Jan. 20, 2024 – Ocala, FL – Weekend competition included a variety of hunter events which began with the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby on Friday afternoon. Hunter riders donned their shadbellies and shined their boots as they prepared to contest the classic round for the first derby of the season. Combinations returned in reverse order for the handy round and Sam Meadows made an impressive jump from fifth to first as he paired his first round score of 84.00 with an impressive handy round score of 90.00 points to rocket to a three-point lead.
“I thought today’s course was incredibly inviting and that’s what I loved about it the most,” stated Meadows. “It wasn’t too challenging but it had just enough questions that it kept you on your toes which I really enjoyed. The jumps were also very attractive but without being so overwhelming that they would scare the horses.”
The win was the first in what Meadows hopes will be many for him and the Price Farms LLC’s seven-year-old Holsteiner stallion (Untouchable), Ufeelme.
“He is all fun and games on the ground, but as soon as you get on his back and put him in the ring he is ready for business,” he added. “Our hope is that he will go on to do the bigger derbies and this has been a wonderful stepping stone.
“The ring here is excellent and you can really pick up a good gallop, so we are excited to come back as often as possible,” Meadows continued. “We are really impressed with everything HITS has done and I’m especially looking forward to bringing this horse back for the international derbies.”
Kristen Bumpus produced a noteworthy first round score of 88.00 points aboard Barbara Le Stage’s 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Vingino), Diadora. The pair followed up with a handy score of 83.00 points to take the runner up ribbon of the event with a total score of 171.00 points. Rounding out the afternoon’s lap of honor, Joy Janouskovec piloted Danieli to a two-round total of 166.5 points and the third place finish.
Derby classes continued into Saturday as the afternoon saw both the $750 Bit O’Straw 2’6” Hunter Derby and the $500 Tiny Bit O’ 2’0” Hunter Derby take place. The duo of Charlotte Tufts and Prime Moment took the top call of the later, while Elizabeth Wiley and Ivy League paired scores of 85.00 and 87.00 for a 172.00 point total and the win in the $750 Bit O’Straw 2’6” Hunter Derby. Tufts’ winning mount also received a whopping five pound bag of Mrs. Pastures horse cookies graciously provided by Mrs.Pastures as the sponsors of the $500 Tiny Bit O’ 2’0″ Hunter Derby event.