This week hosts a special edition of the Sunday Spotlight, highlighting Friday’s Open and Non Pro $20,000 USHJA National Hunter Derbies. Over fifty entries filled the massive R+L Arena between the two classes to contest a stunning hunt field themed course designed by Bobby Murphy of Lexington, Kentucky. The course featured plentiful cedar brush and natural obstacles that formed forward lines and presented entries with several handy turn opportunities.
Open $20,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
The afternoon began with the Open section of the $20,000 USHJA National Hunter Derbies. Twenty three entries vied for their share of the prize money, but it was Havens Schatt and Caroline Moran’s elegant Happy Thoughts (Colman x Peggy Lee) who took top honors.
Schatt and Happy Thoughts rode near the top of the order in the first round of the Derby. The pair are frequent competitors in USHJA National Hunter Derbies, regularly taking top placings including a fifth place finish at WEC in last week’s Open $20,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Friday afternoon, the Schatt and the eight year old Warmblood gelding brought their A-game, negotiating the first course with plenty of style and earning a score of 89.
Taylor Kain was a strong competitor throughout the week in the jumper ring and took to the hunter arena Friday afternoon aboard Vanessa McCaughley’s Souvenez Vous (Cheetano x Rayana). Kain shows Souvenez Vous in the 3’3″ Green Hunters while McCaughley shows the six year old Warmblood gelding in the 3’3″ Junior Hunters. Kain piloted the eye-catching grey gelding through a lovely first round of Friday’s Open Derby, earning a score of 87.
Another stand-out entry of the first round of the Open Derby was Belynda Bond and Gesture LLC’s Norderney. The pair have proven to be fierce USHJA National Derby competitors, taking second place in the Open Derby during the first week of the WEC Fall Horse Shows and in the WEC Summer Series I show. Friday, Bond and the fourteen year old Hanoverian mare impressed the judges with their first round, earning a score of 86.
The ring was refreshed and the top twelve entries returned for the handy round of the Open $20,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Bond and Norderney returned near the end of the order, navigating a second stunning round and taking handy inside turns to fences two, four, five and eight, earning a score of 87 for an overall total of 173. Next to return was Kain and Souvenez Vous. The pair also chose the handy inside track, mimicking Bond’s neat route. Kain and Souvenez Vous earned a score of 89 for their efforts, bringing their overall total to 176. Last to return was Schatt and Happy Thoughts. The pair chose the handy inside track as well, riding a second foot perfect round for a score of 92, bringing their overall total to 181 to top the class.
Schatt took a few minutes to chat with us ringside after the awards presentation, “Happy Thoughts was perfect today. He’s a little horse and sometimes he has a napoleon complex. You can tell when you get on in the schooling area if he really wants to win or if he’s just like, ‘Okay, I’m doing it because you want me to.’ He never does anything bad, he’ll just have a rub or a swap. He’s just not into it. You could tell today that he was into it. His ears were up, he was ready to turn, ready to jump and ready to do what he needed to do.”
When asked about Happy Thoughts’ fan club, Schatt replied, “His mother showed up with all of the t-shirts and the coolers and everything, so the pressure was on a little bit. So, I’m glad he decided that today was the day to win.”
Happy thoughts is an Equine Ambassador for the Equus Foundation, meaning that all of his USHJA National Derby earnings are donated to the foundation. According to Equus Foundation, they are the only national charity in the United States 100% dedicated to ensuring the welfare of America’s horses and fostering the horse-human bond. Equus Foundation’s mission is to protect America’s horses and strengthen the bond between horses and people. Schatt described the foundation and how special it is to be a part of such a wonderful cause, “Equus Foundation is a foundation for horses that’s a lot like Ron and Danny’s Rescue for dogs. It’s not as easy to adopt out a horse as it is to adopt out a dog, so this foundation raises funds for horses in need. Caroline is a very generous sponsor to a lot of different needs and I think she feels like Happy Thoughts (Bob) is doing well in these National Derbies and that’s kind of his job, and it’s fun for her to be able to help give back that way. Bob and Lafitte De Muze, owned by Cheryl Olsten and ridden by Amanda Steege, are the only two ambassadors, so it’s kind of special to be in a category with Lafitte. Hopefully Bob will continue his winning ways for all of the horses that are in need because there are for sure a lot out there.”
Open $20,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Results
- Happy Thoughts, Havens Schatt – 89 | 92 | 181
- Souvenez Vous, Taylor Kain – 87 | 89 | 176
- Norderney, Belynda Bond – 86 | 87 | 173
- Quoted, Timothy Maddrix – 83 | 88 | 171
- Actender PS, Havens Schatt – 85.75 | 84 | 169.75
- Cascartini, Havens Schatt – 81 | 85 | 166
- Eye Cloud, Timothy Maddrix – 82 | 83.5 | 165.5
- Doc Holiday, Elizabeth Walters – 85 | 80 | 165
- Lavish, David Beisel – 82.5 | 81.5 | 164
- Shutterbug, Timothy Maddrix – 80 | 83 | 163
Non Pro $20,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
The Non Pro $20,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby saw twenty eight entries contest an identical course as the Open Derby. Competition was fierce with a handy round cut off score of 78, but it was Gabriella Lewis and H Wayne Burnett’s Lex Toccino who ultimately took the win.
Lewis and Lex Toccino took to the course near the top of the order. The pair regularly take top placings in the 3’3″ Junior Hunters, preparing them well for Friday’s course. Lewis and the ten year old Oldenburg gelding navigated the first round with expert finesse, earning a score of 87.
Next in the ring were Christopher Coberley and Fox Meadow Farm’s No Introduction. Coberbley and the eleven year old Warmblood gelding compete frequently in the 3’6″ Junior Hunters, taking top placings. Coberly piloted No Introduction through a stylish first round of the Non Pro Derby, earning a score of 86.
Chloe Stix and Miami University’s Beyond Time (Timeless x Harouche) also scored well into the eighties in the first round of the Non Pro Derby. Beyond Time has spent plenty of ring time this year with Katie Kantrovitz and Abbi Stoll showing everywhere from Florida to Missouri. Friday, Six showed off the thirteen year old Dutch Warmblood gelding’s experience earning a score of 84 in the first round.
The top twelve entries returned for the handy round of the Non Pro $20,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby with Stix and Beyond Time returning near the bottom of the order. The pair chose to take the inside turns to fences four and five, earning a score of 80 for an overall total of 164. Coberley and No Introduction returned shortly after, choosing the same inside turns and an additional inside turn to fence two. The pair earned a score of 75, bringing their overall total to 161. Lewis and Lex Toccino were last to return, choosing to take handy inside turns to fences four and five. The pair were impressive, earning a score of 81 for an overall total of 168, taking the win in the class.
We caught up with Lewis after the awards presentation, “I watched a lot of the Open riders go, so I had a really good feel for what the course would ride like. I was definitely focused on getting a nice canter to all of the jumps because the course rode nice and forward.”
When asked about Lex Toccino, Lewis replied, “Lex is my trainer Michael Burnett’s horse. I’ve been riding him for about a year now. We’ve had a lot of success together and I’ve really enjoyed riding him. He’s such a teddy bear. He loves to be in your lap and love on you.”
Lewis also commented on some of her and Lex Toccino’s previous successes, “I took him to Equifest in August and we were Champion in the 3’3″ Juniors there. He took him to WEF in February and he was first in the 3’3″ Juniors there and also Reserve Champion in the Children’s. He’s taken me to a lot of horse shows and we’ve done really well.”
Non Pro $20,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Results
- Lex Toccino, Gabriella Lewis – 87 | 81 | 168
- Beyond Time, Chloe Stix – 84 | 80 | 164
- No Introduction, Christopher Coberley – 86 | 75 | 161
- Scholar, Mattie Worsham – 80.5 | 79 | 159.5
- Rehy Wonder Boy, Grace Pruchnicki – 81 | 76 | 157
- Abudabi, Traci Ribeiro – 82.5 | 72 | 154.5
- Piano Man, Elizabeth Orosz – 80 | 74 | 154
- Scout, Mattie Worsham – 82 | 70 | 152
- Coriano VDV, Lilly French – 83 | 67 | 150
- Varsity, Meaggan Niesen – 79 | 69 | 148
Photos courtesy of Winslow Photography.