Edited Press Release
East Dorset, VT – August 4, 2022 – The fifth week of competition during the Vermont Summer Festival kicked off Thursday morning under the picturesque Green Mountains. Top hunter riders showcased their skills in the Hunt & Go style $5,000 JK Adams USHJA National Hunter Derby, where 40 horse-and-rider pairs vied for the winning honors. Besting the field was Jennifer Jones with Filibuster, who garnered the win with impressive scores of 90 and 92 by demonstrating beautiful hunter style over both courses.
Despite never having competed in a Hunt & Go derby, Jones did not let that phase her. “Filibuster is Daphne Markcrow’s Amateur-Owner Hunter horse, and I am lucky to get to show him every now and then,” she explained. “This is the first time I have done him in a derby, and it is actually my first time competing over a Hunt & Go style course. I think this type of class is great!”
In the Hunt & Go style derby, every horse and rider combination completes their first-round classic round and immediately starts on to the handy round, which begins with cantering directly into the connected ring. This week, riders began their classic round in Hunter Ring II and then entered the neighboring Main Hunter ring – cantering on a bending line to their first jump of the handy round. Horse and rider combinations showed their handiness as they navigated tight turns and rollbacks. The handy course featured two additional high options and a two-stride in-and-out before finishing on a trot jump right in front of the exit gate.
“Since he has such a big stride, you can really show him off at the single oxers and just let him flow right up to them,” mentioned Jones. “He cantered between the rings really nicely, and in the handy round you can really show him off – he lands his leads and turns really nicely. He is just super brave, which is perfect in a derby class. The exit came up really quick after the trot jump because he is such a big horse, but we got it done, and he was just super today.”
Jones and Filibuster went right at the end of the original order. They laid down a total score that bested Morgan Ward’s effort with Comissario – who held the lead for the majority of the class. Filibuster, a 12-year-old bay Holsteiner gelding, captivated the judges from the moment the pair took the course. The classic hunter style and beauty of the duo over the fences and across the course in round one earned them a 90 – which included the two high option jumps. Their picturesque performance continued into the handy round, where their smooth inside turns, rollbacks, and seamless trot jump topped their impressive first round score for a 92 – which gave them a total of 182 to lead the class.
“I love showing up here in Vermont – the town and restaurants are great, and [Filibuster’s] owner is actually local to Manchester, so it’s a favorite show for us. I grew up coming to this show and have come here on and off since I was 14 years old, so I always love coming here,” added Jones.
Landing in the second place honors were Ward and Comissario. Ward and her 12-year-old gelding held the top spot for a majority of the class with a total of 177, just until Jones came back fourth to last. Ward piloted Comissario to a big score of 87 in the classic round before capturing a 90 in the handy round, including all four high-options over the two rounds. Rounding out the top three, was Elizabeth Kenny with Rhetorical. The duo finished only a half a point behind Ward with scores of 88 and 88.5 – taking all the high options for a 176.5 total and third place finish.