Redfield Riders Double Down in $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derbies 

The first two of multiple hunter derby competitions kicked off on Friday afternoon as juniors, amateurs, and professionals prepared their mounts for the $5,000 SmartPak USHJA National Hunter Derby and $5,000 USHJA Junior/Amateur National Hunter Derby events. Non-pro athletes got the action started as twenty-two combinations readied themselves to contest the hunt-and-go track. 

Redfield Farms’ first victory came in the form of Jaime Auletto and Suzanne Auletto’s seven-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Blue Avenue. The pair dominated over the two-phase course to claim the blue ribbon honors. 

Jaime Auletto stands for presentation. Photo by ESI Photography

“I was really happy with today, especially since I just got down here last night,” Auletto laughed. “I have been home for the last two weeks, so it was nice to go around and it was a beautiful course. I’ve never done a hunt-and-go so that was kind of fun and I liked that he just went right into the handy.”

For Auletto, she was able to produce the best plan for her horse because of the design of the day’s course. 

“Blue Avenue is actually really fun in the handy rounds because he’s pretty good at them,” she explained. “I was really happy there were some options where you could make your own course for part of it and I thought that was fun because you could think about what would work best for your horse. I was happy with the plan I made and it was fun to be able to go nice and smooth and then kind of turn it up a notch and to be able to make that look like a smooth transition.”

Lucy Massucci followed suit in the victory gallop with the reserve honors aboard her 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Hello Pierville), MTM Cocktail, while 12-year-old Westphalian gelding (Balous Bellini) Style and Annabelle Brown rounded out the top three. 

As afternoon drew into the evening, 19 professional hunter pairings shined their boots and fanned their shadbellies to compete for the final hunter derby ribbon of the day. David Wilbur proved that Redfield Farms riders came to conquer the day with a successful winning round in the irons on Redfield Farms’ 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cornet de Lux), Cornet’s Cuneo. 

“He really rose to the occasion and I was very fortunate to get to ride such a nice horse,” Wilbur gushed. “I felt like I had a really good round, but there were definitely a lot of really good horses and riders still to come. Fortunately it was my day.

“I thought the course was great because it gave you a lot of options and you could show off their strengths by making the best plan for your horse,” he continued. “I enjoy the hunt-and-go’s because it’s a nice change of pace and lets you show off your horse’s skills a bit differently.”

Like Auletto, Wilbur is a long-time member of Redfield Farm under the tutelage of Emil Spadone and credits the team behind the scenes with the success. 

“It was a very good day for Redfield and I think again it all starts at the top,” he stated. “I’m very fortunate to get to ride a lot of nice horses. We always have a lot of really nice quality sales horses and I get to ride them usually for only a little while because they are nice and sell fast, but that’s not a bad thing.”

Rüdiger Blue, Lauren Newland’s seven-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Rotspon), and Kasey Evans earned the penultimate position of the evening. The highly-decorated combination of Morgan Ward and her own 19-year-old Warmblood gelding (Calido), Comissario, once again found themselves in the winner’s circle as they finished out the day in third place. 

Hunter derby competition concluded Saturday afternoon as the $750 Bit O’Straw 2’6” Hunter Derby and the $500 Tiny Bit O’ Hunter Derby, presented by Mrs. Pastures Cookies, closed out classes in Hunter One. Eve Dunnagan and Ceil Wheeler’s 15-year-old Warmblood gelding, Czechbook, took the top call of the former class ahead of a field of 12 combinations. 

Clara Mass and Tuck Me In closed out the day as the headliners in the $500 Tiny Bit O’ Hunter Derby. Hunter derby excitement will continue next week during the Ocala Winter Finals.