Edited Press Release
Thirty-eight horse-and-rider combinations took to the WEC Stadium early Friday morning to contest the $15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Open Hunter Derby. Competition was fierce with scores soaring into the 90s, but it was Hillary Johnson and Copper Fox LLC’s Suede (Los Angeles x Petite Fleur) that captured the win with the highest overall score of 184.
Johnson earned the Style of Riding Award presented by Bill Rube during the Winter Spectacular’s opening week. The Style of Riding Award was presented to Johnson for her classic style and her sportsmanship. This week, Johnson continued to produce lovely rounds, earning the class’s highest first round score of 91.
Johnson was excited to get to get back into the WEC Stadium, saying “I felt pretty confident going into the stadium today. We did a few out here last year and [Suede] loved it. Coming into a big atmosphere like this is so much fun for him.”
Johnson and the now 8-year-old Westphalian gelding were the last pair to return for the handy, starting on a nice canter to fence one to turn left to fence two. The pair floated through the rest of the course taking multiple inside turns while jumping all four high options to earn a handy score of 93, for a two round total of 184.
“Suede was fantastic today. He is a very quiet horse so I had to make sure to keep the power even when making the inside turns. I really enjoyed having a few different options out of the turns; if you needed a little extra space or not,” said Johnson.
Just behind the winning pair were Dorothy Douglas and Abigail Davenport’s MTM Exceptional (Casall Ask x Rheinsberg). Douglas and MTM Exceptional have earned numerous top finishes at World Equestrian Center – Ocala. On this occasion, Douglas and the 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding navigated a beautiful first round while jumping all three high options to earn a score of 90.25. The pair returned for the handy, producing inside turns while slicing high option fences to receive a high score of 92, for an overall score of 182.25.
Erin-McCabe Clayton and Cecilia Halsey’s Griffin rounded out the top three. Clayton is well known at World Equestrian Center – Ocala, taking home multiple top finishes during Ocala’s 2021 NSBA Summer Series. Clayton and the 11-year-old Warmblood gelding delivered a stunning first round, jumping all four high options to secure a score of 89. The duo returned for the handy, starting on a right lead to make a tricky turn back to fence one, to land left and roll to fence two. The pair cantered rhythmically through the remainder of the course to earn a score of 89, for a total score of 178 to earn third.
A total of 38 stunning hunters vied for the win in the $15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Jr/Am Hunter Derby, but it was Nicole Lyvere and her own Vaillero (Vaillant x Highlight Z) that secured the highest overall score of 179.
Lyvere and the 14-year-old Zangersheide navigated a flawless first round, easily jumping all four high options to earn the class’s highest first round score of 90. Lyvere had a successful day, also earning The Style of Riding Award presented by Bill Rube.
“Squishy [Vaillero] is the best,” Lyvere said. “When I first got him, I had a really hard time riding him. So, I’ve spent a lot of time learning with him because he would get super nervous when he went in the ring. I think we are finally at the point where we are familiar with each other and today it all clicked.”
Lyvere and Vaillero completed a lovely handy round, taking each side turn with ease while opting to take each high options to secure another high score of 89, for a two round total of 179.
“I am never one to play it safe,” Lyvere added. “I went in there trying to be as handy as possible. He gets a bit trickier to ride during the handy, but he was amazing today. I am super happy with him. I think we finally got all of the pieces together.”
Devin Seek and Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Wheeler’s Citation (Thunder Van De Zuuthoeve x Argenta VD Berghoeve) snagged second place honors. Seek and the 8-year-old Warmblood gelding delivered a smooth first round, jumping all four high options for a score of 89. The pair returned for the handy, opting to take numerous inside turns to earn a score of 88, for an overall score of 177.
Rory Caskey of Austin, Texas and Nourah Caskey’s Cassio earned the third place spot. Caskey and the 12-year-old Warmblood gelding produced a beautiful first round, jumping one high option to secure a score of 85. Caskey and Cassio came back for the handy, flowing through the course while jumping all four high options to earn a score of 83.5, for a total of 168.5 to earn third.
Before the start of the handy round in the $15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Jr/Am Derby, Bill Rube presented the prestigious Style of Riding Award to Nicole Lyvere for her classic style and her sportsmanship. The recipient serves as a role model for preserving the integrity and tradition of equestrian sport. “This award is very special to me because the recipient of this award pays it forward both in and out of the show ring,” says Rube. Johnson received an elegant duffel bag and wore a white rose corsage on her lapel throughout the handy round to signify her achievement.
$15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Jr/Am Hunter Derby Results:
$15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Open Hunter Derby Results:
1.Suede, Hillary Johnson, Copper Fox LLC: 91 | 93 | 184
2. MTM Exceptional, Dorothy Douglas, Abigail Davenport: 90.25 | 92 | 182.25
3. Griffin, Erin-McCabe Clayton, Cecilia Halsey: 89 | 89 | 178
4. James, Amanda Steege, Alexis Lipson: 90 | 86 | 176
5. Cataumet, Lauren Schweppe, Cynthia Bourdeau: 88 | 87.5 | 175.5
6. Happily Ever After, Morgan Ward, Whisper Hill Farm LLC: 87 | 88 | 175
7. Balou Velvet, Amanda Steege, Felicity Farms LLC: 84.5 | 90 | 174.5
8. Quinn, Jordynn Shaffer, Felicity Farms LLC: 86.5 | 87 | 173.5
9. What D’Ya Think, Megan Young, Samantha Derosa: 85 | 85 | 170
10. ES Stylin, Candice King, Michele Noel: 85.5 | 84 | 169.5
1.Vaillero, Nicole Lyvere, Nicole Lyvere: 90 | 89 | 179
2. Citation, Devin Seek, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Wheeler: 89 | 88 | 177
3. Cassio, Rory Caskey, Nourah Caskey: 85 | 83.5 | 168.5
4. The Ridge Cavalier, Samantha McCarthy: 84 | 84 | 168
5. I.M. Gold, Bailey Benner, Bailey Benner: 79.75 | 86 | 165.75
6. Andricus, Hannah Serfass, Reily Rieker: 81.5 | 79 | 160.5
7. Quiwian, Victoria Zahorik, Victoria Zahorik: 80.5 | 79 | 159.5
8. Golden Ticket, Addison McQuaker, Addison McQuaker: 82 | 72 | 154
9. Folklore, Amberlea Tribble, Amberlea Tribble: 86 | 67.5 | 153. 5
10. Evanston, Audrey Flattich, Audrey Flattich: 80 | 73 | 153