Wilmington, Ohio – The $15,000 USHJA National Open Hunter Derby took center stage at World Equestrian Center – Wilmington Friday evening in the R+L Arena. Nineteen polished combinations gathered over Robert Barton’s (USA) tracks to showcase their finesse. It was Kelsey Epperson (USA) that lived up to the name of her mount, Incredible (El Salvador x Budine), to claim the highest scores of the day.
Epperson of Holly, Michigan, caught the ride on Pamella Kissman’s Incredible for the prestigious class and paved the way for his bright future.
“He has done some of the non-pro derbies with his mom, Pam. She does him in the 3’3 Amateur Owners and I do him in the 3’3 Performance during the week. We wanted to rev him up a bit to see what kind of horse we have and see what we are going to do in the future. He is just nine this year. I think his future definitely has some more derbies in it now!”
With a score of 91 in the first round, the duo came back as the final pair in the handy phase and needed a near perfect round to stay on top. Epperson was confident with the horse underneath her and took chances with the inside turns.
“My main goal was to not screw it up for his mom! She is going to show him tomorrow, so I wanted to go in and have a confident ride and make it all smooth. Once we started going around and he was there with me, I just wanted to go for it. He was so good yesterday in the handy so when I came back today, I wanted to see what I had, and I wanted to have fun!”
Silence from the crowd set the tone as the nine-year-old KWPN gelding entered the arena with his pleasant expression. The duo was met with a grand applause as they scored a 94 for an overall 185 to take the win.
“WEC – Ohio has been really nice for us. We are only about four hours away. He can come and show with me during the week and his mom can come on the weekends and show. It is an easy commute so she can come between work and everything going on at home. It is nice to have it this close for all of these horses, not just the young ones,” said Epperson.
$15,000 USHJA National Open Hunter Derby Results:
1 Incredible, Kelsey Epperson, Pamella Kissman | 91 | 94 | 185
2 Kingston Blue, Richard Rinehart, Claire Rockacy | 88 | 91 | 179
3 Caruso Des Flagues, Kathleen Caya, Stephanie Maahs | 86 | 88 | 174
4 Eurythmix, Kathleen Caya, Susan Winchester | 85 | 83 | 168
5 Gabrielli, Danielle Urban, Cheryl Matranga | 79 | 86 | 165
6 TC E2, Michaella Gerlacher, True Course | 82 | 82 | 164
7 Fineas, Jessica Jurkowitz, Clover Hill Farm | 85 | 76 | 161
8 Amaretto, Leann Kelly, Turton Equine LLC | 81 | 79 | 160
9 Calisandro, Aubrey Hunt, Samantha Miller | 82 | 73 | 155
10 Bernard, Lauria Storey, Sarah Lothmann | 88.5 | 59 | 147.5
Nicole Lyvere & Lugatti Set the Tone in the $15,000 USHJA National Non-Pro Hunter Derby
Nicole Lyvere (USA) and her own Lugatti (Lux) took home the first hunter derby win of Midwest Indoors I at World Equestrian Center – Wilmington in the $15,000 USHJA National Non-Pro Hunter Derby. Robert Barton (USA) crafted the course for 31 elegant horse-and-athlete pairs, though none could best Lyvere as the first rider to go in the class.
Lyvere, of Lexington, Kentucky, trusted the plan that she walked as the first to go in the posted order, ultimately setting the high score of 88.
“I thought that the first round was very nice. There were a lot of unrelated distances. On paper, the first round was quite simple, but you had to be very disciplined. There were a lot of options to cut corners or slow down. I just went in and really went back to the basics and used my space, held him off the swap, kept him straight, and focused on maintaining a good canter,” said Lyvere.
The 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding instantly captured the judge’s eye with his presence and style, holding the highest score through the entire class to return for the handy as the last to go.
Lyvere has spoke about Lugatti’s playful personality behind-the-scenes and his breakout year in the ring.
“We call him Potato in the barn. He is really lazy! He is very smart, and I think that’s why he’s lazy because he tries to get out of work,” laughed Lyvere. “He tries to push your buttons to see how far he can get; he can be quite naughty! He is too smart for his own good, but he is so cute, so we forgive him. But when he is on, he is on. He has been super for me this year. He has been knocking at the door and he really came into his own this year and was super consistent. This was his first derby and I think it was good for him to have a bit of a challenge because it really made him think. I will probably keep doing him in these classes because I think it is good for his brain, he gets a bit bored with normal hunter courses.
As the final to contest, Lyvere piloted her talented gelding to a second-round score of 86 for a two-round total of 174 for the win.
WEC – Wilmington sponsor 2nd Round Equestrian presented a $500 bonus to Vanessa McCaughley and Capitol Hill, the second place finishers after the conclusion of the second round of the $15,000 USHJA National Non-Pro Hunter Derby.
$15,000 USHJA National Non-Pro Hunter Derby Results:
1 Lugatti, Nicole Lyvere, Nicole Lyvere | 88 | 86 | 174
2 Capitol Hill, Vanessa McCaughley, Vanessa McCaughley | 84 | 87 | 171
3 Qualtender, Jordan Wicklund, Pamela Wicklund | 86 | 84.5 | 170.5
4 Fitzgerald, Emilie Smith, Emilie Smith | 82 | 88 | 170
5 Denero, Sophia Welniak, Ssam Equine LLC | 84 | 83 | 167
6 Dianthos Xo, Jessica Ferraro, Linda Cromie | 81.5 | 84 | 165.5
7 Kylo Ren, Anna Suttman, Tessa Frisch | 82 | 79 | 161
8 Lucky Charm, Emma Breyer, Emma Breyer | 78 | 79 | 157
9 Guinness, Sofia Priller, Sophia Priller | 81.5 | 74 | 155.5
10 Dolphin Blue, Eilah Epstein, Eilah Epstein | 83.75 | 69 | 152.75
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Results can be found at wec.net.
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