The final day of World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week at the 2019 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by Captive One Advisors, LLC, brought a large pack of 43 horse-and-rider pairs to the Polk Family Main Hunter Ring to vie for first place in the $7,500 Outdoors USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Camping World and Gander Outdoors. Topping the field, Jacob Pope of Team Rakowsky in Wellington, Florida, and Last Word ultimately led the lap of honor as the highest-scoring team thanks to two textbook rounds.
Jacob Pope and Last Word. Photo: Andrew Ryback Photography
Following the first round of riding, the top 12 partnerships qualified for a return trip over course designer Nick Granat’s handy track, with the cut-off score sitting at 83.50. Heading into the handy round, the top 12 were led by Week I derby winner Courtney Lenkart aboard Lori Mathews’ Captain America with a score of 93. Pope and Becky Price’s Last Word sat in the fourth place position with a score of 90.50, but were able to make up the difference over the second round track thanks to a standout performance that earned them 96 points, the highest single score of the day, to finish on a cumulative 186.50 points.
“He was great,” Pope shared. “The first round was really nice and I thought he showed off his jumps well. The course and the ring were beautiful, and everything just showed up really nice out of the corners. I thought he really turned himself on for the handy. I got to do all of the inside turns and a nice gallop to the last jump. He really shined today.”
That score proved to be unbeatable, while Caitlyn Shiels and Corporate Way LLC’s Subject To Change claimed second place overall with a total score of 184 and Jordan Allen with Susan Stanley’s Rainier rounded out the top three with 182 points.
Pope is accustomed to the winner’s circle in derby competition at GLEF, having won the weekly feature hunter class on multiple Sundays in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, he opened the series with the Week I win with J’Adore, and finished full circle to conclude the circuit with the victory in the Week VI class aboard the same horse. In 2018, Pope took a one-two finish in the Week I derby riding Lovely Charity and Cariatide, respectively.
“I’ve known him for a while,” said Pope of Last Word. “Meagan Murray-Tenuta is the trainer that usually rides him, but she is getting ready to have a baby so I took over the ride in Kentucky. Ivan Rakowsky and Meagan have helped me on the ground. He is pretty young. I think he started his hunter career over the winter, but he has really come along and he is a fantastic horse.”
As the $7,500 Outdoors USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Camping World and Gander Outdoors, champions, Pope and Last Word were also awarded the Platinum Performance Hunter Horse of the Week accolade as the pair earned the most points from the USHJA National Hunter Derby during the competition week.
$7,500 Outdoors USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Camping World and Gander Outdoors:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score / Total Score
1. Last Word / Jacob Pope / Becky Price / 90.50 / 96 / 186.50
2. Subject To Change / Caitlyn Shiels / Corporate Way L.L.C. / 90 / 94 / 184
3. Rainier / Jordan Allen / Susan Stanley / 91 / 91 / 182
4. Corallo Z / Greg Crolick / Renaud Farm LLC / 89.50 / 92 / 181.50
5. Captain America / Courtney Lenkart / Lori Mathews / 93 / 86 / 179
6. Kasperato / Jacob Pope / Orpen Horses / 90.75 / 88 / 178.75
7. Grand Tour / Melissa Donnelly / Elizabeth Becker / 87 / 89 / 176
8. Castle Black / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 86.250 / 87 / 173.25
9. Honor / Ashleen Lee / Ashleen Lee / 86.50 / 85 / 171.50
10. Delightful / Abigail Gordon / Sloan Lindemann-Barnett / 86 / 84 / 170
11. CW Fringe Benefits / Caitlyn Shiels / Corporate Way L.L.C. / 88 / 75 / 163
12. Caption / Victoria Colvin / Victoria Colvin & Partners LLC / 85.50 / 55 / 140.50