This morning brought stunning Hunter action to the Sanctuary Arena as sixteen entries vied for the win in the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby as part of World Champion Hunter Rider week at World Equestrian Center. The beautiful Derby course featured four high options in each round, several handy options and plenty of greenery to add to the natural feel of the fences. The first round began on an oxer option on the diagonal at the top of the ring, then flowed around the end of the arena to a five-stride line on the opposite diagonal. Riders continued past the ingate and up a vertical option before bending to a single oxer at the top of the ring. Next, riders jumped a two-stride line across the diagonal, continued to a vertical headed back up the arena on a slight diagonal, then bent slightly right to an oxer option at the top of the arena. To finish, riders rode across the center of the ring, jumping one last oxer option toward the audience.
The first round saw many impressive rides, beginning with Meagan Murray-Tenuta’s round aboard Becky Price’s Last Word (Last Man Standing x Con Cita). The dappled grey Oldenburg gelding entered the arena with a lovely expression, bringing great presence throughout the entire course. The pair showed great effort over every fence, taking all four high options for first round scores of 89 and 90. Also impressive in the first round was another of Meagan Murray-Tenuta’s mounts, also owned by Becky Price, a flashy bay called Cheeky (Carrico x Roxette). The stylish Westphalian stallion flowed around the arena, taking all four high options for scores of 86 and 92.
Another impressive go in the first round was Michelle Durpetti’s Cassius ridden by Caitlyn Shiels. The Warmblood gelding’s jumping style wowed the judges, and by taking four high options, the pair earned scores of 87 and 91 in the first round. Their scores put them in second place for the first round, between Murray-Tenuta’s two mounts who held first and third.
Entries returned for the handy round, a shorter course beginning on the oxer option at the top of the ring, then continuing to the oxer option across the center of the ring. Riders then flowed to the vertical option by the ingate and bent to the vertical option at the top of the arena. Continuing around the end of the ring, riders jumped the in of the five-stride line, then rolled back to a trot jump across the center, and finished over the two-stride line.
The first of the top three contenders to return was Meagan Murray-Tenuta and Cheeky. The pair mirrored their flawless style from the first round, opting for many inside turns and all four high options for scores of 89 from each judge, plus 7 handy points from each judge. Their scores in the second round brought their overall total to 370.
Next to return of the top three contenders was Caitlyn Sheils and Cassius. The pair was astounding throughout their handy round, also taking the inside turns and all four high options at a consistent, forward pace. They received scores of 91 from each judge, plus 7 handy points from judge one and 8 handy points from judge two, bringing their total score to 375, placing them just above Murray-Tenuta and Cheeky.
Last to return was Meagan Murray-Tenuta aboard Last Word. Repeating their exquisite performance from the first round and adding bold turns and all four high options, the pair exited the ring with confidence, awaiting the final scores. For their efforts, Murray-Tenuta and Last Word were awarded a score of 93 from each judge, plus 6 handy points from judge one and seven handy points from judge two, for a total score of 378, sending them straight to first place.
We caught up with rider/trainer Meagan Murray-Tenuta of Buena Vista Farm in Lake Forest, Illinois, and owner Becky Price after the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby to chat about the class. Murray-Tenuta was thrilled with Last Word’s performance in today’s Derby, especially considering this was his very first International Derby, and just his second hunter show. “This was his second show in the United States,” Murray-Tenuta exlained, “We have had him since September, so he’s very new at this.” Both Murray-Tenuta and Price noted Last Word’s bright future in the Derbies, “He’s very brave, he had no problem walking in [the ring today] and jumping those jumps. He likes the challenge for sure,” said Murray-Tenuta. “He’s special, we’re really excited,” Price added.
Murray-Tenuta also noted her excitement for the future with third place finisher Cheeky. “This is his second year doing the Hunter Derbies,” she explained, “He’s still young and still a little green…and a little cheeky, living up to his name. But when he’s on, he’s really on. He can do it; he has all of the parts to be the winner.” Murray-Tenuta also added, on behalf of both herself and Price, “We have been working on the derbies [with both horses]; it’s kind of our thing, and we like going to Derby Finals! So we look forward to both horses this year. It feels good, we have a good string. We’re excited that the young guys are stepping up!”
$10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
- Last Word, Meagan Murray-Tenuta – 179 | 199 | 378
- Cassius, Caitlyn Shiels – 178 | 197 | 375
- Cheeky, Meagan Murray-Tenuta – 178 | 192 | 370
- Contefino 6, Melissa P. Donnelly – 161 | 189 | 350
- Zorro, Kathleen M. Caya – 171 | 177 | 348
- Private I, Jason Berry – 172.5 | 175 | 347.5
- Corallo Z, Greg J. Crolick – 161 | 185 | 346
- Scirocco, Kathleen M. Caya – 168 | 170 | 338
- Firestone II, Christopher Coberley – 165 | 163 | 328
- Cake, Keara Belle Obrzut – 153 | 174 | 327
- Full Count, Shaunnah Anderson – 161.5 | 162 | 323.5
- Quinito, Melissa P. Donnelly – 164 | 153 | 317