Holly Shepherd Claims $5K National Hunter Derby at Equifest I for Second Year In a Row

Set against the picturesque greenery of the Lamplight Equestrian Center, the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby began first thing on Friday morning. Twenty-six competitors entered the Main Hunter Arena dressed in shadbelly coats and stock ties to try their hand at the series of obstacles reminiscent of a hunt field. For the second year in a row, it was Holly Shepherd who led the victory gallop, this time aboard Cheryl Rubenstien LLC’s Capisce.

Holly Shepherd and Capisce. Photo by Phelps Sports

The USHJA National Derby Program was launched in 2010 to provide an opportunity for up-and-coming riders to gain experience in derby competition. Two judges score horse-and-rider combinations for their rounds over the hunt country simulated course, looking for performances that demonstrate a consistent hunter pace, impressive jumping style, quality movement. Set at 3’ with 3’5’’ options, riders first navigate their horses through a classic hunter round. The 12 highest-scoring horses return for a second round in the form of a handy hunter round. In both rounds one and two, riders are awarded an extra point for each high-option fence jumped, adding up to four points to their base score given by judges.

Shepherd and Capisce, who were champion in the Performance 3’6’’ Hunter division the day before, set the tone early on. As the second combination to enter the arena, Capisce earned a first round score of 91, a score that proved unbeatable throughout the remainder of the class. In the second round, the 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding showcased its handiness, moving through tight turns with ease and jumping all four high options with style. Judges awarded the pair a second round score of 88, totaling to 179 to keep them on top.

Holly Shepherd and Capisce. Photo by Phelps Sports

In the runner-up position was Jennifer Alfano and her 6-year-old Holsteiner mare Page One. Page One was purchased by Alfano in May and is currently competing in the Green 3’6” Hunter division. In the National Derby, Page One received a first round score of 86, taking all four high-options. The mare only improved upon her return for round two, earning a score of 89 from the panel of judges. Her total score of 175 placed her in second place for the highlight event.

Shepherd also rode Ashely Runnel’s As You Wish in the National Derby, earning the yellow ribbon with a first round score of 87 and second round score of 86 for a combined 173. As You Wish is a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding that Shepherd also piloted to many wins last month at the Tryon Equestrian Center.


$5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby results:

Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score / Total Score

1. Capisce / Holly Shepherd / 91 / 88 / 179
2. Page One / Jennifer Alfano / 86 / 89 / 175
3. As You Wish / Holly Shepherd / 87 / 86 / 173
4. Windchill / Amelia Mc Ardle / 81 / 89 / 170
5. Jerez Mail / Holly Shepherd / 86.5 / 83 / 169.5
6. Colorado 222 / Giselle Grench / 82 / 86 / 168
7. Roc Hunter 18 / Molly Mcadow / 76 / 82 / 158
8. V. Cassaro / Molly Mcadow / 79.5 / 78 / 157.5
9. Manhattan / Grant Pennington / 78 / 76 / 154
10. HG Sibelious / Maegan Fitzgerald / 74 / 66 / 140
11. Zorro / Kathleen Caya / 80 / 54 / 134
12. Fidelio / Sana Abbas Anderson / 77 / 0 / 77