Wilmington, Ohio – An impressive field of picturesque hunters convened in the R+L Arena Friday to showcase their style in the $15,000 USHJA National Open 3’ Hunter Derby of Winter Classic 11. Course designer Robert Barton (USA) returned to craft the decorative hunter tracks in the R+L Arena. Ultimately, it was Kathleen Caya (USA) that dominated the class taking the win aboard Copa Du Cache (Cooper VD Heffnick x Urtoucha VD) and second place with Eurythmix.
No stranger to the winner’s circle, Caya piloted the same two mounts to first and third place in the prestigious class most recently at Winter Classic #6.
The seasoned hunter professional of Integrity Farm in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, held the lead with her top mount, Copa Du Cache through the entirety of the class. The duo returned as the final to contest for the handy round with a first round score of 89.
The ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding made fluid efforts over the handy track with Caya in the irons and was the only horse of the day to impress the judges to earn a score of 90. The pair earned 179, the overall high score of the day, to take home the blue.
“I just try to keep them happy! They both want to be good horses and they want to jump well, so I just focus on keeping them at their happiest and keep them wanting to do their job. I just stay out of their way,” laughed Caya as she explained her preparation for renowned class.
Returning with a first round score of 83 aboard Eurythmix, the nine-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Susan Winchester, Caya intended to move up the leaderboard in search of a double victory. Their handy effort earned a score of 88 and a two-round total of 171 to earn second place honors.
Caya spoke on her rounds, “I always try and go for it since he [Copa Du Cache] is so good. I always think about the next time and try to get better, it was a fun course tonight with a lot of options, so I went in and went for it. I took the inside track on Eurythmix from the trot jump to the last fence to try and move up. We are really prepping them for Derby Finals, so we are just trying to get smoother and better.”
$15,000 USHJA National Open 3’ Hunter Derby Results:
1 Copa Du Cache, Kathleen Caya, Colleen Nagy White | 89 | 90 | 179
2 Eurythmix, Kathleen Caya, Susan Winchester | 83 | 88 | 171
3 California, Ainsley Vince, Victoria McDonald | 81 | 89 | 170
4 Rio, Megan Bash, Amber Ashba | 80 | 85 | 165
5 Sazerac, Kaitlyn Skog, Melissa Hague | 82.5 | 82 | 164.5
6 Levidinus, Jonathon Fischetti, Jonathon Fischetti | 83.5 | 78 | 161.5
7 Credible De Bornival Z, Kathleen Caya, Colleen Nagy White | 74 | 82 | 156
8 Diatano PS, Carolyn Meng, Thinkslikeahorse | 82 | 69 | 151
9 Be Eme Diablo, Eliza Gretok, Kristin Gretok | 74 | 71 | 145
10 House Of Bourbon, Gabrielle Baker, Morgan Glidden | 69 | 72 | 141
Sarah Barker & Cheers Best the $15,000 USHJA National Non-Pro 3’ Hunter Derby
Thirty starters took to the R+L Arena earlier in the afternoon to kick off hunter derby Friday with the $15,000 USHJA National Non-Pro 3’ Hunter Derby of Winter Classic 11. The stunning field of horse-and-athlete combinations earned high scores in the 80s throughout the class, but none matched Sarah Barker’s (CAN) stylish efforts with her own Cheers (Cabardino).
Barker, riding out of The Summit in Ontario, Canada, made a striking return to World Equestrian Center – Wilmington for the first time since 2020, laying down a steady first round for a score of 83.5, putting them in fourth place returning for the second round.
“I went back in for the handy in fourth, so I knew that if I wanted to move up, I needed to go all out and do all of the inside turns. Cheers loved that so he started jumping better than ever. He is very brave, and he loves horse showing, so I just make sure that he is warmed up well and that his four white legs are extra clean,” laughed Barker.
The nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding rose to the challenge of the handy phase and perfected the inside turns, impressing the judges with his textbook form and athleticism for a second-round score of 87 and a two-round total of 170.5.
Barker shared about her longtime partner, “Cheers is nine years old, and I have had him since he was two, so we have a pretty good partnership. He has been on a bit of a hot streak recently! He was just champion at the Royal Winter Fair in Ontario. For us Canadians that’s a key win, so he is a wonderful horse.”
The duo mastered Barton’s well-decorated tracks and set the tone for the rest of their weekend in the Amateur Owner Hunters with an impressive win in the $15,000 USHJA National Non-Pro 3’ Hunter Derby.
$15,000 USHJA National Non-Pro 3’ Hunter Derby Results:
1 Cheers, Sarah Barker, Sarah Barker | 83.5 | 87 | 170.5
2 Cristiano, Leighton Goldberg, Leighton Goldberg | 87 | 82.5 | 169.5
3 Cooper, Reagan Waggoner, Samantha Takacs | 85 | 84 | 169
4 Artano G, Finley Scheffel, Nori Scheffel | 84 | 82 | 166
5 Kartouche, Deirdre Ligget, Dierdre Ligget | 79 | 85 | 164
6 Caruso Des Flagues, Stephanie Maahs, Stephanie Maahs | 80 | 83 | 163
7 Cassiopeia, Lindsay Birnbrich, Linsday Birnbrich | 79.5 | 80 | 159.5
8 Discreet, Georgia Keogh, Georgia Keogh | 79.5 | 78 | 157.5
9 Chandler Z, Zoe Johnson, Helen Julianov | 81 | 76 | 157
10 Carlito, Emma Hoff, Hoff Sport Horses | 81 | 68 | 148