Comeback Kid Wyatt Wins $5,000 USHJA National Derby at Lexington Spring Premiere

Marylisa Leffler and Wyatt. Photo by Theresa Ramsay

Edited Press Release

Twenty-eight horse and rider teams went on the hunt for the blue ribbon in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by The Heisley Family Foundation at the Lexington Spring Premiere.

Marylisa Leffler of Brookeville, Maryland rode Heather Bamford’s Wyatt to the blue ribbon after earning a combined score of 188. The pair sat in second place after the Classic round with a first-round score of 92 but went on to earn the highest handy score of 96 which included 4 high options.  

“I didn’t know if Tom [Brennan] was going to do any of the inside turns so I decided I would. Those turns were really sharp, but I’ve ridden Wyatt and know he can do it. I stuck with my plan,” said Leffler.

Tom Brennan of Charles Town, West Virginia, and Joann Cangelosi’s Jarnac sat in first place after the Classic Round with their score of 94, but their Handy score of 93 for a total of 187 would see them finish in second place.

Today’s Derby was the first time Wyatt has been shown at the Virginia Horse Center since getting injured last spring. “He was being ridden in the Junior Hunters last year and they just left too long for the jump. Wyatt flipped over the fence and when he got up, he just stood there. I was up on the hill watching down on all of this,” she recollected.

“When we got him home, we x rayed him and did everything to make sure he was ok, but then sent him to Leesburg to get scanned. They determined that he had jammed his shoulder, but he also suffered from a severe concussion. He hit the ground that hard! I remember putting him in his stall and he kind of stood there with a glazed eye looking at the wall,” she said. 

“We gave him six weeks off. When he started back, I decided I wanted to be the first one to ride him in case he got scared. And you know, he was absolutely fine. He obviously didn’t remember a thing,” she said.

“Showing him today in the Derby, he wasn’t fazed by any of it,” she said. “I think it’s especially cool that Heather Bamford’s horses, although different horses, have won this Derby two years in a row. And I’m really happy I got to ride both of them. Just another reason why Lexington is one of my favorite shows,” she said.

Photo by Teresa Ramsay

Third place was awarded to Victor, owned by Carelyn Monroe and ridden by Pat Vogtle of Hillsborough, North Carolina for their combined score of 175. Vogtle also earned a fourth-place finish with Hanna Greene’s Rhythm & Balous and a combined score of 174.5.

Cobham Park, owned and ridden by Krysia Nelson of Keswick, Virginia placed fifth overall and also won the EMO Leading Amateur Derby Rider award. The pair earned a combined score of 171.5.

Sixth place was awarded to Carry On, owned by Charlotte Rossetter and ridden by McKenzie Canard of Philomont, Virginia for their combined score of 171.

Hela, owned by Kristen Cox and ridden by Megan Young of Jacksonville, Florida placed seventh with their combined score of 170.5 and Roland Park, owned by Mount Fair Equine, LLC and ridden by Dudley MacFarlane of Crozet, Virginia, placed eighth with their combined score of 169.750.

Raf LLC’s Mahalo, ridden by Ashley Foster of Brookeville, Maryland, earned a ninth-place finish with their combined score of 167 and Important, owned and ridden by Sydney Callagy of Virginia Beach, Virginia placed tenth with a combined score of 166.5. The pair also won the EMO Leading Junior Derby Rider award.

Chris Wynne of Virginia Beach, Virginia rode Maryellen Kroll’s Correlation to an eleventh-place finish with a combined score of 165.250 and he also rode Jan Bitzberger’s Maximo to a twelfth place for their combined score of 147.

For more information, please visit