Surprise Wins $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at Lexington Spring Encore

Surprise and Chad Keenum. Photo by Teresa Ramsay

Edited Press Release

Surprise, owned by Brittany Warden and ridden by Chad Keenum of The Plains, Virginia won the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by the Heisley Family Foundation yesterday, besting a field of twenty-one horse and rider teams.

Surprise and Keenum led after the Classic Round with their score of 91. 

The Handy round shuffled the standings several times and when Surprise and Keenum entered the ring, the leading combined score was earned by Kristen Cox’ Hela, ridden by Megan Young of Jacksonville, Florida. After a Classic score of 85, they earned a Handy score of 92 for a total of 177, the overall score Keenum and Surprise needed to beat.

Keenum piloted Surprise around the course designed by Nancy Wallis of Lambertville, New jersey. The pair earned a Handy score of 87 for a combined 178 and secured the win.

Brittany Warden’s Surprise, ridden by Chad Keenum, won the $5,000 USHJA National Derby, presented by The Hiesley Family Foundation. Leading Groom Award was presented to Ben Smith. Photo by Teresa Ramsay

“All the distances came up nicely and the course flowed really well,” commented Keenum. “I love Megan, she’s a great friend of mine and we both train with Rodney Bross. She [Megan Young] did the inside turn after the two-stride oxer and I did the same; the striding really suited us,” he commented.  

“Surprise is a 9-year-old we’ve had for three years and is owned by Amateur, Brittany Warden. He does the 3’3” Amateurs and 3’6 Greens and he’s been a great horse for us. He’s going to be doing the 3’6 this year as well as the 3’6” amateurs,” he added.

Third place was awarded to Cobham Park, owned and ridden by Krysia Nelson of Keswick, Virginia for their combined score of 176.5. Jarnac, owned and ridden by Joann Cangelosi of Leesburg, Virginia earned a fourth-place finish for their combined score of 176.

Nelson returned to the winner’s circle, this time in the irons of her own Advocat for a fifth-place ribbon after earning a combined score of 167.5. Nelson also earned the EMO Leading Amateur Derby Rider Award.

Krysia Nelson won the EMO Leading Amateur Derby Rider Award. Photo by Teresa Ramsay

Missy Chiles’ Mexicali Blues, ridden by Jocelyn Martin of Louisa, Virginia placed sixth with a combined score of 158 and seventh was awarded to Mr. President, owned by Sophia Vella and ridden by Grace Long of Middleburg, Virginia for their overall score of 155.
Wiser, owned by Ceil Wheeler and ridden by Ellie Laferty of Roanoke, Virginia, finished in eighth place with a score of 154.5 and ninth was awarded to Mount Fair Equine, LLC’s Roland Park, ridden by Dudley MacFarlane of Crozet, Virginia for their combined score of 150.5.

Katie Cooper of Owings Mills, Maryland, rode her own Kenzo to a tenth-place finish after earning a combined score of 150, and also secured a twelfth-place ribbon with the JP Group’s Jackpower. Joycelyn Martin rode Michelle Newton’s Dressed in Blue to an eleventh placing. 

Lauren Satola of Fulton, Maryland was awarded the EMO Leading Junior Derby Rider.

“We thought we were going to have terrible weather today, but it really cleared up nicely. It rained earlier, but the footing held up really well. I watched all the rounds and not one horse slipped or tripped. There wasn’t a refusal in this course,” said Keenum. “The ring crew has been amazing all week. Nancy [Wallis] designed and set a beautiful Derby course and it rode so nicely,” he added.

“We show here 5 or 6 times a year, both in schooling shows and the winter shows. We love coming to the Virginia Horse Center. My clients are the Lowham Ruzzo family, that’s TTR Sotheby’s, and they sponsor this show because they love coming here. We all especially enjoy the hospitality,” he commented.

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Durso Wins Pony Jr/Amateur Handler Award

Photo by A Wynning Advantage

Brylee Durso of Shepherdstown, West Virginia won the Virginia Horse Show Association Pony Jr/Amateur Handler Award yesterday with her own three-year-old Welsh pony, Yo Gotti.

Nine-year-old Durso said, “I started riding ponies when I was two and just started showing in them in hand. This is the sixth time I have done this,” said Durso.

Her mother, Sarah Lowe commented, “She started doing the handling at Upperville last year with a three-year-old and got a fourth.” Lowe, a lifelong horsewoman said, “Brylee is learning how to show in hand. She’s starting to figure it out and she loves it. This pony, we call him Lenny, was a gift from Kym Smith to Brylee. Brylee has done all the work with him; she broke him and does walk trot and canter. Lenny is like a puppy dog. All my ponies are like that; I have fourteen and though they’re not all mine, most of them are,” she laughed.

“We’ve been showing at the Virginia Horse Center for years and used to come to all of the local shows here. The Virginia Horse Center is a couple of hours from our home in West Virginia, but it is so easy to get to,” commented Lowe. “Brylee has been riding the hunters and she’ll start riding in the jumpers this summer. We have been doing all the big A shows for about three years now and we’re really into it. She’s having so much fun,” she added.

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