Ocala, FL – World Equestrian Center – Ocala hosted the largest Hunter Derby Friday to date, as more than 150 elegant horse-and-rider combinations competed in the $20,000 MARS Equestrian 3’6”-3’9” Hunter Derby, $15,000 UF Veterinary Hospital 3’ Open Hunter Derby and $15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Jr/Am Hunter Derby.
The WEC Grand Arena played host to 54 world’s best hunter athletes as they gathered to compete over an outstanding course built by Bobby Murphy of Lexington, Kentucky. The first-round track in the $20,000 MARS Equestrian 3’6”-3’9” Hunter Derby saw an abundance of beautifully decorated obstacles such as the MARS Equestrian hedge option fence and the stone wall engulfed in a sea of greenery. Competition was fierce in the derby with scores soaring into the 90s, but it was Jenny Miller and Erica Prockow’s MTM Nabilli (Thunder Van Du Zuuthoeve x Weurika Van’t Voorhof) that scored their very first hunter derby victory at World Equestrian Center – Ocala.
Miller spoke about Murphy’s intricate first round track, “I was so thrilled to go sixteenth in the order, because I was able to watch a couple go, then I had to immediately follow. There wasn’t time for me to sit around and get nervous,” said Miller, “The jumps tonight were stunning. It looked like Bobby went into the woods and chopped down some trees! The first two jumps were just mind-blowingly gorgeous. Then the last green oxer, after the two-stride was enormous. I think Bobby thought he was building for derby finals,” joked Miller.
Miller and the ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding found a lovely first round, opting to jump all four high options for a score of 89.
“I went right back to the barn after our round to start wrapping horses. I had looked at the field of riders behind me and there were some major names in the list. I figured I would probably make it to the handy, but I would just be sitting sixth or seventh. When Kim Perlman called, telling me there were six left, it’s time to get on and head down, he was like, ‘oh yeah, by the way you’re still sitting second,’ I got nervous all over again,” laughed Miller.
“The handy had such a beautiful flow to it. I think all 12 of us did all of the same turns. The first few went around to the massive green oxer, but then Kate Conover went inside. From then on everyone knew they had to go inside to try and beat her. That was the only turn I didn’t walk because it didn’t look doable, and of course Kate went and made it look effortless,” laughed Miller.
Miller and MTM Nabilli laid down a foot perfect performance, flowing through each turn brilliantly, while jumping each fence in stellar form to secure a score of 90 from the judges for a two-round total of 179 for the win.
“Nabilli just thrived out there tonight. I can’t thank Kim Perlman, Erica Prockow and my team enough. All credit of my handy round goes to Mike McCormick, Dorrie Douglas and Tracy Fenney. Mike has been giving me lessons for the past two years and all of them really taught me how to shape the horse and stay on track. I am so happy Nabilli is in our lives, I never thought I’d have a horse like him to compete in the big derbies,” shared Miller.
It was a very special night for Miller, “To win with that many horses in this ring with my mom and entire barn here is just unbelievable. Everyone was screaming and doing the wave. I always have fun, but tonight was something special.”
Just behind Miller and MTM Nabilli was Amanda Steege and Cheryl Olsten’s Lafitte De Muze (Darco x Everlychin De La Pomme). Steege and the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding found a seamless track in the first round for a score of 92. The pair returned on-top, delivering another superb performance for a handy score of 86.25 for an overall score of 178.25 for second place.
Kate Conover and Attendu De Lannois Z (Arko III x Caletina V/D Bremboshoeve) owned by Ashland Farms raised the bar during the handy portion of the class. The pair received a first round score of 83.5 and came back to the handy sitting in tenth. Conover and the nine-year-old Zangersheide navigated a stunning handy track, taking a tidy turn to the large green oxer for a high score of 91 for a two-round total of 174.5 to ultimately round out the top three.
$20,000 MARS Equestrian 3’6”-3’9” Hunter Derby Results:
1 MTM Nabilli, Jenny Miller, Erica Prockow: 89 | 90 | 179
2 Lafitte De Muze, Amanda Steege, Cheryl Olsten: 92 | 86.25 | 178.25
3 Attendu De Lannois Z, Kate Conover, Ashland Farms: 83.5 | 91 | 174.5
4 Easy Money, Daniel Geitner, Laura Cramer: 84.5 | 86.5 | 171
5 Coltrane, Daniel Geitner, Magnolia Lane Stables, LLC: 87 | 83.5 | 170.5
6 Efendi, Tessa Downey, Ashland Farms: 84 | 86 | 170
7 Spark Of Phoenix. Caroline Olsen, Olsen LLC: 85.25 | 84.25 | 169.5
8 Pinot Del Sole, Samantha Wolfram, Maya Wyman: 82.25 | 87 | 169.25
9 Hollywood, Erika Moore, Moore Acres, LLC: 86.25 | 80 | 166.25
10 Kapatero, Kate Hagerty, The Hagerty Family: 85 | 78 | 163
Jeff Gogul & Candy Girl Earn Sweet Victory in the $15,000 UF Veterinary Hospital 3’ Open Hunter Derby
Thirty-one elite hunter combinations gathered at the beautifully decorated Hunter 1 arena early this morning to compete for the top prize in the $15,000 UF Veterinary Hospital 3’ Open Hunter Derby. Tucker Williams (USA) crafted the winding tracks that allowed riders to show off their horse’s rideability and brilliance. Jeff Gogul of Wilmington, Ohio and Reilly Gogul’s Candy Girl (Cador x Cassina) secured a sweet victory after navigating two flawless rounds to earn two scores in the high 80s.
Candy Girl is new to the hunter ring, “We just imported Candy girl in October. She’s only competed in two hunter divisions, and this is her first derby. She’s already won a junior class and is doing a little bit of equitation. I rode her in the hotel ring yesterday and she was great, then it worked out better for our schedule to do her in this class today and it looks like I made the right choice,” laughed Gogul.
Gogul and nine-year-old Oldenburg mare found an effortless first round to receive the highest score of 89 to return on-top.
“There were some tighter turn options in the handy that I didn’t even think of doing. To be honest, I didn’t get a chance to walk the course this morning, we had horses showing in three rings and I didn’t have enough time to run over here,” said Gogul. “I tried to watch the tracks from the side of the ring. For me it’s always about weighing what’s handy and what would be more of a jumper turn in my opinion. There were a few turns I could have done, but with this being her first handy, I wanted to go in and give her a nice experience.”
The pair found a seamless track to earn a score of 89.5 for a two-round total of 178.5 for the win.
$15,000 UF Veterinary Hospital 3’ Open Hunter Derby Results:
1 Candy Girl, Jeff Gogul, Reilly Gogul: 89 | 89.5 | 178.5
2 Carsten S, Jennifer Tate, Barbara Kravetz: 85 | 91 | 176
3 Waverly, Samantha Schaefer, R & R Sport Horses, LLC: 87 | 88 | 175
4 Driftwood, Lauren Schweppe, Sheila Slack: 84 | 89 | 173
5 Cataumet, Lauren Schweppe, Cynthia Boudreau: 82 | 90 | 172
6 Came On, Hillary Rheinheimer, Linda Brill: 86 | 85 | 171
7 Debonair, Jennifer Tate, Barbara Kravetz: 81.5 | 86 | 167.5
8 Cha Ching HPF, Amber Viera, Fiona Fitzgerald: 87 | 79 | 166
9 MTM Waypoint, Jenny Miller, Coventry Berg: 80.75 | 83 | 163.75
10 Kir Royal, Carolyn Catton, Grace Dal Bello: 83 | 78.5 | 161.5
Isabel Harbour Scores Back-to-Back Wins in the $15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Jr/Am Hunter Derby
The $15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Jr/Am Hunter Derby saw a strong field of 68 junior and amateur athletes vie for the blue ribbon in the $15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Jr/Am Hunter Derby, but it was Isabel Harbour who navigated two stellar handy rounds to secure first and second place.
Harbour scored last week’s win in the $15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Jr/Am Hunter Derby aboard Robin Felton’s Condor. Harbour repeated her win this week with the talented gelding and earned second place aboard IMH Equine, LLC’s Fitz (Numero Uno x Kootje).
Harbour found beautiful rounds on both her mounts, scoring an 88 aboard Fitz and an 86 aboard Condor.
Harbour returned to the handy first aboard Condor, “When I came back I was sitting sixth and nineth. When I walked the handy this morning, I was so excited because the track was right up my alley. I was planning on doing every inside turn there was, and Terry encouraged me go infront of the tree to the last and I think that sold it.”
Harbour and the adorable 11-year-old Warmblood gelding found an effortless track for a high score of 91 for a two round total of 177, which held rank for the remainder of the class.
“Condor is a dream to ride. The handy felt like a mini jump-off round with him. He was perfect. He lengthens and shortens his step so beautifully and turns on a dime. I had a blast with both horses,” expressed Harbour. “After I finished the round on Condor, I knew whoever was going to win was going to do that track, and I tried to replicate it on Fitz. I have to be a bit more careful with him because he likes to play and have a little bit too much fun, but he was incredible. I am so proud of them both.”
“It was such a big class. It feels incredible to win anything, but with that many in it, I just don’t even have words. I commend the judges, and WEC always does an incredible job. I will show here for forever, we love it here,” shared Harbour.
$15,000 WEC Ocala 3’ Jr/Am Hunter Derby Results:
1 Condor, Isabel Harbour, Robin Felton: 86 | 91 | 177
2 Fitz, Isabel Harbour, IMH Equine, LLC: 88 | 87 | 175
3 Taxi Boy, Rebecca Love, Rai-Star LLC: 90.5 | 82 | 172.5
4 Ziggy Stardust, Avery Glynn, Opening Bell Sporthorses, LLC: 88.75 | 82 | 170.5
5 Jagerbomb, Isabelle Ehman, Infinity Equestrian LLC: 89.5 | 79 | 168.5
6 Double Tap, Jordan Martin, Jordan Martin: 84 | 76 | 160
7 Jaguar, Tori Leitman, Tori Leitman: 84.5 | 71 | 155.5
8 Style, Annabelle Brown, Annabelle Brown: 91 | 64 | 155
9 MTM Post Script, Avery Glynn, Cecilia Halsey: 90 | 64 | 154
10 Crackerjack, Chloe Tanner, Jackie Macdonald: 87 | 64 | 151
‘Style of Riding Award’
Before the start of the handy round in the $20,000 MARS Equestrian 3’6″-3’9″ Hunter Derby, Bill Rube presented the prestigious Style of Riding Award to Kate Conover for her classic style and sportsmanship. The recipient serves as a role model for preserving the integrity and tradition of equestrian sport. “This award is very special to me because the recipient of this award pays it forward both in and out of the show ring,” says Rube. Conover received an elegant duffel bag and wore a white rose corsage on her lapel throughout the handy round to signify her achievement.
Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.
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