Kelsey Epperson and Tulio Top $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at WEC Ohio

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Kelsey Epperson masterfully piloted LTJ and Company LLC’s Tulio to the win in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Photo by Winslow Photography

Edited Press Release

Wilmington, OH – Derby Friday took over the R+L Arena where more than 60 stunning hunters contested the course designed by Bobby Murphy of Lexington, KY.

Kelsey Epperson masterfully piloted LTJ and Company LLC’s Tulio to the win in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby 3′ Open Class. The stylish pair earned consistent scores in both rounds, with marks of 89 and 94 in the Handy to total 183 for the grand prize. Epperson and the 7-year-old Zangersheide gelding have earned a second-place finish in seven of their eight derby outings, making their win a long-awaited victory. 

Epperson piloted Tulio to his first derby win. Photo by Winslow Photography

Epperson of Hillside Farm in Bloomfield Hills, MI has several WEC Derby wins on her resume and maintains her composure through each round. “I try to just do what I know how to do and make it a great experience for the horse that I am riding. Each time I make it a point to focus on myself and not what everyone else is doing,” she said. “I loved the jumps in today’s course […] It looked like it was straight out of a hunt field. If we could put grass on the ground it would’ve been the same thing. I was excited to ride the course and Tulio is my favorite horse to ride. I focused on getting into the handy because it was very twisty and turny. He is like a Maserati and I knew it would be so much fun.” 

David Beisel of David Beisel Stables in Goshen, OH piloted Paige Beisel’s The Boy Friend to runner-up honors. Biesel rode the beautiful Oldenburg gelding through each round, maintaining a consistent, forward rhythm, to earn scores of 88 and 89, for 177 and a second-place finish.

Rounding out the top three were Melissa Donnelly and Elizabeth Becker’s derby veteran Corlando 49 (Cartani x Olanda I). Donnelly of Just a Folly Farm in Oxford, MI expertly navigated the course to earn scores of 80.5 and 87, equaling 167.5 for third place honors.

Hannah Eddlemon and Donatello. Photo by Winslow Photography

Hannah Eddlemon—or ‘Hat Trick Hannah,’ as her friends now call her—notched her third consecutive derby win in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby 3′ Non-Pro class aboard Addison King’s Donatello ( Quidam De Revel x Konletta). Eddlemon cleverly managed the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding through the challenging course, demonstrating his impeccable turning abilities.

“He was right with me through all of our inside turns and after the trot jump, he was especially sharp on the turn back,” Eddlemon said. “I was unsure about how this week’s derby would go […] We were up against many great horses and lots of strong hunter competition. I wanted to be competitive and at least make the top twelve. After that, I just wanted to have fun in the handy.”

Vanessa McCaughley and her own Capitol Hill finished just one point behind Eddlemon. Alisa Berry and her own At Last finished third.

$10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby 3′ Open Results:

  1. Tulio, Kelsey Epperson – 89 | 94 | 183
  2. The Boy Friend, David Q. Beisel – 88 | 89 | 177
  3. Corlando 49, Melissa Donnelly – 80.5 | 87 | 167.5
  4. Astra Road, Michalla Gerlacher – 76 | 88 | 164
  5. MTM Bentley, David Q. Beisel – 79 | 84.5 | 163.5
  6. Avila, Jason Berry – 81 | 82 | 163
  7. Cinda, Melissa Donnelly – 78.5 | 82 | 160.5
  8. News For You, Christopher Coberly – 82 | 76 | 158

$10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby 3′ Non-Pro Results:

  1. Donatello, Hannah Eddlemon – 89 | 88 | 177
  2. Capitol Hill, Vanessa McCaughley – 90 | 86 | 176
  3. At Last, Alisa Berry – 85 | 83.5 | 168.5 
  4. Oh Brother, Vanessa Mazzoli – 83 | 80 | 163
  5. Full Count, Emma Paul – 75 | 83 | 158
  6. Red Roc, Kiera Philpot – 76 | 80 | 156
  7. Barenstark, Lindsay M. Birnbrich – 77.5 | 76 | 153.5
  8. Teddi Tendergrass, Jessica Harrison – 79 | 74 | 153
  9. Merlot, Sarah Demczuk – 77 | 69 | 146
  10. Spectacular, Sarah Entzian – 78 | 67 | 145