a favorite to everyone that meets him. He was also the first equine ambassador of Equus Foundation, where all of his winnings go to charities that are in need. He is just a one-of-a-kind horse.”
Tracy Fenney took home second and third place honors. Fenney’s second place mount, MTM Plus One (Captain Jack x Cantonia) captured the class’s second highest first round score of 89. Fenney and the nine-year-old Westphalian gelding came back for the handy, taking every inside turn available while jumping all three high options to earn a very high handy score of 95, for a two-round total of 184.
Fenney and her third place mount, MTM Raisin (Uriko x Adria) produced a beautiful first round while jumping to the top of the standards to receive a first round score of 85.75. Fenney and the 7-year-old Holsteiner gelding resumed for the handy, jumping each fence in perfect form while completing all three high options to earn a score of 89, and an overall score of 174.75.
$20,000 WEC Ocala 3’6”-3’9” Hunter Derby Results:
1.Lafitte De Muze, Amanda Steege, Cheryl Olsten: 96 | 99 | 195
2. MTM Plus One, Tracy Fenney, MTM Farm: 89 | 95 | 184
3. MTM Raisin, Tracy Fenney, MTM Farm: 85.75 | 89 | 174.75
4. Capriati, Carly Campbell-Cooper, John Jamieson: 86 | 87.5 | 173.5
5. Comissario, Morgan Ward, Morgan Ward: 84 | 89 | 173
6. Tybee, Holly Shepherd, Debbie Holland: 85.5 | 85 | 170
7. Collins, Lauren Schweppe, James York: 85 | 85 | 170
8. MTM Nabilli, Jenny Miller, Erica Prockow: 86 | 82 | 168
9. Ipanema, Josh Dolan, Belle Rolfe: 79 | 88 | 167