Wilmington, Ohio – A beautiful spring day at World Equestrian Center – Wilmington set the scene for the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Eighteen classical hunter combinations competed over Bobby Murphy’s (USA) stunning tracks, though none impressed the judges like Samantha Cooper (USA) and Nandino.
Cooper, of Streetsboro, Ohio, and her winningest mount saw no challenge in the first-round track and demonstrated a textbook hunter round, earning a high score of 89 from the judging panel and maintaining the lead through the entirety of the class.
Returning for the handy phase as the final pair to contest, Cooper piloted Ellen Malson’s seasoned 15-year-old Brandenberg Warmblood gelding to a picture-perfect effort. The duo’s consistency and style wowed the judges for a second-round score of 91.
“I was grateful that nobody else took the inside turn that I didn’t want to do,” laughed Cooper. “I was watching and keeping an eye on that to see if I was going to have to make that really tight turn. I ended up playing it a little bit safe there because I just wanted to have a solid round. I felt like he was a bit tired this morning, but he power walked in for the handy and he always really enjoys the handy round. The course was beautiful, all the décor outside makes it so fun to show here.”
With a two-round total of 180, Cooper and Nandino added another prestigious win to their successful record.
Frequent class winner, Melissa Donnelly (USA) of Just A Folly Farm in Oxford, Michigan, piloted Corlando 49 (Cartani x Olanda I) to the red ribbon. Elizabeth Becker’s 17-year-old Holsteiner gelding navigated his way around the class with a pleasant expression and even rhythm to earn scores of 85 and 89 for an overall score of 174.
Grace Hildebrand (USA) of Mason, Ohio, rode her own Cosmo Cool (Check In x Winga) to third place. The talented young amateur rider negotiated two consistent rounds for scores of 84 and 87 with her 16-year-old Oldenburg gelding. With a two-round total of 171, the duo rounded out the podium.
$10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Results:
1 Nandino, Samantha Cooper, Ellen Malson | 89 | 91 | 180
2 Corlando 49, Melissa Donnelly, Elizabeth Becker | 85 | 89 | 174
3 Cosmo Cool, Grace Hildebrand, Grace Hildebrand | 84 | 87 | 171
4 Happy Boy, Richard Rinehart, Sara Omohundro | 86 | 83 | 169
5 Bourbon Street, Tess Von Hemel, Miami University | 82 | 84 | 166
6 Cinda, Elizabeth Becker, Elizabeth Becker | 75 | 86 | 161
7 Juan Colorado, Melissa Donnelly, Addison Mae King | 82 | 76 | 158
8 Rocky Rules, Maelyn Taule, Maelyn Taule | 76 | 73 | 149
9 Chandler Z, Zoe Johnson, Zoe Johnson | 76 | 71 | 147
10 Bernard, Sarah Lothmann, Laurie Storey | 77 | 68 | 145
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Results can be found at wec.net.
All horse show images are provided by Winslow Photography and can be purchased onsite at WEC – Wilmington or online through their website.