Morgan Ward and Comissario Count On Consistency to Win $5,000 SmartPak USHJA National Hunter Derby

As the afternoon sun settled on the main hunter ring at the HITS Post Time Farm, Morgan Ward made one more bid for the top title in the last hunter derby of the season. As the most consistent combination of the season, she and Comissario have taken the honors in multiple derbies and they made sure to leave a lasting impression once more. Across the two-round format, Ward piloted the 19-year-old Warmblood gelding (Calido) to one last blue ribbon on a total score of 184.00 points. 

“He’s always been consistent since I’ve known him,” Ward said. “He stayed with me the whole way today; I just kind of look and think of where I want to go and he follows. We’ve had so many years together that he trusts me a lot and we speak the same language.”

Morgan Ward stands for presentation. Photo by ESI Photography

That trust is something that developed over a lengthy partnership from the promise that the pair would reunite after a separation early on. 

“I bought him when I was sixteen years old and then he was sold after about a year,” she recalled. “My mom promised me that one day we would buy him back. When that phone call came, he was a total surprise for my twenty-first birthday, and he’s been with me ever since. He’ll never leave us again.” 

Hot on her own heels, Ward also earned herself a second place finish with her newer mount Cashmero just one point behind her own lead with a total of 183.00 points. The 13-year-old Warmblood gelding is owned by the Ward family’s Morlynn Farms and became Ward’s newest derby mount when his normal rider took maternity leave. 

“He is my sister’s amateur horse and she’s on maternity leave now,” she explained. “He’s phenomenal, he has a great expression, and he jumps fantastic. He’s different from Comissario, but he’s always wanting to try and outdo him. It’s nice to have them both do well in this derby.”

David Wilbur combined high scores across two rounds to land in the final winner’s circle position with Redfield Farm’s 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cornet de Lux), Cornet’s Cuneo, on a total of 179.00 before preparations began for the evening’s $5,000 USHJA Junior/Amateur National Hunter Derby.

Chelsea Kasper stands for presentation. Photo by ESI Photography

A total of 23 combinations lined up for the class’s hunt-and-go course, but the ribboning honors went to Chelsea Kasper and Miss Mo on a total of 170.5 points. 

“She’s been an amazing partner to me,” Kasper gushed of the 16-year-old Holsteiner mare (Cristo). “We had started to lose a little confidence in each other but our new barn, Cherry Sport Horses, has got us back and feeling amazing.

Chelsea Kasper and Miss Mo. Photo by ESI Photography

“I’ve always enjoyed this format,” she continued. “I think it makes you have to be a little more versatile. The two rounds probably level the playing field a bit more but I’ve always enjoyed the hunt-and-go courses.” 

A score of 159.00 points positioned Lucy Massucci and her 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Hello Pierville), MTM Cocktail, nicely into second place, while Victoria Leonard and Louis Mayoka’s eight-year-old Hanoverian stallion (Cohibas), Czar HS, rounded out the top three with a total of 155.00 points. 

Derby competition will resume on Saturday with junior and amateur pairings lining up for the $750 Bit O’Straw Hunter Derby and $500 Tiny Bit O’ Hunter Derby.