Edited Press Release
Wayne, Ill. – July 8, 2022 – The first week of the Lamplight Summertime Series at HITS Chicago is underway at Lamplight Equestrian Center, where riders showcased their skills in two rings during Friday’s $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Both the first and second rounds of competition utilized the two connected hunter rings, offering many opportunities to showcase a flowing canter and a brilliant jump. Matt Cyphert topped the leaderboard with Ritz after earning scores of 89 and 92 during the highlight hunter event of the week, marking the perfect start to one of his favorite shows.
“We love Lamplight,” smiled Cyphert. “We come here every year – it’s always on our schedule; it’s so beautiful here. We love the staff; everyone is so nice. The jumps are beautiful, and the rings are beautiful. We’re able to go into these nearby towns and have great meals, and I can golf with my friends – it’s always going to be on our schedule; we absolutely love it here!”
The first round of the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby began in Hunter 1 with the first seven fences, before riders cantered into Hunter 2 to complete the remaining five fences, which included two of the four high options. The top 12 were invited to return for the handy round, where they began in Hunter 2 with an option fence to two inside turns. They then continued to Hunter 1, where they were greeted with another high option to a bending line and finished with an in-and-out combination towards the gate.
Cyphert advanced to the handy round ranked second with a score of 89, and opted to pull out all the stops, taking all of the high options and a few extra risks with tight inside turns between the fences. The judges rewarded the risk with a second-round score of 92 for a total score of 181 and the winning title.
“I will say, it’s a lot easier coming back second or third and trying to put pressure on, rather than coming back in the lead,” admitted Cyphert. “I’ve been in both positions, and I’d rather be second or third to be able to take that shot. I am a little bit aggressive in the handy, so that suits me rather than trying to protect a lead. I just tried to be efficient, and then I made one inside turn that I think only one other rider did, and that was probably the difference.”
Nada Wise earned the second and third place honors with Layla and Chesterfield, respectively. Just half a point separated the two horses, who each executed beautiful jumps over all the fences as they toured both of the rings. It was Cyphert’s inside turns that set him apart though to win the day with the 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.
“We’ve had Ritz a little over a year now and we adore him,” said Cyphert. “He has two jobs – I show him the Green Hunters and he does the Amateur Hunters with his owner, Katie McDonnell. He’s a barn favorite, he’s just the sweetest horse, easy to get to the ring, and he just loves his job.”