Tonight’s $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby saw sixteen stunning Hunters contest for their share of the win over a course designed by Bobby Murphy of Lexington, Kentucky. Competition was stiff with half of the top twelve entries scoring into the eighties in the first round, but Jennifer Nadalin prevailed for the second week in a row and the third time this Winter Series. Nadalin had three entries in the Derby tonight with all finishing in the top ten and Daniela Casline’s Stellar (Quintender x Carmen) taking the top spot.
The course for tonight’s Derby began over a log vertical on the diagonal heading up the ring, then continued down a natural branch line on the rail. The course then led back up the diagonal over a brick two stride line, then bent down a birch line on the rail with an oxer option, flowed past the ingate and brought riders to a skinny brush option on a slight diagonal across the center of the ring. To finish, the course saw entries jump a vertical option at the top of the ring, then take a long canter approach to a Tuscan-inspired oxer option on the diagonal heading home.
About midway through the order of go, Jennifer Nadalin entered the arena aboard Daniela Casline’s Stellar (Quintender x Carmen). Though Stellar is a newer mount for Nadalin, the pair have been quite successful at recent Winter Series of the Midwest shows at World Equestrian Center. Together they have taken top placings in the Performance Hunter division, and Stellar has also taken top placings in the Intermediate Childrens Hunter division with owner Daniela Casline. Tonight, Nadalin and Stellar brought their A-game to the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, taking each fence perfectly in stride, jumping with plenty of style and taking all four high options for a first round score of 86.
Shortly after, Shaunnah Anderson and her own Full Count strode into the arena and laid down an impressive trip. The pair who also compete in the Amateur Owner Hunter division, were rhythmic and patient throughout their first round, waiting for the perfect distance to each fence. They took all four high options earning a score of 87.
Wrapping up the first round, Nadalin rode last week’s $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby winner, C Beyond, a gorgeous bay Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Nadalin’s daughter, Caroline. Fresh off of last week’s victory, the pair ride into the ring with confidence. C Beyond showed off his impressive jumping style, snapping his knees at each fence. They took all four high options and earned a score of 80.
The top twelve entries from the first round prepared to return to the ring as the course was reset for the handy round. The course for the handy round began at the top of the ring over a vertical option, then led to the skinny brush option across the center of the ring, now reversed. From there, the course saw entries rolling back to catch the Tuscan-inspired oxer option, now reversed, that bent to a natural branch trot fence. The course then saw entries jumping the log vertical on the diagonal, now reversed to head down the ring, then rolling back to catch the brick two stride line. The course finished by asking entries to jump the outside bending birch line with an oxer option heading home.
Returning at the beginning of the handy round to accommodate her multiple rides was Jennifer Nadalin aboard C Beyond. The flashy gelding jumped beautifully through the course as the pair took inside turns where possible and negotiated all four high options. Nadalin and C Beyond earned a score of 86 in the handy round, bringing their two round total to 166.
Nadalin returned later aboard Stellar, taking more inside turns than in her handy round with C Beyond. The pair took the inside track to the first fence as well as the two stride line, jumping a second precise, elegant round. Nadalin and Stellar also took all four high options, earning a score of 89 in the handy round, bringing their two round total to 175.
One of the last to return, Shaunnah Anderson and Full Count opted to take the same two inside turns as Nadalin. The pair mimicked their lovely rhythm from the first round, staying consistent as they took all four high options. Anderson and Full Count earned a score of 85, bringing their two round total to 172, which put them in second place just behind Nadalin and Stellar.
Jennifer Nadalin stuck around for a few minutes after the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby to chat with us about her ride aboard Stellar. “Stellar is a fairly new horse, we just got her,” Nadalin explained, “She’s Dani Casline’s horse. We got her from Ashland Farm for Dani to move up and on from the Childrens. She does the Intermediate Childrens right now with Dani, and they’ll be moving up soon. So, while she’s getting there, I get to ride her in the Derbies. This is my second Derby on her, and she’s super fun and really brave. As a matter of fact, doing the inside turn to the first jump I thought, ‘Okay, she’s a total Equitation horse,’ which made me feel really good about doing that inside turn. Even in the first round at the jump on the far end, the high option was kind of a handy fence where you had to land and turn right away. When I did it, she made me feel really good about that one. She’s just a big, lovable, do-anything kind of horse.”
Watch Jennifer Nadalin and Stellar’s winning round, courtesy of ShowNet
$2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby Results
- Stellar, Jennifer Nadalin – 86 | 89 | 175
- Full Count, Shaunnah Anderson – 87 | 85 | 172
- C Beyond, Jennifer Nadalin – 80 | 86 | 166
- Playlist, Claudia Wagner Wilson – 84 | 80 | 164
- Vision Quest, Sabrina Hall – 79 | 82 | 161
- Carbon Copy, Erin Ferguson-Hughes – 74 | 80 | 154
- Maximus L, Jennifer Nadalin – 88 | 64 | 152
- Rowan, Camille Camp – 82 | 69 | 151
- In The Light, Lilly Anthes – 76 | 74 | 150
- Persuasion, Melissa Donnelly – 73 | 75 | 148
Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.