Ocala, FL – The $12,500 WEC 3’6-3’9 Hunter Derby sponsored by Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club stole the spotlight at World Equestrian Center – Ocala Friday afternoon. A field of seasoned hunter athletes vied for the win in the prestigious class over Doug Russell’s (USA) elegant tracks. Ultimately, it was Jennifer Bliss (USA) and her longtime mount Poker Face (Tangelo Van De Zuutheve x Nicolette V) who captured the win on the first hunter derby Friday of the 2023 Ocala Summer Series.
Bliss and Harris Hill Farm LLC’s experienced Dutch Warmblood gelding characteristically rose to the challenge, earning a first-round score of 89.
“Pokey had a spring break after the winter circuit. He hasn’t shown in about two months. He has been in work, but a lot of flat work and trail riding! At this stage in the game, it is just about keeping him fit and happy. He is such a trier. He is 18 this year and at this point he owes us absolutely nothing, he is with us no matter what. I just still feel like he really enjoys it. So as long as he still likes his job we will keep going. In the schooling area, I can hardly make him go, but know that he will always go in the ring and grow!”
No strangers to the winner’s circle at WEC – Ocala, the duo held onto the lead throughout the entirety of the class and came back for the handy hunting the blue.
“I tried to be quite tidy after jump one. There were a couple of different options there. I tried to stay tidy to the trot jump at number three. Those were my main things, and I just wanted to stay nice and smooth. I planned to try that tight right turn after the last jump. I knew I needed to take a little bit of a shot with Dorrie [Douglas] coming after me because she is always super handy.”
Smoothly making each inside turn and making incredible efforts over the high options, Poker Face left the judges awe-inspired with his form and pleasant expression.
“For us, WEC – Ocala has been really nice to have as an option. We used to live in New York in the summertime, but for the last five years now we have been in Florida full-time. For me personally, the biggest change was the summer schedule. Logistically, it is harder to get out of Florida for the summer shows so to have this facility so easy and close to get to is amazing. The quality is so consistent and predictable. You never really have to worry about the weather. We love having this facility within our range now in Florida.”
Another 89 in the handy earned the winning pair an overall score of 178 to gallop away with the winning rosette on the bridle.
Lulu Rodriguez, Bliss’s daughter shared her perspective of the performance. “My mom was good! I told her to take one big jump! The first jump was bad. I didn’t want her to get a brown ribbon, but at least a purple one!”
$12,500 Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club WEC 3’6-3’9 Hunter Derby Results:
1 Poker Face, Jennifer Bliss, Harris Hill Farm LLC | 89 | 89 | 178
2 MTM Lolah LOL, Dorothy Douglas, Abigail Davenport | 87 | 90.5 | 177.5
3 Chacco Ricco, Erika Moore, Noble Steeds LLC | 85 | 84 | 169
4 High Renaissance, Elizabeth Blaisdell, Della Equestrian | 80 | 78 | 158
5 Hollywood, Erika Moore, Moore Acres LLC | 78 | 72 | 150
6 Cicero 117, Mickie Sage, Sigma Stables LLC | 79 | 68 | 147
7 Starfighter, Jordan Lubow, Stefano Baruzzo | 74 | 54.5 | 128.5
8 Isle Royale, Rebecca Brady, Deborah Wroblewski | 46 | 82 | 128
9 FRF Marquis, Jake Evans, Elizabeth Barnes | 47 | 65 | 112
10 Lord Don, Triston Smith, Triston Smith | 44 | 54 | 98
Dorothy Douglas & MTM Exceptional are Back on Top in the $10,000 UF Veterinary Hospital USHJA National 3′ Open Hunter Derby
The first hunter derby Friday of the 2023 Ocala Summer Series commenced with the $10,000 UF Veterinary Hospital USHJA National 3′ Open Hunter Derby. Twenty-nine horse-and-athlete combinations mastered Russell’s tracks, though it was Dorothy Douglas (USA) that rode MTM Exceptional (Casall Ask x Rheinsberg) to the top of the leaderboard.
Picking up right where they left off from their win in the $75,000 UF Veterinary Hospital Open Hunter Derby during Week XII of 2023 Winter Spectacular, the duo never missed a beat, earning two high scores in the 90s.
Douglas, of MTM Farm, piloted the seasoned 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding to a first-round score of 91, moving into the handy phase sitting on top.
“The last time I showed him he won the $75,000 class in the stadium. He had about two or three months off after that. I have had him for about five or six years now and you are really able to just practice good riding with him. He is seriously just the best horse. You can always rely on him to do what you ask. His owner will come next week and will do him in the amateurs,” Douglas spoke highly of her winning mount.
Returning for the handy aboard Abigail Davenport’s MTM Exceptional, Douglas laid down a textbook round, impressing the judges for a second-round score of 93.
“The set up here in the indoor is amazing. We were really able to focus on this this morning. The courses are always amazing and Doug [Russell] always does such a great job. The scores were all pretty close going back in for the handy and it just puts the pressure on. You really rely on the fact that the horses are going to jump well and you have to go in and stick to your plan and do all of the inside turns to keep up with the high scores here.”
The competitive duo earned an overall score of 184 for the first derby win of the 2023 Ocala Summer Series.
The UF Veterinary Hospital at World Equestrian Center
The UF Veterinary Hospital at World Equestrian Center provides leading-edge patient care in a new 40,000-square-foot hospital facility located in Ocala, Florida. Veterinarians from the University of Florida offer world-class veterinary care and advanced diagnostics and treatment for horses, dogs and cats.
Hours of Operation:
Equine Animal Hospital Open Monday – Sunday, 8am-5pm
Small Animal Hospital, Open Monday – Saturday, 8am-5pm
Contact us at 352-414-3858
$10,000 UF Veterinary Hospital USHJA National Open Hunter Derby Results:
1 MTM Exceptional, Dorothy Douglas, Abigail Davenport | 91 | 93 |184
2 Candy Crush, Jake Evans, Sally Reichert | 87 | 96 | 183
3 Marseille, Adrianne Gamboa, Margaret Snyder | 90 | 90 | 180
4 Wisely, Jordan Lubow, Opening Bell Sporthorses | 86.5 | 92 | 178.5
5 Auheim’s Cosmo Brown, Jenny Miller, Page Flournoy | 86 | 88 | 174
6 Ladies First, Vivianne Kassin, Elysian Stables LLC | 84.5 | 88.5 | 173
7 Calrissian, Kyle Dewar, Stephanie Keen | 83 | 89 | 172
8 Flight, Jennifer Bliss, Dandelion Farm LLC | 84 | 86 | 170
9 MTM Waypoint, Jenny Miller, Coventry Berg | 88 | 81 | 169
10 MTM Figurative, Dorothy Douglas, Abigail Davenport | 89 | 78 | 167
Ella Bostwick & K&T Game Of Thrones Excel in $10,000 USHJA National Jr/Am Hunter Derby
Eighteen junior and amateur competitors took to the beautifully decorated derby arena for the $10,000 USHJA National Jr/Am Hunter Derby early in the afternoon. After the completion of a classic hunter phase and a handy phase, it was Ella Bostwick (USA) that rose to the top with K&T Game Of Thrones (Gamelus R x E Titty De Laubry).
“K&T Game Of Thrones just turned seven. We just got him in January. He was supposed to be a jumper but he is way too quiet for that job! He is turning out to be a really nice hunter and I am really excited about his future. I am really proud of him today! We have not broken his green year yet, so we were thinking about doing that this year. We have thought about maybe doing some international derbies because he certainly has the scope for it. If we decide to hold on to him for a little while I would like to try Derby Finals, I think that would be a lot of fun,” Bostwick expressed about her mount.
Bostwick, of Wellington, Florida, piloted her seven-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding to two confident rounds in his third derby of his career, paving the way for a successful future in the hunter ring.
Bostwick spoke on the course, “I loved the course today. I liked how long the bending lines were and you could really just flow down them and not worry too much about a number. I loved the handy. There were a lot of tough questions. There was a tighter inside turn that I could have done but I chose not to since he is new at this. It is only his third derby.”
The duo rode to a first-round score of 86 and maintained the lead moving into the handy phase.
The talented amateur rider returned for the handy with Christine Bostwick’s young hunter to find a smooth, flowing effort over Russell’s track. Swiftly making tidy turns and maintaining a consistent rhythm, Bostwick earned a second-round score of 87 for a two-round total of 173 to take the win.
$10,000 USHJA National Jr/Am Hunter Derby Results:
1 K&T Game Of Thrones, Ella Bostwick, Christine Bostwick | 86 | 87 | 173
2 Bode Well, Olivia Burns, Melissa Burns | 81 | 84 | 165
3 Fitz, Isabel Harbour, Imh Equine LLC | 80.5 | 83.5 | 164
4 MTM Grateful, Adella Alletto, MTM Farm | 78 | 83 | 161
5 Consanto, Lily Toensing, Lily Toensing | 72 | 82 | 154
6 Kenobi, Gabriella Savettiere, Ayr Farms LLC | 76 | 77 | 153
7 Best Of Me, Ashley Wallace, Ashley Wallace | 73 | 76 | 149
8 Catan H, Adele Dewar, Ashland Farms | 73 | 74 | 147
9 Continue, Kylie Wilson, Bonnie Way Equestrian | 75 | 71 | 146
10 Gladstone, Madison Berger, Berger Equine LLC | 69.5 | 71 | 140.5