The final day of the Kentucky Spring Classic saw hunter competitors vying for the top prize in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by the World Equestrian Center and Kentucky Horse Shows. Twenty-five horse-and-rider combinations entered the Stonelea Ring with hopes of capturing the top prize, but no one could catch Jordan Allen and Eclypse, who claimed first place with a total score of 184.
The first round of competition asked athletes to demonstrate their skills over a lengthy course which involved bending lines and multiple combinations. After all 25 horse-and-rider teams completed their course, the top 12 athletes who scored an 80.5 or higher were asked to return for a second handy round. During the handy round horses demonstrated their horse’s handiness by executing tight turns and a trot fence was also added to the course.
Allen and Eclypse dominated both rounds of derby competition by scoring a 92 during round one and again during round two. Their scores could not be caught by any other competitor, which included veteran riders such as Jeff Gogul and David Beisel. Allen utilized all available opportunities for points, including all four high option fences during round one and round two.
“I was actually pretty nervous, but I knew that she would be really good. I actually ran here from another ring so I had no time to prepare,” said Allen of her trips. “I almost went off course in the first round because I had no time to learn the course. But in the handy round I was able to watch a lot and plan to see how tight I could be. I knew that a lot of people weren’t turning inside of the hay bales. The person who was in second did though so I knew that I had to try it and it ended up working really well.”
Allen and Eclypse, a 10-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Holly Orlando, teamed up during Week 11 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida where they placed consistently in the Junior Hunters.
“She is one of my favorite hunters to ride ever,” Allen shared. “This year, I’ve been riding a couple of [Holly Orlando’s] horses and Eclypse is by far my favorite. I started riding her during Week 11 of WEF. I actually didn’t have a horse to do in the Washington [International Horse Show Equitation] class and so I got on Eclypse last minute because they said she would be perfect. It went so well and I’ve been doing her in the Juniors ever since. She is the most consistent, best horse that I’ve ridden. She is always there for you and she always wants to win. She tries so hard and I love her a lot.”
Second place was earned by Samantha Cooper and Nandino, a 10-year-old Brandenberg Warmblood owned by Ellen Malson. The pair put in a first round score of 89 and a second handy round score of 93 for a combined total of 182.
Last week’s National Derby winner at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, Jeff Gogul and Quite Ruffy captured third place with an 86 in round one and a 91 in round two for a 177-point total.
$5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Horse / Rider / Total Score
1. Eclypse / Jordan Allen / 184.00
2. Nandino / Samantha Cooper / 182.00
3. Quite Ruffy / Jeff Gogul / 177.00
4. Caillou De La / Josh Dolan / 175.00
5. Tanzillion / Jeff Gogul / 167.50
6. Golden Glock / Schuyler Riley / 165.25
7. Constant Z / Geoffrey Hesslink / 164.50
8. Never Forget / Renee Lenkart / 164.00
9. Everglade Vdl / Saylor Shea / 160.00
10. Lavish / David Beisel / 135.00
11. Candor / Alyssa Mansfield / 130.50
12. AF Cassini I / David Beisel / 83.0