This afternoon saw twenty stunning Hunters fill the R+L Arena, all vying for top honors in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Several previous Derby winners joined the class, but it was the spectacular duo of Jennifer Nadalin and Daniela Casline’s Stellar (Quintender x Carmen) that took home the blue for their third time during the 2019 Winter Series of the Midwest.
The course for this afternoon’s $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby was designed by Tucker Williams of Ocala, Florida and featured flowing bending lines, a one stride line, four option fences set on slight angles near the corners of the ring and plentiful decor to emulate a hunt field. The course began over a natural vertical nestled between a vertical option at the top of the ring headed away from home, then led to a log vertical on the diagonal. Next, the course led up a bending Tuscan-inspired option line on the rail, then down the diagonal over the branch one stride line. Then, the course led up a vertical nestled between two oxer options that bent to a brick oxer on a diagonal across the center of the ring. To finish, the course led down the bending option line on the rail.
Near the top of the order of go was two-time WEC $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby winners Jennifer Nadalin and Daniela Casline’s Stellar (Quintender x Carmen). The pair have consistently finished in the top placings in Derbies throughout the 2019 Winter Series, even earning back-to-back wins during Week 11 and Week 12. Nadalin and Stellar were on top of their game this afternoon, galloping beautifully around the first course and taking all four high options for a score of 86.
Last week’s Derby winners Renee Lenkart and MacMillan Sport Horse’s Cayman also laid down an impressive first round. Like Nadalin and Stellar, Lenkart and Cayman have taken top placings in the WEC $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby during the Winter Series and strode into the ring confidently this afternoon after last week’s win. The pair impressed the judges with their elegant style and Cayman’s natural ability. Lenkart and Cayman jumped all four high options in the first round, earning a score of 83.
Among those scoring in the eighties in the first round were Molly McAdow and her own Cool Cash (Ci Ci Senjor Ask x Sonderwangs Queen). The pair have taken top placings in the Green Hunters throughout 2019, preparing them well for this afternoon’s Derby. McAdow and Cool Cash established a lovely rhythm and their accuracy was undeniable. The pair also took all four high options, earning a score of 82 in the first round.
The course was refreshed as the top twelve entries prepared to return for the handy round. The handy course began over the log vertical on the diagonal, now reversed to head up the ring, then rolled back to the birch oxer option on the rail. From there, the course led to a skinny brush trot fence across the center line, then rolled back to the Tuscan-inspired vertical option, now reversed to face the ingate. The course then asked for a long canter to a brick vertical option at the top of the ring, then led down the brick oxer on the diagonal. From there, the course asked entries to roll back to the Tuscan-inspired oxer option on the rail, then finish over the branch one stride line down the diagonal.
McAdow and Cool Cash returned near the bottom of the order, maintaining their rhythm from the first round and taking all possible inside turns. The pair took all four high options again, earning a score of 83 and bringing their two round total to 165, the new leading score of the class.
Lenkart and Cayman returned shortly after, also opting to take the inside turns but adding their own twist by taking an even more handy turn after the brick oxer. Their expert footwork impressed the judges and the pair were awarded a score of 89, which included their four high option fences. This brought their total score to 172, making them the new class leaders.
Last to return was Nadalin and Stellar. Knowing Stellar’s agility, Nadalin mimicked Lenkart’s handy turn after the brick oxer. The pair took all four high options with their signature style, earning a score of 87 in the handy round and bringing their two round total to 173, crowning them winners of the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby for the third time in 2019.
Nadalin of Sugar Run Farm in Plain City, Ohio stuck around for a bit after the class to chat with us about her third win aboard Stellar in the WEC $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. “The course was really wide open, which I love because it was nice, long lines,” explained Nadalin. “I really tried to gallop with Stellar in the first round, and I thought she jumped great. Across the diagonal, I remember I had planned for one more, but just saw one less. I think that helped me a little because she just stayed on the gallop and she jumped it well, and it didn’t mess me up for the turn back around the end jump.”
Nadalin also took fifth place aboard Maria Eldemire’s Quicon Windsor Z (Qui Dandy Windsor Z x Con Flora Windsor Z) and went on the explain the difference between her two rides in the handy round, “In the handy round, Stellar was really good. I tried again to just gallop a little bit. I went in on Quicon Windsor Z, who is a green horse. This was just his second Derby. With him, I wasn’t thinking about being as handy so, when I went in on Stellar, I had to get back into the handy mindset. She’s very smooth; she has a beautiful rhythm and she’s so fun to ride.”
When asked about who would receive the Groom’s Award for Stellar’s stunning turnout, Nadalin replied, “This week we had six in the Derby: my daughter Caroline rode two, Owen Gajoch rode one, Sam Pegg rode one and I rode two. So, with six in the Derby, we were in the ring every three or four horses. I’m very thankful for all of the girls that work for us and the fantastic job that they do. Katie Borden, Tanya Truszkowski, Victoria Vogel, Jackie Small and Chase Passarella made all six of those horses flow smoothly. They all work together, so they really split it.”
$2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby Results
- Stellar, Jennifer Nadalin – 86 | 87 | 173
- Cayman, Renee Lenkart – 83 | 89 | 172
- Cool Cash, Molly McAdow – 82 | 83 | 165
- Fernando VDL, Lindsay Dunlap – 82.5 | 81 | 163.5
- Quicon Windsor Z, Jennifer Nadalin – 81 | 81 | 162
- Gambur, Charlotte Clark – 79 | 82 | 161
- Improv, Melissa Donnelly – 81.5 | 75 | 156.5
- La Reve SCF, Renee Lenkart – 74 | 80 | 154
- Catango V, Sam Pegg – 81 | 72 | 153
- V Cassaro, Molly McAdow – 75 | 73 | 148
Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.