Caitlyn Shiels and Cassius Claim $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
The Polk Family Main Hunter Ring highlighted the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby on Sunday, which saw 28 combinations compete in the classic round over the Keith Bollotte-designed course.
The top 12 returned to try to impress the panel of judges once more in the handy round, but it was Caitlyn Shiels, owner and head trainer of True North Stables based in Illinois and Florida, and Cassius, owned by Durpetti Equestrian LLC, who topped the field.
The pair was sitting in fourth place after the first round with a score of 87, and showcased adjustability and skillful tight turns, in addition to taking advantage of the high options offered, to earn a 93 in the handy round for a total score of 180 to secure the win. The 9-year-old Warmblood gelding also received the Platinum Performance Hunter Horse of the Week award following his win.
“He is very special to me because I basically started him when he was 7,” said Sheils. “He didn’t really have much experience and he’s been a nice little project for us. He just rises to the occasion when he knows he needs to. He’s like our big honey ham. He’s brave, he’s got a huge heart, he’s my pal and we really have an awesome partnership. I’m really looking forward to derby finals this year. It’ll be a good time.”
Behind Shiels by three points was Will Baker and Portofino Ramiro, owned by Hannah Jablons. They finished on a total score of 177, with scores of 85 and 92 between both rounds, for second place honors. Finishing in third place was Martha Ingram and North Star’s Stallone VDL with a combined score of 176.
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.
2. Portofino Ramiro / Will Baker / Hannah Jablons / 177
3. Stallone VDL / Martha Ingram / North Star / 176
4. Quasa Granda / Angela Calicchio / Cali Horse Sales LLC / 172
5. It’s Top Del Maset / Siena Vasan / Palm Ponies LLC / 170
6. Cakewalk / Caitlyn Shiels / Elise Ledsinger / 168
7. Nobel Laureate / Erika Jakobson / Barn Rat LLC / 167
8. Enchanted / Lauren Ditallo / Marcia Richardson / 164
9. Le Charmeur / Kelsey Wickham / Suzanne Lewand / 159
10. Calvin Klein / Marcus Cmola-Au / Palm Ponies LLC / 156
11. Lexx / Hailey Berger / Paul MacRae / 148.5
12. Beckham / Lillie Parr / Pinecone Farm LLC / 138
On Saturday, Paige Matthies, 17 years old, claimed the Albion College 15-17 Equitation championship with Dudley B. Smith’s Conto Blue in the Jumper Annex Ring.
Matthies from Lake Leelanau, Michigan, won the flat class and finished second and third over fences aboard the 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding to earn the tricolor with the help of trainer Melissa Hirt of Northern Pines Farm.
“I was very happy with how my horse performed. I have to thank the horse show because even though it was raining, the footing managed to stay complete and together. My horse never slipped even though it was very, very rainy yesterday.”
After high school, the junior rider will head to Auburn University in 2019, where she will compete on the school’s National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) riding team.
The reserve championship went to Annalise Reed, trained by Dorothy Campbell of Just A Folly Farm based in Oxford, Michigan, and her own Commendable, placing first and second over fences.