Reign and Christopher Payne Reign in $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, Presented by YETI

Christopher Payne & Reign, winners of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by YETI. Photo by Sportfot

Edited Press Release

The week’s highlight derby took place on the grass field at Equestrian Village on Sunday with the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by YETI. The culmination to a week of national and international derbies on the field, twenty-four horses took to the turf once more over Ken Krome’s (USA) courses. Held in the traditional hunter derby format where all riders tested across the classic round course, the top 12 returning for the handy round.

Topping the field after both rounds to take victory was Christopher Payne of Cincinnati, OH, and Reign, owned by Provence LLC. The pair sat in the second heading into the handy after laying down a total classic score of 193 between the two judging panels. Payne and Reign moved up to the winning slot after adding a handy round score of 189 for a class total of 382. 

“Reign is wonderful. I won the green incentive on him and he has been champion so many times, but he hasn’t done a lot of derbies,” said Payne of the 10-year-old stallion. “We’ve come through the ranks and he’s a very smart horse. He’s very athletic. In my mind I find him to be the epitome of a hunter because he is a beautiful mover, jumps in beautiful style and I think the grass was fun for him because you could open his stride up and give such a beautiful gallop.”

After placing fifth in Friday’s derby, Reign is proving his talent in the derby ring, taking the high options and handy turns with ease once again on Sunday. “When we got him I did him in the first year green or 3’6” greens and he’d be champion, so I would say to myself, ‘he was so good, I don’t want to wind him up for the derbies,’ so we put the derbies off but it’s time to get in the derby ring and do it. He’s only done a few, but seems to be coming through it pretty well. He did great out here.”

Christopher Payne & Reign are presented as winners of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by YETI. Photo by Sportfot

Following Payne on the podium was a tied second place finish once again, this time going to Jimmy Torano, of Wellington, FL, and Laskano, owned by Isalou, Inc, and Jacob Pope, of Columbia, MD, and Unbelievable, owned by Forget Me Not Farm, who also tied for second in Friday’s derby. The pairs came out with total scores of 379 across both rounds; Torano earning a classic score of 185 then moving up in the ranks with a handy score of 194, while Pope kept his scores nearly even, earning a 189 for the classic round and a 190 for the handy. 

“Ken did an excellent job with the course today,” said Payne. “I tend to be a cautious rider so my goal was to keep everything a bit loose and allow Reign to really use this space and gallop. It’s amazing to have a course designer that has the insight and wants to make it the best for the horses. He made the last jump in the handy to an oxer which was so smart because nobody wants to gallop to a vertical towards the in-gate so he did an amazing job with it.” 

With the WEF season wrapping up for Payne and Reign, Payne now has sights set on a summer circuit in Kentucky with hopes of stepping up to derby finals with his new derby star.