Sunday Spotlight: Summer Hill & Vendome DH Z Earn the Top Spot in the Open $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Stunning hunters packed the R+L Arena this morning for the Open and Non Pro $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derbies. Both classes contested identical courses designed by Joseph Carnicom that featured four high options, flowing bending lines, multiple changes of direction and several opportunities for handy turns.
Open $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby
The Open $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby riders were the first to contest Carnicom’s course. Competition between the top three entries was stiff, but it was Summer Hill of Fairbanks Riding that earned the top spot with two incredible rounds aboard Andrea Simpson’s Vendome DH Z (Va-Vite x Veronique). For the win, Hill and Vendome DH Z received their lion’s share of the prize money as well as a World Equestrian Center wool cooler. The grey gelding’s groom received the Groom’s Award of $100 cash and a $50 World Equestrian Center gift card this morning for his beautiful turnout.
Hill and the twelve year old Zangersheide gelding have a fantastic record together in the Jumper ring, winning multiple Grand Prix. Vendome DH Z has since switched gears finding success with Hill in the hunter ring, particularly in the derbies. Over the Summer, the pair took first place in a $5,000 National Hunter Derby at World Equestrian Center as well as a $10,000 International USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Jump for the Children Benefit I show in Raleigh, North Carolina. Hill and the handsome grey gelding were prepared to win again this morning, taking all four high options in each round and taking inside turns to fence two, three and nine. The pair earned scores of 85 and 94 for a total derby score of 179, comfortably securing first place.
Hillary Johnson also found success in this morning’s Open $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby taking second and third place aboard Copper Fox LLC’s Lonesome Dove (Carambole x Dalida) and Copper Fox LLC’s Elliot, respectively. Johnson regularly shows both Lonesome Dove and Elliot in the Green Hunters. Johnson and second place finisher Lonesome Dove earned scores of 83 and 81 for a total score of 164 while she and third place finisher Elliot earned scores of 69 and 84 for a total score of 153.
Hill took a moment to chat with us ringside about her win after the awards presentation, “Vendome DH Z and I have kind of started really getting the hang of this Derby thing. He’s pretty new to it. He’s really confident in the ring. He doesn’t look at anything and he knows his job. I just get on and go, he’s pretty dependable out there.”
When asked what other wins the pair had over the Summer, Hill replied, “We won the $10,000 International Derby in Raleigh two weeks ago and he was great.”
Hill also commented on her plans this year for Vendome DH Z, “We’re looking forward to a good season. I’m planning to take him to Derby Finals this year. I think he’ll be pretty competitive. So my goal is to just get him qualified and get him there.”
Open $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby Results
- Vendome DH Z, Summer Hill – 85 | 94 | 179
- Elliot, Hillary Johnson – 83 | 81 | 164
- Lonesome Dove, Hillary Johnson – 69 | 84 | 153
- Shining Hour, Michaella Gerlacher – 77 | 75 | 152
- Monte Carlo, Erin Ferguson-Hughes – 68.5 | 73 | 141.5
- Rico, Carly Tabaczka – 70 | 71 | 141
- Rodak, Dana Kurrle – 69.5 | 70 | 139.5
- Cosmo Cool, Benjamin Rosichan – 73 | 64 | 137
- Krug Z, Patricia Stovel – 57 | 76 | 133
- Coeur De Semilly, Sophia Keoleian – 75 | 44 | 119
Non Pro $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Much like the Open Derby, the Non Pro $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby saw first place pull significantly ahead while one rider held onto second and third place. Scores were a bit tighter in the Non Pro Derby, but it was Vanessa Mazzoli and her own Oh Brother who claimed top honors. The pair also received their lion’s share of the prize money as well as a World Equestrian Center wool cooler.
Mazzoli and the twelve year old Warmblood gelding have a great rapport, regularly taking top placings in the Amateur Owner Hunters. This morning, the pair were flawless in both rounds. In the first round, Mazzolli opted to catch all four high options. When the pair returned for the handy round, Mazzoli piloted Oh Brother over just one high option, choosing to impress the judges with handy inside turns to fences two, three and nine. Their plan payed off and the pair were awarded a first round score of 83 combined with a second round score of 86, totaling 169 for the win in the class.
Owen Gajoch also had a successful morning, taking second and third place with his own Black Label B (Concorde B x Enchantment B) and Samantha Gajoch’s Westeros (Black Tie x Daconda M), respectively. Gajoch trains with Jen Nadalin and Chris Eadline of Sugar Run Farm in Dublin, Ohio. Gajoch opted to take all four high options in both rounds with both horses, earning scores of 79 and 84 for a total of 163 aboard Black Label B and scores of 75 and 85 for a total of 160 aboard Westeros.
Mazzoli stuck around after the awards ceremony to chat with us about her win, “I thought the first round was nice. I did all four high options and he was really good. In the handy round, I wanted to be smooth coming in on top, so I only did one high option. I felt like the handy turns were easier if I did the smaller options. I thought everything worked out really nicely, particularly in the handy round.”
When asked about Oh Brother’s personality, Mazzoli replied, “He’s so silly. He loves donuts, so I told him if he won the class, we would give him donuts. He likes the glazed ones. He’s a really good boy. He knows his job really well. I’ve had him for almost two years so we know each other really well.”
Mazzoli also added “I’m originally from Rockford, Michigan, but I moved to Lexington, Kentucky last year. We have our own barn there,” as well as, “I’d love to thank my mom and my brother. They’re always there supporting me.”
Non Pro $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby Results
- Oh Brother, Vanessa Mazzoli – 83 | 86 | 169
- Black Label B, Owen Gajoch – 79 | 84 | 163
- Westeros, Owen Gajoch – 75 | 85 | 160
- Doc Holiday, Madison Frankhauser – 76 | 83.5 | 159.5
- Cassinir, Maggie Jacobs – 77 | 76 | 153
- Marengo, Liana Brown – 78 | 71 | 149
- Elliance, Shea McCoy – 82 | 66 | 148
- Oti, Isabella Fabrizi – 68 | 78 | 146
- Coveted, Melodie Robitaille – 70 | 75 | 145
- Five Star, Logan Taylor – 69 | 74 | 143
Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.