Twenty five stunning Hunters took to the R+L Arena tonight vying for the win in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Tonight’s course featured beautifully decorated natural fences, emulating the hunt field and set at the 3′ height, along with four high options set at 3’5″. The course began with riders jumping a single vertical fence across the center near the top of the arena, then continuing around the top of the ring to jump a single vertical on an angle in the corner of the ring. This guided riders to bend down the long side of the ring to an oxer option on a diagonal near the ingate. Riders continued past the ingate, then up the diagonal to jump a bamboo pole two-stride line, which led them back to the top of the ring where they jumped a vertical option on a diagonal in the corner. Much like the other vertical in the corner, this guided riders to bend down the opposite long side of the ring to an oxer option on a diagonal near the ingate. Riders rode past the ingate again and up the opposite diagonal over a six-stride line, then rounded the top of the ring and finished the first round on an oxer option on the diagonal heading home.
First in the order of go was Doug Boyd, fresh off his victory in the Jumpers, winning last night’s $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m aboard Berkley III. Tonight, Boyd rode Calido’s Son (Calido I x Pusteblume), a lovely dark bay Hunter owned by Mimi Rothman. Calido’s Son has an impressive Derby history, including a sixth place finish in the 2018 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship Derby Challenge last August. The pair were effortless throughout their first round, taking each fence perfectly in stride and taking all four high options with ease. Their impeccable round earned them a score of 92, setting a high standard for the twenty four entries to follow.
The first round saw plenty of impressive Hunters, including Shakespeare (Sir Donnerhall x Stutbuch), who returned to the arena tonight after his win in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby at World Equestrian Center just last week. Owner Lee Cesery rode Shakespeare tonight while trainer Jason Berry, who rode the horse to victory last week, watched from the ingate. Shakespeare brought the same style to the ring as he did last week while he and Cesery rode the course. The pair jumped all four high options for a first round score of 87.
Not long after Cesery and Shakespeare’s round, Boyd entered the ring on his second ride of the night, At One’s Word, another horse owned by Mimi Rothman. The pair were consistent and polished, taking all four high options in stride as Boyd did aboard his first mount. Boyd and At One’s Word’s pleasant first round earned them a score of 84.
Twelve of horse and rider pairs scored into the eighties during the first round, including Kasey Evans and Lanie Parker’s Candyman (Cantos x Cavanta Z). Evans and the grey Dutch Warmblood rode a consistent course, jumping all four high options for a score of 86. Mary Mielenz and Shanna Beyer’s Lacoste (Limbus Z x Corrada) were also part of those that scored into the eighties in the first round, taking all four high options for a score of 84.5. The incredible amount of notable first rounds brought the cut off score for the handy round to 80.5.
The ring was prepped for the handy round, with the oxer option by the ingate on the right side of the ring being flipped the opposite direction away from the ingate. The handy round started on this oxer option, then rolled back to the skinny trot jump down the center line. From there, riders jumped the two-stride line across the diagonal, continued around the top of the ring to jump the vertical option in the corner on a diagonal and bent to the second oxer option heading toward the ingate. To finish, riders jumped the single vertical across the center of the ring, then rolled around to the oxer option across the diagonal heading home.
All of the top scoring horse and rider pairs from the first round returned near the end of the handy round, beginning with Doug Boyd and At One’s Word. The pair rode a second skilled round, opting to only take two of the four high options in the handy round. Boyd and At One’s Word earned a score of 81, bringing their two-round total to 165.
Shortly after, Mary Mielenz and Lacoste returned to the arena. Mielenz and Lacoste stayed consistent, as they did in their first round, thoughtfully negotiating the handy course. The pair took all four high options again, and executed several handy turns, earning them a score of 87 in the second round. This brought their two-round total to 171.5.
Next, Kasey Evans and Candyman returned to the ring. The pair chose several handy turns as well, and also opted for all four high options. Evans and Candyman earned a score of 83.5, bringing their two-round total to 169.5, putting the pair just behind Mielenz and Lacoste.
Lee Cesery and Shakespeare were next to contest the handy course. The pair brought plenty of style to their round, as they did in the first round. Cesery and Shakespeare chose to take two high options, and earned a score of 80.5 in the handy round, which brought their two-round total to 167.5, placing them behind Evans and Candyman.
Doug Boyd of Sapphire Riding Academy in Mettawa, Illinois, returned one last time aboard Calido’s Son to wrap up the class. The pair brought the effortless feel from their first round back to the ring for the handy round, taking several handy turns and all four high options without fault. Their second masterful round earned them a score of 88, bringing their overall score to 180, sending them to the top of the leader board for the win in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby.
Boyd was elated with his second-night-in-a-row victory, as was the crowd that cheered him on. We caught up with him after the class to chat about his ride tonight aboard Calido’s Son. “Tonight’s course was fair [to the horses], and Calido’s Son jumped great. He was lovely,” said Boyd. He describes the dark bay Holsteiner gelding as the “barn king” adding that “Calido’s Son has been a National Champion. He’s a wonderful, once in a lifetime horse to have.”
$2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby Results
- Calido’s Son, Doug Boyd – 92 | 88 | 180
- Lacoste, Mary Mielenz – 84.5 | 87 | 171.5
- Candyman, Kasey Evans – 86 | 83.5 | 169.5
- Cornetto, Taylor Willever – 83 | 85 | 168
- Shakespeare, Lee Cesery – 87 | 80.5 | 167.5
- Roc’s All That, Taylor Holstead – 82.5 | 84 | 166.5
- Neuwirth SCF, Mary Mielenz – 84 | 82 | 166
- At One’s Word, Doug Boyd – 84 | 81 | 165
- Corenties Z, Libby Dayton – 80.5 | 82 | 162.5
- Classic, Lauren DiTallo – 82 | 72 | 154
Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.