Belynda Bond and Santana Take the Blue in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby
This afternoon saw fantastic equestrian sport as sixteen stunning Hunters took to the R+L arena, all vying for the top spot in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Belynda Bond and Gesture LLC’s Santana topped the class with two awe-inspiring rounds, earning some of the top scores of the Derby and even besting second place by nine and a half points.
This afternoon’s course, designed by Bobby Murphy of Lexington, Kentucky, featured lush cedar brush filled fences, an abundance of live trees that flanked jumps and many other natural elements that a rider may encounter in a hunt field. The course began by guiding entries over a brush vertical option across the center of the ring, then continued to a brick vertical option at the top of the ring. Next, the course asked entries to take a long approach down the diagonal to a tiki-inspired oxer option, then ride up the opposite diagonal over a single brick oxer. The course then led entries down a seven stride birch line on the rail, then up the diagonal over a Tuscan-inspired two stride. To finish, the course asked riders to navigate a branch vertical on the rail, then bend to a branch oxer option heading home.
Belynda Bond and Gesture LLC’s Santana rode near the top of the order in the first round. The pair found great success in the Performance Hunter division throughout this Winter, taking top placings at the Venice Equestrian Tour in Venice, Florida and Gulf Coast Classic shows in Gulfport, Mississippi. This afternoon, Bond and the handsome chestnut gelding exuded classic Hunter skill, riding a flawless course and taking all four high options for a score of 88.
Shortly after, Madison Winebrenner and her own App For That, a sixteen year old Warmblood gelding, took to the course. The pair are regulars in the 15-17 Children’s Hunters, taking top placings throughout the Winter at WEC’s Winter Series of the Midwest and at HITS in Ocala, Florida. This afternoon, Winebrenner and App For That navigated the course with expert ability, taking all four high options for a first round score of 79.
Last in the order was David Beisel and Phyllis Harlow’s fourteen year old Westphalian gelding, Lavish (Don Bedo x Hauptstutbuch). The pair are no strangers to the USHJA National Hunter Derby, having taken several top placings in the class throughout 2018. Beisel and the stylish bay gelding were prepared to set the same standard for 2019, riding a lovely course and taking one high option for a score of 78.
The ring was refreshed as the top twelve entries prepared to return for the handy round. The course for the handy round began over the branch oxer option heading home, then asked entries to navigate the brush vertical option across the center of the ring. From there, the course led to the brick vertical option at the top of the ring, then to the tiki-inspired oxer option on the diagonal heading home. Next, the course led up the rail over a birch trot fence, then bent to the single brick oxer on the diagonal. To finish, the course guided entries around the top of the ring and through the Tuscan-inspired two stride, now reversed to head home.
First of the top contenders to return was Bond and Santana. The pair were brilliant and forward, taking each available inside turn with a clear plan for the next fence. Bond and Santana opted again to take all four high options for a score of 87, bringing their two round total to an impressive 175.
Beisel and Lavish were next to return. The pair mirrored Bond and Santana’s inside track, but took just two high options. Like Bond and Santana, Beisel and Lavish earned a score of 87, bringing their total score to 165 and moving them into second place.
Near the end of the order was Winebrenner and App For That. The pair also mimicked Bond and Santana’s track, hugging the jumps on their turns and staying incredibly handy. The pair jumped all four high options for a score of 86.5, bringing their two round total to 165.5, just a half of a point above Beisel and Lavish for a second place finish.
Bond of Crown Point Farm in Pilot Point, Texas, stuck around after the awards presentation to chat with us about her win in the class. “Santana is kind of new to doing the Derbies and he didn’t get to show [indoors] yet this week, so I was proud of him just for walking in and doing the job,” said Bond, “I think he has a future in the bigger Derbies also, so we’re excited about him.”
When asked about her plan for the handy round, Bond replied, “Well, he’s very scopey and I want him to learn how to do all of the tight turns, so I just had the plan to do as tight as I could and hope that he wouldn’t make a mistake and, if he did, he would learn from it and be better. He was great, He did it all beautifully.” When asked about Santana’s personality, Bond laughed, “He’s a little boy, he gets in trouble a lot. He’s amazing, he’s fun to be around.”
Bond also added, “We like to come here. It’s an amazing horse show. We like bringing the Jumpers here as well as the Hunters. It’s beautiful and beautifully done.”
$2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby Results
- Santana, Belynda Bond – 88 | 87 |
- App For That, Madison Winebrenner – 79 | 86.5 | 165.5
- Lavish, David Beisel – 78 | 87 | 165
- Piano Man, Katrina Fanning – 83 | 80 | 163
- Salem, Paige Beisel – 69 | 87 | 156
- Varsity, Meaggan Niesen – 87 | 69.5 | 155.5
- Zaffire, Emily Rickert – 76 | 79 | 155
- Norderney, Belynda Bond – 90 | 64 | 154
- Yours Truly, Trista Keefe – – | – | –
- Blueprint, Faith Vergerio -72 | 76 | 148
Photos courtesy of Randi Muster Photography.