Little Lord 112 and Laena Romond Scores High in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby To Bring Home First and Second

Laena Romond and Little Lord 112. Photo by ESI Photography

Edited Press Release

Prestigious hunters marched about the HITS Hudson Valley facility during HITS-on-the-Hudson June II show in Saugerties, New York. While 28 horse-and-rider combinations prepared to show off in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, it was Laena Romond of Brookfield, Connecticut, and Little Lord 112 that were the undeniable winners. 

The Derby followed a traditional style with a classic round followed by a handy round, where the top 12 competitors returned in reverse order of merit. The first-round course, designed by Doug Russell, consisted of 10 fences, including four high options. The handy round featured nine fences with several options for inside turns, and began with a bending line from an oxer to a trot fence. Romond and Little Lord 112 scored an 88.5 plus four high option points in the first round and came back to score a 90 plus four high option points around the handy course. A total score of 186.5 earned them the blue-ribbon honors. 

“The first course had lots of nice, flowing long lines,” described Romond. “This arena is very big and the jumps are very well decorated, so the horses really jump nicely. In the handy from fences one to two, there was an option to go inside or around the oxer. A few riders that went before me had gone inside. I originally planned to go around, but I figured I’d give it a shot and it worked out.” 

Laena Romond and Little Lord 112. Photo by ESI Photography

Little Lord 112  is new to the hunter ring and a recent partner for Romond, who works at Heritage Farm in Katonah, New York. Young U.S. grand prix star Natalie Dean brought the multi-talented horse to Heritage Farm in April. While the jumper ring might have been his first calling, the nine-year-old German Sporthorse gelding (Lord Fauntleroy x Casdorff) owned by Marigold Sporthorses LLC is now finding success in the derbies. 

“We thought he would be a good junior jumper for someone, but the more we watched him, we also thought he could excel in the equitation or hunters,” explained Romond. “I think the hunters might be his lane.”  

Because of the close proximity to Heritage Farm, Romond is a frequent exhibitor at HITS Hudson Valley. The addition of The Ring in 2023 was a particularly appreciated upgrade for her because of the arena’s exceptional quality and versatility. The Ring, located between the Grand Prix Tent and The Restaurant, is an ideal place for spectators and has featured a variety of classes from hunter derbies, to equitation and jumper classes. 

Laena Romond and Forsini. Photo by ESI Photography

“Every time we come back to HITS Hudson Valley, it’s better,” enthused Romond. They’ve made a lot of improvements that have really changed our experience here; the footing and the jumps in every ring are beautiful. The Ring has been a real asset to us. We love showing in the equitation here, and we love showing in the hunters and jumpers here as well; it’s a very useful space. On a day like this, it’s the most beautiful place to be.”

Romond followed her first-place ride to also take second in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby aboard Forsini. Romond piloted the nine-year-old Warmblood gelding by For Pleasure owned by Lexi Maounis to a score of 86 plus four high option points in the first round and 92 plus four high option points in the second round for a total score of 186, just half a point behind Little Lord 112. 

Hannah Isop and Red Ryder. Photo by ESI Photography

Taking third out of the competitive group was Hannah Isop of Pawling, New York, and Red Ryder, a 20-year-old Selle Français gelding (Hurlevent de Breka x Umour de Fenaud) owned by Tracy Freels. Their scores of 90 and 87 with four high option points in each round totaled 185 to complete the top three. 

Grace Stenbeck-Werner stands for presentation. Photo by ESI Photography

Following the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby was the $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby. Grace Stenbeck-Werner, 11, of North Salem, New York, dominated the class, taking home first, second, third, and fourth. Her first-place ride came aboard Prestige, a 13-year-old large Belgian Riding Pony gelding by Ive van de Delthoeveowned by Swede Vetures LLC. Eleven horse-and-rider combinations competed, including six large ponies, two mediums, and three smalls, with a height change between sizes. 

“Prince” has had a few notable riders in his career, amassing a lengthy resume, including the Large Pony Hunter Championship title at the 2019 USEF Pony Finals. His winning ways have only continued with Stenbeck-Werner in the irons, and the pair has accrued numerous top placings together, such as a recent win at the 2024 Devon Horse Show. With scores of 92 in the first round and 90 in the handy, they added the $1,500 USHJA Pony Hunter Derby victory to their list of accolades. 

Grace Stenbeck-Werner and Prestige. Photo by ESI Photography

“He’s just the best pony,” expressed Stenbeck-Werner. “He’s always the happiest one when I walk into the barn. He always wants love and all the attention, and he likes bananas and blue Gatorade.. 

“He’s really easy to ride,” she continued. “He’s pretty much the same at home as he is at the show. You just get on him and go. He was the first one I rode today, so I wanted to canter and get my groove and work on a nice forward pace because I tend to be a little slow sometimes.”

Stenbeck-Werner and Prince will finish out the weekend with the Large Pony Hunter division and then will take a rest before picking it back up later in the season. 

Grace Stenbeck-Werner and Gentle Touch. Photo by ESI Photography

Stenbeck-Werner finished in second place aboard Gentle Touch, a nine-year-old large German Riding Pony gelding by Get Up owned by Rivers Edge. Their score of 85.5 in the first round, followed by an 88 in the handy round, yielded a total score of 173.5.

Farmore State of the Art was Stenbeck-Werner’s third-place mount. Stenbeck-Werner guided the 18-year-old small Welsh Pony gelding by Eyarth Grenadier owned by Eva Mackenzie to scores of 86.5 and 86 for a final score of 172.5. 

Grace Stenbeck-Werner and Farmer State of the Art. Photo by ESI Photography

Derby competition continues into the weekend with The League Bit O’Straw and Tiny Bit O’ Hunter Derbies, presented by Marshall & Sterling Insurance, while jumper competition features on Saturday, June 29, with the $50,000 FarmVet Grand Prix. The $24,500 Horseflight Jumper Classic 1.35m closes out HITS-on-the–Hudson June II on Sunday, June 30.