Wilmington, Ohio – The R+L Arena at World Equestrian Center – Wilmington played host to a notable field of hunter riders for the $15,000 USHJA National Open 3’ Hunter Derby Friday evening. Twenty-three combinations tried their hand at Joseph Carnicom’s (USA) track, designed to allow riders to showcase their horse’s style and scope. Melissa Donnelly (USA) played to her horse’s strengths, strategically piloting Corlando 49 (Cartani x Olanda I) to the win and the highest handy score of the day.
Donnelly, of Just A Folly Farm in Oxford, Michigan, has been a frequent visitor to the winner’s circle in the prestigious class. Of her many hunter mounts, Corlando 49 continuously proves his quality, outshining even the toughest field of derby competitors.
“Cory is mister personality! He certainly had his game face on today. He does the 3’6” Performance Hunters with me, and when his owner, Elizabeth Becker, is home from school she does the Amateur-Owner Hunters. I am blessed that while she is away at school, they still allow me to keep him going. The derbies are his absolute favorite class, and the handy round is his true favorite. I feel like I have a happy horse and he was really on with his game face today,” Donnelly shared on the Corlando 49.
Returning for the handy sitting in second place with a first-round score of 90.5, the duo needed to make every extra handy effort to ride to the top of the leaderboard. Making two inside turns untried by the rest of the field, the 17-year-old Holsteiner gelding wowed the judges to earn a 96, the highest score of the day.
Donnelly spoke on her handy round, “I wanted to be brilliant. As long as I felt like he was attentive, I wanted to try to out turn them all. That is where he really shines. I felt like he was focused enough today that all of those turns were there and that he would follow me right back around. The turn after the end jump is one his favorites, and he turns on the backside really smoothly.”
With an impressive overall score of 186.5, Donnelly and Corlando 49 galloped away with the blue ribbon.
$15,000 USHJA National Open 3’ Hunter Derby Results:
1 Corlando 49, Melissa Donnelly, Elizabeth Becker | 90.5 | 96 | 186.5
2 Copa Du Cache, Kathleen Caya, Colleen Nagy White | 92 | 92 | 184
3 Duvel, Peg Seals, Kelsea Hall | 90 | 89 | 179
4 Caurso Des Flagues, Kathleen Caya, Stephanie Maahs | 90 | 88.5 | 178.5
5 Credible De Bornival Z, Kathleen Caya, Colleen Nagy White | 83 | 88 | 171
6 Mardi Gras, Sam Pegg, Margaret Hackstedde | 87 | 83.5 | 170.5
7 Eurythmix, Kathleen Caya, Susan Winchester | 84 | 85 | 169
8 Finnegan, Shannon Meehan, Allison Desantis | 89 | 79 | 168
9 Fineas, Jessica Jurkowitz, Clover Hill Farm | 84 | 80.5 | 164.5
10 After Hours, Liz Hutchison, Robin Owens | 81 | 83 | 164
Lily Rupinski & Bella Noche Lead the Way in the $15,000 USHJA National Non-Pro 3’ Hunter Derby
Twenty-one horse-and-athlete combinations came together in the R+L Arena early Friday afternoon to kick off hunter derby day with the $15,000 USHJA National Non-Pro 3’ Hunter Derby. Of the stylish group that jumped their best efforts over Carnicom’s tracks, Lily Rupinski (USA) and Bella Noche (Carrico x Quinta Real) ultimately lead the way.
Rupinski of Saint Louis, Missouri, piloted River Run LLC’s Bella Noche to the only score of 90 in the first classic round. The duo took the lead in the class and returned for the handy as the last to contest for the win.
“We imported Luna [Bella Noche] in the spring of 2021. It has definitely been a long journey; she was really green when we bought her. We have certainly come a long and she is such a good girl,” commented Rupinski on her mare. “We talk a lot about getting my pace from the beginning because I tend to start out slow. I just try to keep my focus and plan my turns. I make the handy turns but not too tight because she came from the jumper world, and she gets excited. I mainly work on staying as straight and consistent as I can.”
The young, talented amateur rider made each handy effort available to her aboard the eight-year-old Westphalian mare and impressed the judges with their consistency for a score of 89.5 for a two-round total of 179.5 to take the win.
Rupinski’s longtime trainer, Katana Kennedy O’Brien, spoke on the young rider’s success, “Lily is in college at Elon University and only gets to meet us at the shows. She flew in late last night after not riding for a month. She has ridden with me since she started in short stirrup. She rode great in this class today. I am always proud of her and she always goes in and lays it down. It is hard to go to school, get good grades and have your passion and do everything all at once. She handles it all so well and I am so proud of her.”
$15,000 USHJA National Non-Pro 3’ Hunter Derby:
1 Bella Noche, Lily Rupinski, River Run Farm LLC | 90 | 89.5 | 179.5
2 Red Roc, Kiera Phlipot, Kiera Phlipot | 88 | 90 | 178
3 Harbour Town, Morgan Munz, Morgan Munz | 84 | 88 | 172
4 A Million Reasons ES, Reagan Gehm, Rgg Equestrian LLC | 84 | 82 | 166
5 Pop Culture K, Madison Purcell, Madison Purcell | 80.5 | 85 | 165.5
6 Conrad, Katelyn Jasky, Leah Jasky | 76 | 88 | 164
7 A Million Dreams, Reagan Gehm, Rgg Equestrian LLC | 82 | 81 | 163
8 Silver Creek’s Whimsy, Maggie Booth, Maggie Booth | 75 | 87 | 162
9 Flash, Ava Pisa, Ava Pisa | 75 | 76 | 151
10 Incredible, Pamella Kissman, Pamella Kissman | 78 | 62 | 140
Make sure to visit the WEC Blog and follow us on social media @worldequestriancenter for full coverage on all feature classes!
Results can be found at HorseShowing.com.
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