Edited Press Release
Manchester, VT. – August 10, 2023 – In the final hunt-and-go style derby of the HITS Vermont circuit, Oakley Clark and Cassiano conquered the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, achieving a total combined score of 177.5. For several weeks, Clark and “Tino,” the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding under the ownership of Morgan Eisler Bradley, have been atop the derby standings, including a victory during Week Five at the boutique venue. Being the last to compete in the posted order, Clark and Cassiano executed two perfect rounds to top the field once again.
Reflecting on their journey, Clark shared, “He’s going great. He won last week and then did a couple of rounds yesterday where he won both – he just felt like he was on it.”
Clark and Cassiano were the final contenders in Thursday’s derby, and their classic score of 89 and handy score of 88.5 landed them at the top of the placings. “It was nice — actually kind of fun – to go last. I knew I needed to pull out a good round to win. We just went in and did our best.”
The classic round of the hunt-and-go derby commenced with a single oxer on the diagonal. Featuring bending lines and two high-option jumps, riders could smoothly navigate the course and prepare for their handy round, which started with a trot jump through the chute between Hunter 1 and Hunter 2.
Clark expressed, “The course was great. Tino actually gave the trot jump a bit of a look when he went over there, but he held it together, and then the handy was great. It was a really nice course for him – he jumped great, and he didn’t touch any of the jumps. He went nice and smooth – it was fun.”
Securing second place was Morgan Ward with her veteran partner Comissario, a pair who earned a total score of 177 and have consistently placed first and second throughout the circuit. Third place was awarded to Anna Markcrow and her own Aubergine, who ended with a total combined score of 175.
The Vermont Summer Celebration is the final week of the HITS Vermont Summer Festival. Featured classes scheduled for the rest of the week are the $25,000 HITS Prix taking place on Friday, and the last $40,000 Grand Prix at the end of the day on Sunday. Riders of all ages and levels are competing during the rest of the week, many trying to secure coveted points to qualify for indoor finals.
Original press release courtesy of HITS Vermont.