Seventeen brilliant Hunters took to the R+L Areana this evening to vie for top honors in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Ultimately it was Caroline Nadalin’s C Beyond, piloted by her mom Jennifer Nadalin, who stood in the Winner’s Circle at the end of the night. Despite fierce competition from Michael Leon and his fleet of lovely Hunters, Nadalin and C Beyond took home the blue, a fitting reward for two undeniably stylish rounds.
The course for this evening’s $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby was designed by Keith J. Bollotte. Each of the fences in the R+L Arena were flanked with plentiful cedar brush, emulating obstacles that might be found in the hunt field. The first course began over a single birch vertical on the diagonal heading up the ring, then flowed around the top of the ring to a second single vertical on the rail that bent down the diagonal to a log oxer. The course continued past the ingate and over a Tuscan-inspired vertical option on the rail that bent across the diagonal to a brick vertical option. That led back to the top of the ring, to a vertical option on a short diagonal that bent to a natural two stride line on the rail heading home. The course finished over a Tuscan-inspired vertical on the diagonal that bent up the ring to a vertical option on the short diagonal the opposite direction, which allowed for a long canter to exit the ring.
Watch Michael Leon and Eleventh Hour’s first round, courtesy of ShowNet
Near the top of the order of go was Michael Leon, who had a total of four horses to ride in the Derby. His first mount was Kelly Sims’ Eleventh Hour (Christ x Baloubette), who took second in last week’s $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Along with their second place finish last week, Leon and Eleventh Hour have taken top placings in various Professional Hunter divisions along the East Coast. Leon and the striking bay Oldenburg gelding were prepared to bring serious competition to the Derby ring again this week. The pair laid down a stylish round, taking all four high options for a score of 91, setting a high standard for the class.
None were able to score into the 90s until Jennifer Nadalin entered the ring near the end of the first round aboard her daughter’s C Beyond. Nadalin’s daughter, Caroline, has ridden C Beyond to top placings throughout the 2019 Winter Series of the Midwest in the Junior Hunter division. This evening, Nadalin and C Beyond strode into the ring with an air of confidence, laying down a stunning first round and taking all for high options for a score of 90.
Last in the order of go, Michael Leon returned again, this time aboard Kelly Sims’ True Enough (Catoki x Hauptstutbuch Chardas Fürstin). The pair took third place in last week’s $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby and have also taken top placings in Professional Hunter divisions along the East Coast. The pair rode a flawless round and, combined with True Enough’s fantastic jumping style, earned a score of 87.
The course was reset as the top twelve horse and rider pairs prepared to return for the handy round. The course for the handy round began over the single on the rail at the top of the ring, now reversed, and continued to the brick vertical option down the diagonal. From there, the course rolled back to the second vertical option at the top of the ring, now a trot option, and continued down the rail to the natural two stride line. The course then led up the Tuscan-inspired vertical option, bent to the brick vertical option heading back up the ring, and finished with a hand gallop to the log oxer on the diagonal.
First of the top three contenders to return was Michael Leon and True Enough. They delivered a second stylish round, taking all four high options and a handy inside turn to the final fence that Leon demonstrated with all of his mounts in the handy round. Leon and True Enough earned a score of 87.5 in the second round, bringing their two round total to 174.5, the highest score thus far.
Next of the top three contenders to return was Jennifer Nadalin and C Beyond. C Beyond seemed to try even harder in the handy round, snapping his knees at every fence. The pair were incredibly consistent and pleasing to watch, taking all four high options and executing a brilliant hand gallop to the final fence. Nadalin and C Beyond earned a score of 90 in the second round, bringing their two round total to 180, for the lead.
Last to return was Michael Leon aboard Eleventh Hour. The pair were rhythmic throughout the round, taking each fence in stride and keeping a consistent pace through their handy turns. Leon again opted to take the inside turn to the final fence. The pair jumped all four high options and earned a score of 88.5 in the handy round, bringing their two round total to 179.5, just one-half-point shy of Nadalin and C Beyond’s final score.
Jennifer Nadalin stuck around for a moment after the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby to chat with us about her ride aboard C Beyond. “C Beyond is Caroline’s horse. We call Caroline ‘C’, so we fell in love with him and then found out that his name was ‘C Beyond’, and we agreed that it was meant to be. He’s a totally willing, lovely horse,” says Nadalin, “He does the 3’3″ Junior Hunters with Caroline, and he has won another Derby at Country Heir. I’ve been trying to do the Derby on him whenever possible. He has a phenomenal personality. He’s like a big puppy dog, he could live in your living room.” Nadalin, who had three other horses finish in the top 12 tonight, also noted that the fourth place finisher Maximus L (Camax L x Doreen), has a very similar personality to C Beyond, and that they are two of the sweetest horses she rides.
Watch Jennifer Nadalin and C Beyond’s winning handy round courtesy of ShowNet
$2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby Results
- C Beyond, Jennifer Nadalin – 90 | 90 | 180
- Eleventh Hour, Michael Leon – 91 | 88.5 | 179.5
- True Enough, Michael Leon – 87 | 87.5 | 174.5
- Maximus L, Jennifer Nadalin – 84 | 88 | 172
- Classic, Lauren DiTallo – 88 | 83.5 | 171.5
- Colorado 222, Katana O’Brien – 86 | 83 | 169
- Revival, Abigail Fox – 83 | 80 | 163
- Bacchus, Michael Leon – 74 | 87 | 161
- Winterfell, Jennifer Nadalin – 75 | 82 | 157
- Stellar, Jennifer Nadalin – 77 | 79 | 156
- Wisteria BD, Alyssa Schiller – 76 | 73 | 149
- Esperanza, Haley Maher – 73 | 75 | 148