Jacob Pope Finishes One-Two in $25K USHJA International Hunter Derby, Presented by Copper Fox LLC

Hunter action at the 2019 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, LLC, reached its pinnacle during Week IV as some of the nation’s best derby horses and athletes vied for the tricolor in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Copper Fox LLC, on Saturday evening. Proving why he consistently tops the leaderboards, Jacob Pope of Team Rakowsky in Wellington, Florida, piloted Last Word to the horse’s second derby win of the 2019 GLEF series, and also claimed second place aboard Unbelievable. In Sunday’s $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Fig Street Marketing Group, Maria Rasmussen of Illinois-based Sea Change Farm and Monte Carlo led the lap of honor as the highest-scoring partnership.

Jacob Pope and Last Word. Photo: Andrew Ryback Photography

Held in the Grand Prix Ring, the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Copper Fox LLC, attracted 30 talented entries each hoping to conclude the evening with a prize money check in tow. To earn a strong position on the judges’ scorecards, exhibitors had to master course designer Joe Carnicom’s classic round derby track to warrant a callback for the handy round. Following the first portion of riding, the cut-off score for the top 12 duos was a respectable 161.10, with Pope and Becky Price’s Last Word leading the pack with 186 points.

As the last to return over the handy course, Pope and Last Word once again wowed the judges panel and were awarded an impressive score of 199 to secure the winning honors with a cumulative score of 385, almost 20 points ahead of second place. With a score of 368.50, Pope also nabbed the second place position riding Unbelievable, owned by Forget Me Not Farm, while Erin Floyd rounded out the top three aboard Cleopatra’s Smile, owned by Wolfstone Stables and Sales Inc. Saturday’s derby win is Pope and Last Word’s second of the 2019 GLEF season, having won the $7,500 Outdoors USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Camping World and Gander Outdoors, during Week II, World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week.

Jacob Pope and Last Word. Photo: Andrew Ryback Photography

“Last Word is amazing,” shared an elated Pope. “I just got the ride — I took over from Megan at Country Heir in Kentucky just a couple of weeks ago. Since then, he has won the national derby here and we did the international derby today and he was incredible. [We are] getting ready for derby finals. My first round, the classic round, I thought he really excelled. We had a pair of 93s. He was amazing — slow, smooth and really lofty over the jumps. He was careful, sharp and beautiful. Really, it doesn’t get any better than that. He was great.”

Pope was also the recipient of the Vintage Row Farm Hunter Style of Riding Award, which was presented to him by Chaz Harpman following Saturday’s class. Pope was selected as the honoree due to his sportsmanship and epitomization of classic horsemanship that combines a traditional foundation with a modern twist as well as his positive attitude and respect for each horse.

Sunday morning brought with it another derby competition, this time in the form of the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Fig Street Marketing Group. Following the first round of riding, Maya Grove’s Monte Carlo had carried Rasmussen to the highest first round score of 93, one of two partnerships to hit the 90-point benchmark, as owner-rider Emma Flett and Drommels were hot on their heels with a score of 90. Returning for the handy phase, the remainder of the top challengers that earned a spot in the top 12 aimed to chase down the leaders, but none were able to match the efforts of Rasmussen and Monte Carlo. As the final entry, the frontrunners needed a score of 80 or higher to secure the victory, and provided the necessary performance to earn them 92 points to finish on a combined two-round score of 185.

Maintaining the second place spot, Flett and Drommels finished in reserve with a composite score of 172, and Rachel Lindsey navigated MTM Opening Bell, owned by Valerie Kalderon, to third place overall with 162.50 points.

As the champions of the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Fig Street Marketing Group, Rasmussen and Monte Carlo were also awarded the Week IV Platinum Performance Hunter Horse of the Week accolade.

$25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Copper Fox LLC:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score / Total
1. Last Word / Jacob Pope / Becky Price / 186 / 199 / 385
2. Unbelievable / Jacob Pope / Forget Me Not Farm / 171.50 / 197 / 368.50
3. Cleopatra’s Smile / Erin Floyd / Wolfstone Stables & Sales Inc / 165.50 / 187 / 352.50
4. Cassius / Caitlyn Shiels / Durpetti Equestrian LLC / 174.10 / 173 / 347.10
5. Catori / Kelli Cruciotti / Serenity Farm / 161.100 / 182 / 343.10
6. Caesar Augustus / Ed Copeland / Anneliese Kolaska / 162.50 / 172 / 334.50
7. Corallo Z / Greg Crolick / Renaud Farm LLC / 174 / 115 / 289
8. Fabulous / Ailish Cunniffe / Whipstick Farm Ltd. / 178.50 / 98 / 276.50
9. Quintessential / Peter Pletcher / Spruce Meadows / 179 / 89 / 268.000
10. Like Minded / Jacob Pope / Selma Garber / 167.75 / 95 / 262.75
11. Hobbs Lane / Maria Rasmussen / Sunset View Farm LlLC / 166.50 / 95.50 / 262
12. Grand Tour / Melissa Donnelly / Elizabeth Becker / 166 / 93 / 259