June 16, 2015--Kelley Farmer has shown in Showplace Production's $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby seven times. She has won five times and finished second in two. Last year Farmer rode to the 1-2 finish, and today she returned to the "windy city" to have a repeat performance. She captured the win with Mindful, owned by David Glefke of Keswick, VA, riding to the top score of 411 points, and earned the second place on barn mate Dalliance, owned by Avatar Real Estate LLC, with a total of 397 points.
The Showplace Spring Spectacular III kicked off its World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Week at the Lamplight Equestrian Center with Show Manager Patrick Boyle living up to his reputation of doing it right, with a day dedicated to the hunter derbies. Boyle pays attention to the details, making each derby special with top-notch presentations, awards, courses and unparalleled hospitality. Prior to the start of the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, exhibitors were able to enjoy the Exhibitors Derby Luncheon, sponsored by Gene & Georgetti Steakhouse, one of Chicago's oldest and finest steakhouses. Guests were treated to roasted vegetables, grilled chicken breast, sausage and peppers, as well as the popular filet sliders.
"I love it here," Farmer smiled. "Pat [Boyle] puts on such a nice show, and this is hometown for me. Skip [Bailey] does a beautiful job, Pat [Duncan] and the whole crew do a great job-It is a really well done event. Since this is on one day, a Derby Day if you will, we consider it a standalone. Nice shows put on nice classes, and this is a derby we don't miss."
Farmer had a repeat performance today, capturing both the first and second place finishes out of a field of 32 horse and rider combinations, reminiscent of their 2014-finish. Mindful, owned by David Glefke of Keswick, VA, earned the win in the first round, taking all high options and earning base scores of 96 and 92 for a score of 196. In the handy, Farmer showed of Mindful's finesse with her handy turns, as well as her signature hand gallop to the last oxer, landing her a second round score of 215, making the total 411 points for the win.
"What can I say about Mindful? I couldn't say enough about him," Farmer laughed. "This is his tenth derby win in a year, and he was just Grand Hunter Champion at Devon. He is a unique horse. No matter how well you ride, or how well you train or what you try to pull off in the ring, Mindful wants the blue ribbon."
Another Farmer mount, Dalliance, owned by Avatar Real Estate LLC, also took strides to set the bar high with the second highest first round score of 192. During the handy, they earned an additional 8 handy points to add their second round total of 205 to the first round score for a cumulative score of 397 points.
Farmer and Dalliance were the first pair of the order to lay down a classic score of 90 points or more, riding to scores of 94 and 90, plus the high options, to sound the bell for the Score-90, which allowed supporters of the USHJA Foundation to pledge money for each time a score of 90 of higher was posted. The USHJA International Hunter Derby saw eight Score-90 rounds, which helped Showplace Productions raise nearly $15,000 for the USHJA Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)3 supporting organization of the United States Hunter Jumper Association. Showplace Productions Spring Spectacular III was the first show of the year to host the Score-90, setting a high standard for the remaining competitions.
Farmer's trainer and partner Larry Glefke said, "I love Dalliance. We have had him about two months. He just won the $35,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby in New York, and beat all the boys. He fits in with the Jersey Boys, Mindfuls, and the other greats of this sport. He is one of my favorite horses that I have had in a long time. He is a tremendous jumper, and truly a great horse."
Farmer added, "Dalliance has not had as big of a chance to prove himself yet, but he wants the blue just as badly as Mindful. They are both fantastic animals, and Mindful has won on the biggest stages. Neither one of them will let you down."
"Both of these horses walk into the ring trying to play the same game we are all playing," Glefke stated. "We spend days and hours and weeks trying to teach these horses to do something to play the game, but they know. They are professionals, tried and true."
The Archer Bailey-designed course had a unique optional one or two-stride obstacle comprised of hay bales in a V-shape, a snake obstacle with hedges, several bold oxers and plenty of room to gallop. During the handy round, riders had the choice to jump the opening obstacle in any direction, as long as they did not cross their path or jump any jump twice, before moving onto the third fence of the handy track. This is where many of the riders saw additional handy points tabulated with their base scores.
"Skip [Bailey] always adds something unique to his courses, whether it is a horse shoe formation or the hay bales today," Farmed said. "I think it is great. These are the types of obstacles that derby horses should be jumping. These are the obstacles we need to practice over; this is what we are going to see at Derby Finals. I have seven qualified, and I plan on bringing them all. I don't do well with idle time."
Tammy Provost and Kallisto, owned by Kim Calamos of Batavia, IL, laid down the second highest-placing handy round with a score of 211 points, which would boost them from their original seventh place position into the third place overall. Fourth place was awarded to Maria Rasmussen and Quite Chocolate, owned by Over Fences Farm LLC of Long Grove, IL, for the overall score of 358 points. Farmer also snatched up the fifth place aboard Taken, owned by Jessica Stitt of Elburn, IL, while Will Roberts and State Hill, owned by Joan Violin, rounded out the top six.
There is a reason why Glefke and Farmer return to the Showplace Productions shows year after year-It is special.
"Skip and Pat build beautifully, they do it right," Farmer said. "It is nice to come back and make sure we succeed, especially so close to home. I have to say, knock on wood, I have had very good luck with this class. It is a special class for us, too, because of the people we know, the excitement in the crowd and the friends we have rooting us on ringside-this is an old hometown."
"I have been going to Pat's shows for 20 years now, and they never disappoint me," Glefke added.
$10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, Sponsored by Old Barrington Farms
Caitlyn Shiels and King of Hearts win $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Old Barrington Farm.
There was cause for celebration if you heard The Fratellis' song, "Chelsea Dagger," when exiting the Grand Prix Ring during today's $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Old Barrington Farm, at the Showplace Spring Spectacular III. The Chicago anthem, also played after each goal scored by the beloved Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks, signified that a horse and rider pair had earned a score of 90 or above from the judge, which was fate for only an elite number of exhibitors today. With a staggering 54 competitors in the morning's derby, the horses and riders needed to take bold moves and play to some risky strategies in order to outshine the other exhibitors, all of which were hoping to lead the victory gallop.
After the first phase of competition, 12 pairs had navigated the natural track well enough to garner a return invitation for the handy round. Headed into the second portion of the class, Grace Egan aboard Carole Looke's Rock On had the lead with an impressive and daunting score of 98, followed closely by Natalie Alden's King of Hearts with Caitlyn Shiels in the irons with a score of 96.
The top six was compiled of all 90-plus scorers. Claiming third position with a 92.5 was Sorrento, owned by Copper Fox, LLC and ridden by Hillary Johnson, and only a half-point behind was Kelsey Cerkleski and her own Sent from Heaven. Tiffany Hammack and Cassie Berke's Claudius sat in the fifth spot, while Everafter, both ridden and owned by Beth Harrison Meyer, rounded out the top half of the second-round returners.
The initial course, designed by Bailey, consisted of 11 efforts, with four obstacles presenting a high option to the exhibitors, allowing for up to four additional points to be tacked on to the judge's card. Riders were faced with a number of creative obstacles, including a line of hay bales formed into what was reminiscent of a chute, as well as a zigzagged wooden snake jump among other hunt-type obstacles.
"I thought it was a nice flowing course; it was a good challenge for these young horses that are just starting their derby careers, but it also called for veterans to show off well," competitor Caitlyn Shiels complimented.
The handy round brought with it a series of questions for the contenders still standing. Among them, whether or not riders would take advantage of inside turns and high options, of which there were still four. The 12th place rider, Amelia McArdle and Carly Martin's Czech Mate, were the first to go in the second round, followed consecutively by riders in reverse order of current standings. Many rode the course in a similar fashion taking the same turns and options, but a few took a chance to stand out, and it paid off.
Incredibly improving upon their first score of 96, Shiels and King of Hearts one-upped themselves with a score of 97 in the handy round for a total of 193 to claim first prize, beating out the next best competitor by six points.
"I decided to do the one-stride between the hay bales instead of the two strides that a lot of my competitors opted for, which ultimately set us up well for the hand gallop to the last jump," the prizewinner claimed as one of the moves that ultimately put her atop the leader board.
King of Hearts, "King" for short, was purchased by Natalie Alden only a few short months ago at the conclusion of the Florida show circuit, and is now shown by his owner in the Children's Hunters. A former jumper, the bay gelding transitioned to the hunter ring this year and his easy way of going and large step has certainly caught the attention of the judges.
"This is his first big derby, and we couldn't be happier with how he has performed," rider Shiels praised. She continued, saying that "he is a lovely horse with a great rhythm and adjustability, and it seems like every class he learns a little bit more."
Look for the pair in August at the Pre-Green Incentive Finals in Kentucky, where they will battle it out with other qualifiers in the hopes of taking the top prize. According to Shiels, today's National Derby was a great test for her mount, and he has proved that he is definitely more than capable of performing well at the end of the summer.
"I try not to have expectations, I just try to ride my best," Shiels commented. Today, their best was good enough.
Place-jumping from fifth to second, reserve champion honors went to Hammack and Claudius with a total score of 187. Initially in first, Egan and Rock On fell to third, also with a score of 187, but coming up short in the tie-breaker with Hammack. Sorrento and rider Johnson claimed fourth after a second round score of 91 for a cumulative of 183.5, and Douglas Boyd with the ride aboard Amanda Hauser's horse Calido's Son climber three places from eighth to grasp the fifth position with a total of 181. Cerkleski and Sent From Heaven finished out the class leaders in sixth.
The $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby was sponsored by Old Barrington Farm, a local leader in equestrian boarding and training. Handing out the awards to riders this afternoon was trainer Amelia McArdle, who coincidentally had two mounts in the class, finishing high in positions 11th and 12th, and mother Joyce McArdle.
"We are so happy to sponsor the Derby. It is such a fun event with a mixture of amateurs and professionals, as well as young horses and more experienced horses. It was a great course at a beautiful venue, and Pat Boyle always puts on a wonderful show with Showplace," the pair mimed.
$2,500 Pony Hunter Derby, Sponsored by Littlewood Farm and The Hoch Family
The Wisconsin Equine Arena saw a new set of competitors Tuesday morning as 30 young riders, donned with jodhpur garter straps and bows, tacked up for the $2,500 Showplace Pony Hunter Derby, sponsored by Littlewood Farm and The Hoch Family. Today, it would be 12-year-old, Natalie Jayne of Our Day Farm who would lead the victory gallop with Cleverist, owned by Daisy Farish of Versailles, Kentucky.
Jayne rode the small bay to the first place award with the first round high score of 85 points, finishing out the competition with a score of 74 during the second round for a total of 159.
"I was a little bit nervous after posting the high-score in the first round," Jayne said. "I felt some pressure coming back in the lead, but I knew that he would be good."
Jayne, of Elgin, IL, has shown Cleverist for Farish since November of last year, rising in the ranks with the pony to capture the Reserve Circuit Championship at the 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. The young talent was thrilled to win the $2,500 Showplace Pony Hunter Derby rosette, especially since she was only a hair away from the victory in 2014 with Blueberry Hill.
"Cleverist is so smooth, and I know he will always jump," Jayne said of her winning mount. "He is a sweet pony, I really like him."
Jayne has her sights set on several summer shows in the Mid-West, including Chagrin Valley Hunter Jumper Classic in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival in Traverse City, Michigan. If Cleverist does not sell prior to the USEF Pony Finals in Lexington, Kentucky, Jayne will be seen chasing the coveted Grand Championship title.
Nebraska-native Elizabeth Woods and her own Hidden Springs Woodstar rode to the second place finish with a cumulative score of 156, while Genevieve Johns captured the third place aboard Sedona, owned by The Johns Sisters LLC, with a scores of 81 and 71 for a total of 152 points.
$2,500 Chicago Equestrian 2'6" Children's/Adult Hunter Derby, Sponsored by Wisconsin Equine
Maria Kogen and True North win the $2,500 Chicago Equestrian 2'6" Children's/Adult Hunter Derby, sponsored by Wisconsin Equine.
A field of 34 horses and riders faced off in the Wisconsin Equine Ring with the goal of leaving the arena as champion in the $2,500 Chicago Equestrian Children's/Adult Hunter Derby, sponsored by Wisconsin Equine. Although there were lots of veteran riders in the hunt, it ultimately proved to be a successful day for first-time derby entrants, Maria Kogen and her own horse True North, navigating their way to a win in their first ever derby effort.
Entering the handy round in sixth position with a first round score of 78, Kogen knew that if she didn't make a move to set her apart from the rest of the pack that she wouldn't move up the rankings.
"I think it was the inside turn to fence three that helped us to stand out," she reflected. "Not many of the other competitors took that turn, and my horse really helped me to do it well. I knew we had to be slick to earn some points." Her bold move paid off, producing a score of 84 from the judge to push her up the ranks and into first place with a total score of 162. Five more entries tried to eclipse their top score, but none prevailed.
Kogen and True North, a bay Belgian Warmblood gelding, train with Scott Gentry out of HBG Equine. The pair were crowned as Marshall & Sterling champions last year at the finals, and are hoping to qualify for some sort of final throughout this summer's show season.
Surrounded by her two daughters, the winner said that she was "very nervous," headed into the competition, but praised her horse and his efforts. "He is perfect, but now he is tired. He is definitely going to get a good rest," Kogen laughed. The two plan to stick around for the third week of competition at the Lamplight Equestrian Center.
Caroline Foster navigated her mount Asiago, owned by Miki Debb, to the reserve spot, only two points behind Kogen. Third in the victory gallop with a score of 158.5 was Chemin de Prix, ridden and owned by Julianna Hartwick.
Across the path in the Grand Prix Ring, Jesus Guerra was busy winning the $1,500 Groom's Class, a very special class intended to honor the men and women behind the scenes that prepare and care for all the excellent horses each and every day. Guerra and his charge, Eclipse, were awarded the win in the class as the best turned-out. Telluride Farm and Diane Carney sponsored the class, in addition to the Derby Day Breakfast under the lofty white tents beside the ring, which they shared sponsorship with Palladia Farm and Margaret Clayton.
The third and final week of the Showplace Spring Spectacular Series will kick off tomorrow with a full schedule of hunter and jumper events.
For more information on the Showplace Spring Spectacular Series, please visit: www.showplaceproductions.com.