Ocala, FL – February 12, 2017 – The first of two $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derbies at HITS Post Time Farm commenced on Saturday during Week IV of the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit. As the sun set, and the lights in Ocala Horse Properties Stadium came to life, the crowd watched in anticipation to witness who could master the course with finesse and the highest caliber of precision.
Preluding the FEI Nation’s Cup Jumping CSIO4* week at HITS Ocala, a big hunter week unfolded and the stage was set—Tim Hott of Cumming, Iowa, designed a beautiful course of 13 fences for the 47 who gathered from the East Coast and beyond to contest the two-round derby.
The winner would be Patricia Griffith of New York, New York, riding Clearline Z. Griffith would also capture the fifth-place prize riding Charisma, owned by Heritage Farm, Inc. Griffith additionally stole away with the win in the 2016 $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final at the HITS Championship last September.
Hunter Holloway of Topeka, Kansas, would also walk away with two ribbons in the top five placings, second and fourth. The second-place prize would come aboard Any Given Sunday, owned by Hays Investment Corp. Fourth place was earned piloting The Governor, also owned by Hays Investment Corp.
Two panels of judges including Scott Fitton, Streett Moore, Kathleen Rice and Sissy Wickes critiqued each rider’s craft.
Unique to the Derby format, in addition to the base score, each judging panel awarded an Option Bonus Score consisting of one additional point for every higher height option fence jumped. As 12 returned for the second round, judges awarded a base score, Option Bonus Score and a Handy Bonus Score, assessing the handiness of the round.
Kristy Herrera and Miss Lucy, owned by Helen Lenahan, finished the first round on top with a score of 185.5, but a talented list of contenders ready to rally for blue still filled the second-round Order. They would ultimately settle for sixth place with a second round score of 169 for an overall total of 354.5.
Patricia Griffith entered second in the order with fifth-place ride, Charisma. Opting for all four height options and getting a handy bonus score of 15, they received the highest total of the second round to boost them up in the standings with a 190.5. Their first round score, 165, added to the mix gave them an overall total of 355.5.
Sixth in the order to return, Holloway and Any Given Sunday were meticulous in their pursuit of a win, coming back seventh after the first round, they opted for three height options and received a combined total of 13 Handy Bonus Points. It was quite the comeback, but not enough to garner the lead. A first-round score of 171.5 combined with a second-round score of 197 totaled 368.5 would give them the red ribbon.
Two trips later, Holloway would return with her second mount, The Governor. They earned a second-round score of 186.5, which combined with their first-round score of 173.5, gave them a total of 360 for the eventual fourth-place.
Griffith and Clearline Z entered the second round ninth in the order and in the current fourth place. They opted for all four height options and received 15 handy bonus points, giving them a high second-round total of 203. Combined with their first round total of 177, they topped the field for the eventual win with an overall total of 380.
Westminster, Maryland equestrian Samantha Schaefer was the final contestant of the eventual top five to return to the second round. She piloted In The Know, owned by Madeline Schaefer, to the second highest score of a 188.5, added to their first round total of 179 that gave them a 367.5 for the ultimate third-place prize.
The $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby will make several more visits to HITS this year including once more at the Ocala Winter Circuit during Week X, Coachella Desert Circuit in Week VIII, two at HITS Saugerties (Week IV & VI) and HITS Chicago (Week III & II). The extra opportunity for a prestigious hunter victory and top-level prize money has hunters in high pursuit of a Derby victory.