Edited Press Release
Wellington International welcomed hunter riders back Friday morning for the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by 4Ever Young. Riding Sara Hogan’s Sandstone, USA’s Geoffrey Hesslink stood at the top of the scorecard with a final score of 184.
“Sandstone’s been owned by Sara Hogan for a couple of years now,” explained Hesslink. “He previously won the Pre-Green Incentive Finals and has been a really good horse for a number of years. I’ve only shown him one other time, so for this being our second show together, he couldn’t have been better.”
The derby took place in the “Hunt and Go” format, meaning that the riders competed in a single round. The first part of the round was scored as the traditional Classic round, while the second part of the course was scored as the Handy round. The two scores were combined to produce an overall score for each horse-and-rider combination.
Hesslink topped the podium with a classic phase score of 90 and a handy phase score of 94, which combined for a grand total of 184. Taking the second-place spot was Danielle Menker (USA) and Ladies First, owned by Elysian Stables LLC, with a classic phase score of 89 and a handy phase score of 90 for a combined score of 179. Completing the podium with a classic phase score of 88 and a handy phase score of 89, was Ava Barnes (USA) and Unprecedented, owned by Monkey Business LLC, with an overall score of 177.
Competition continued Friday afternoon with eleven horse-and-rider pairs competing for the lion’s share of the prize money in the $15,000 USHJA International Derby, sponsored by Bainbridge Companies. The hunter derby class was also held in the “Hunt and Go” format. Going fifth in the class, Michael Tokaruk (USA) and Kate Barton’s Fenway, secured the blue with an 88 in the classic round and an 85 in the handy round for a combined score of 173.
Tokaruk and Fenway’s partnership is still new, noting “We’ve only had him for about two years now. He was initially meant to be a sales horse but we ended up liking him a lot. We had a really good riding Junior in the barn, Kate Barton, and she was in the market for an equitation horse. She ended up buying him and we got to keep him in the barn, which is great! He gives you total confidence, his canter is amazing, the jump, the feeling – he’s a lovely horse and he just continues to get better and better.”
Reserve honors were awarded to Maddie Tosh (USA) and Spoken, owned by Andesite Equestrian, with an 84 in the classic round and an 86 in the handy for a combined score of 170. Jennifer Bliss (USA) and the Harris Farm LLC-owned Poker Face, earned a combined score of 165 with a 78 in the classic round and an 87 in the handy.