Lexington, Ky. – July 30, 2017 – After earning impressive scores of 93 in the classic round and 94 in the handy, Jeff Gogul and Cortese, a 7-year-old gelding owned by Stadium Horses LLC, won the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby sponsored by the World Equestrian Center and Kentucky Horse Shows, LLC.
In addition to Cortese’s first place finish, Gogul rode two other horses, Snowbird and Quite Ruffy, to fourth and tenth place finishes, respectively. Gogul, who recently moved to Wilmington, Ohio, rode Snowbird to the derby win during the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, as well.
Out of 29 entries in the Stonelea Ring, only the top twelve combinations from the classic round were invited back to the handy. During the first round, Gogul and Cortese scored 89 plus 4 additional points for taking all of the high options. In the handy round, Gogul took a chance by taking an inside turn by the log to the high option oxer.
Gogul explained that he was worried about risking a rub, but could count on Cortese to not spook at the obstacle. The pair scored a 90 in the handy, plus four extra bonus points for the high options, which solidified their victory and earned Gogul a pair of F. Lli Fabbri tall boots with his commemorative blue ribbon.
Daniel Bedoya, who placed fifth in the $50,000 Rood & Riddle Grand Prix on Saturday night, enjoyed competing in the Stonelea Ring aboard Carolyn Elsey’s 6-year-old gelding Gabli. Bedoya was not the only one who had to transition from the jumper ring as Gabli only began doing hunters this year.
In 2016, the gelding won the 5-year-old Young Jumper Championships, but Bedoya decided because of his laid back personality, Gabli might enjoy the hunter ring more. In today’s derby, the pair finished second, earning an 89.50 in the classic and a 91.00 in the handy after jumping all high options.
Isabel Harbour placed third with Fairfield Farms LLC’s Fitz with an 89 in both the classic and handy rounds.
Even though Sunday marked the last day of the Kentucky Summer Horse Show, hunter and show jumping competition will resume on Tuesday morning with the start of the Kentucky Summer Classic. The six-day long show will feature the fourth leg of the Hagyard Leading Rider Challenge as well as the $50,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix sponsored by GGT Footing.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
On his three horses placing in the Top 10:
“All three horses were really good today. It is only the third derby for Cortese. When he started in the 3’6″ last year his eyes were rolling during the handy because he could not figure out after months of working on going straight, why the heck we were mixing it up. Now that he understands, he’s been quite good at the handy. He has found his calling. He’s very brave – I can point him to anything and I trust him explicitly. He’s so much fun. The first one he did was with one of my junior riders at the World Equestrian Center, and then I rode him in one and he scored 100 in the handy.”
“I have a lot of experience with Snowbird, he was great today, but he made a little mistake in the bending line with the lead change. Quite Ruffy actually won the derby in Cleveland last week, and I made a mistake in the first round today and he spooked a bit away from the logs.”
On Cortese as a winning derby horse:
“His bravery is a key ingredient. He is lovely to flat and we’ve put our time in with his flat work. He’s become very elastic and rideable. He is relatively easy to move forward and bring back. If I relax and think slow down, he would come back from a gallop into a walk just on the buckle. The adjustability is there to make quick adjustments on course. Cortese is light to my leg and hand, which makes him very pleasant.”
On the Kentucky Horse Shows:
“Kentucky feels like a second home to me. Now that I am located in Wilmington, Ohio, which is less than two hours away, it’s even more convenient. How can you not enjoy the beauty of this venue? It was a stunning day and when Snowbird won in May it was a beautiful day too. We are getting spoiled with the derby weather here in Kentucky. Also a huge thank you to the Roberts family [of World Equestrian Center], not only for their sponsorship of me, but of their sponsorship of the derby series. It’s great to have such wonderful people support the sport.”
On his plan for the handy round:
“I didn’t want to risk too much because this is only his fourth derby and because there are always really good riders here and this is a class that is very competitive. I wanted to play it a little safe, that is why I went around in the last turn but I think it worked out well in the end.”
On transition between hunters and jumpers:
“I used to have a hard time. It used to be harder but honestly, it is never easy. This horse is small and quiet and my jumper is 18 hands, so the transition can be challenging, but I think with practice anything can be done.”
On showing in Kentucky:
“I love Kentucky Horse Shows, it is a great facility with even better competition. The place is beautiful and it is way better than Texas this time of year! The horses love it and the clients love it and there is nothing not to like here.”
$5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
1. Cortese / Jeff Gogul / Stadium Horses LLC / 93.00 / 94.00 / 187.00
2. Gabli / Daniel Bedoya / Carolyn Elsey / 89.50 / 91.00 / 180.50
3. Fitz / Isabel Harbour / Fairfield Farms LLC / 89.00 / 89.00 / 178.00
4. Snowbird / Jeff Gogul / Sofia Robert LLC / 89.50 / 86.00 / 175.50
5. Fondant / Blythe Karolyi / Virginia Ingram / 88.50 / 86.50 / 175.00
6. Rio’s Figaro / Taylor Kain / Daryl Ziegler Henning / 88.00 / 85.00 / 173.00
7. Sagaro / Amanda Dougherty / Mindy Hildebrand / 84.00 / 88.00 / 172.00
8. Crescendo / Diana Conlon / Meredith Frank / 87.00 / 82.00 / 169.00
9.Lavish / David Beisel / Phyllis Harlow / 83.00 / 75.00 / 158.00
10. Quite Ruffy / Jeff Gogul / Pamela Kahn / 79.50 / 78.00 / 157.50
11. Subtil / Erin Floyd / Blue Ridge Sport Horses LLC / 79.00 / 73.00 / 152.00
12. Levland / Christina Fisher / Christina Fisher / 81.00 / 64.00 / 145.00