Jennifer Nadalin and Maximus L (Camax L x Doreen), a gorgeous bay Westphalian owned by Owen Gajoch and Michelle Newman, bested a field of twenty four tonight to win the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Tonight’s class was the second Derby Maximus L has ever competed in, and his win was nothing short of impressive.
The course for tonight’s $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby was designed by Keith J. Bollotte, a course designer with more than thirty years of experience in the industry. The course was decorated with plentiful cedar brush and natural obstacles that riders might encounter in the hunt field. Riders were asked to begin the course by jumping a log vertical on the diagonal, then continue to two Tuscan-inspired option verticals that bent through the center line of the ring. From there, riders jumped a birch oxer on the quarter line, then bent to the option vertical near the top of the ring. Riders continued down the outside line in four strides, then rode up the second option vertical near the ingate. To finish, riders jumped a log vertical at the top of the ring on a diagonal that bent to a two stride line headed home.
Near the top of the order of go was Jennifer Nadalin aboard Owen Gajoch and Michelle Newman’s Maximus L (Camax L x Doreen). The pair took third place in last week’s $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, and they looked prepared to lay down another fantastic effort tonight. Nadalin and Maximus L navigated the course with ease, taking all four high options and impressing the judges with their finesse, earning a score of 86 in the first round.
Lauren DiTallo and Scott Durchslag’s Classic (Clearway x Ferraraii) followed soon after. Earlier this Winter in January, the pair placed third in the World Equestrian Center’s $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. DiTallo and Classic had an easy, natural style about their ride, taking all four high options in stride for a score of 87 in the first round.
Next in the ring was Gabrielle Conte and CKE Horse Enterprises’s Cavallotto (Hunters Argentus x Ela Noir PJ 3). The pair delivered a steady, flowing first round taking all four high options and earning a score of 84.
The ring was dragged and the course was reset for the handy round which began on the in of the four stride line heading home, then rolled back to the log vertical on the diagonal, now lowered to a trot jump. Riders continued around the top of the ring to jump the Tuscan-inspired option vertical heading down the diagonal and bent to the out of the four stride line. From there, riders jumped the two stride line to the log fence on a diagonal at the top of the ring, all reversed from the first round to head up the arena. Riders then rode down the diagonal to the second option vertical and continued past the ingate to jump the birch oxer on the quarter line and bend to the option vertical near the top of the ring. To finish, riders rounded the top of the ring and hand galloped to jump the option vertical near the ingate one last time.
First of the top contenders to return was Jennifer Nadalin aboard Maximus L, riding early in the order of go to accommodate having multiple horses continue to the handy round. The pair repeated their easy, flowing rhythm from the first round, executing several handy turns and taking all four high options flawlessly. Nadalin and Maximus L earned a score of 90 in the handy round, sending them straight to the top of the leader board with a total score of 176.
Gabrielle Conte and Cavallotto returned later in the handy round repeating their lovely, consistent ride from the first round. The pair took all four high options again, matching their score of 84 from the first round for a two round total of 168, which moved them to second place.
Last to return was Lauren DiTallo aboard Classic. DiTallo and the lovely grey gelding also repeated their stellar ride from the first round, taking all four high options for a score of 174, moving them to second place and Conte and Cavallotto to third place.
We caught up with Jennifer Nadalin after her win to chat about her ride aboard Maximus L. “This is his second Hunter Derby,” Nadalin explained, “He felt great and jumped great, and this is a great way to start off the year. I’m super excited. I was really just trying to get him some Derby experience! He’s one of the most fun horses I’ve ever had.” Nadalin explained that, at just seven years old, Maximus L does not require a ton of prep, going straight from the stall to the show ring. “He’s the sweetest horse in the world,” Nadalin grinned, “He gives you a hug before you get on, and the hardest part about getting on is that you don’t want to stop the hug. He’s absolutely just the sweetest thing.”
Nadalin’s daughter, Caroline, also rides Maximus L and was Champion in the Childrens division just last week. Nadalin plans for both herself and Caroline to continue riding Maximus L and to continue to help him gain Derby experience. Maximus L’s grooms, Chase Passarella and Tori Vogel, shared the Groom’s Award tonight, which includes $100 cash and a $50 WEC Gift Card, for his stunning turnout.
$2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby Results
- Maximus L, Jennifer Nadalin – 86 | 90 | 176
- Classic, Lauren DiTallo – 87 | 87 | 174
- Cavallotto, Gabrielle Conte – 84 | 84 | 168
- Casillas CH, Janet Hedges – 77 | 84 | 161
- Harvey, Jason Berry – 81 | 79 | 160
- C Beyond, Jennifer Nadalin – 86.5 | 70 | 156.5
- Vision Quest, Sabrina Hall – 79 | 74 | 153
- Rythmico, Reghan Wiskochil – 75.5 | 76 | 151.5
- Grayshott, Kaitlyn Skog – 73 | 72 | 145
- Diamond Street, Abby George – 74 | 69 | 143