World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) concluded on Sunday with the $7,500 Camping World and Gander Outdoors USHJA National Hunter Derby kicking off competition for the day in the Grand Prix Ring.
Two-time defending champion of the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at GLEF in 2017 and 2016, Courtney Lenkart of South Haven Farm based in Bartonville, Texas, maintained her lead from the first round to claim the win aboard new mount Alisto, owned by Lori Mathews.
Besting a total field of 62 horses and riders and taking advantage of the high options around the Nick Granat-designed course, Lenkart and the 9-year-old Warmblood gelding secured the high score of 92 in the first round and returned for the handy round to earn a 90 from the panel of judges for a total top score of 182. Following his win, Alisto was also presented with the Week II Platinum Performance Hunter Horse of the Week award.
“He’s a new one for Lori and for our barn,” said Lenkart of Alisto. “We imported him in mid-May so he’s only been here for two months and every week he gets better. He’s very flashy looking. He’s a chestnut with white legs and a white face, and he just goes across the ground so pretty. He’s smooth everywhere. This height is really easy for him. He’s still a Pre-Green horse right now but he just steps over the jumps. It was a beautiful course. He really gave great efforts today.”
Coming in second place was Jacob Pope, who won Week I’s $5,000 Ingram Family USHJA National Hunter Derby, and Lady Grey, owned by Lionsway Farm. The pair sat in fifth place heading into the handy round on a score of 88 and impressed the judges to move up in the standings, winning the handy round with a score of 91 to finish on a total score of 179.
Jordan Allen and Kim Carey’s Turn Key rounded out the top three with scores of 91 and 87.5 between both rounds for a final score of 178.5.
In addition to weekly national derby competitions every Sunday, the 2018 GLEF will also feature the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Copper Fox LLC, during Week IV on Saturday, July 28, at 4 p.m.