The $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby took place last Friday at the Gulf Coast Winter Classic and welcomed sixteen horse and rider teams to a course designed by Nancy Wallis of Lambertville, New Jersey. This is the first of the five scheduled USHJA Hunter Derbies for the Gulf Coast Winter Classic Show Circuit this year.
The week I winner of the $3,000 Marshall & Sterling Insurance Classic Hunter Derby, Holly Shepherd of Grand Bay, Alabama this time in the irons of Barbar Risius’ Longstreet, was the first to tackle the Classic round and earned a score of 173 which led the first round scores for a majority of the class.
Jordan Lubow, also from Grand Bay, Alabama, in the irons of her own Anthemis Z, came close to beating the leading score with their first round total of 170 and put themselves in a good position for their handy round opportunity. This was no small feat for Lubow. Lubow had just moved to Alabama and started working for Holly last year when she suffered a bad injury resulting in her breaking her tibia, fibula and ankle and also dislocating her ankle. She had to return to California for surgeries and rehab and hadn’t ridden for three months during that time. She returned to Accolade Farm two days before they left for winter circuits.
Photo by Hartwell Photography
Seasoned hunter rider Jason Berry of Verona, Virginia, in the irons of BOA Partners, LLC’s Private I turned in a score of 175.5 to take the lead after the first round and the three headed into the Handy round with the top three placings.
The top 12 returned for the Handy phase of the class and Kara Jones of Cornelius, North Carolina riding her own Chello were first to go after their first round score of 146. Their second round score of 164 for a total 310 points placed them in tenth place overall.
Sarah Young of Spring Hill, Kansas and Helen Gilbert’s White Lightning followed and moved the total score to beat to 320.5 which would place them in ninth place overall.
Shepherd, this time in the irons of Debbie Holland’s Flamboyant again moved the score bar and finished with a combined 325 points to finish in eighth overall.
Young returned to the ring aboard Shannon Nugent’s Tinkas Boy and followed their classic round score of 154 with a handy round score of 173 for a combined 327. The pair would finish in seventh overall.
Carsten S, owned by Barbara Kravetz and ridden by Jennifer Tate of Bourne, Massachusetts, was fifth to go and after a classic score of 155, their handy score of 79 for a combined 234 had them finish in twelfth place.
Tom Brennan of Charles Town, West Virginia in the irons of Anita Ledsinger’s Able followed in the order after earning a classic score of 158, combined with their handy round score of 173 for a combined 331, finished in fifth overall.
High Society, owned by Mary Antonini and ridden by Shepherd, had earned a classic score of 159, however, their handy score was the best of the field with a score of 191 and the pair moved up to finish in second place with their combined total of 350.
Derby rider extraordinaire Shepherd returned in the order, this time in the irons of Margaret Camp’s Midas. Their first round score of 159, combined with their handy round score of 187 had the finish in fourth overall with a combined 346 total.
Tim Maddrix of Leeds, Alabama and Liddy Strickland’s Valentine followed after posting a classic score of 163 points. Their second round score of 185.5 for a combined 348 had the pair finish in third place overall.
The heat was on now as the final three were set to go. Lubow and Anthemis Z followed Maddrix and Valentine with a handy score of 184. Their combined score of 354 moved them up to first place, however, two rides remained.
Photo by Hartwell Photography
Shepherd and Longstreet followed with their handy score of 158 which left Lubow in the lead and moved Longstreet to finish in sixth place overall.
Last to go Berry and Private I were only able to score 111 in the handy round for a combined 286.5 which moved them down to finish in eleventh place.
Lubow commented, “When Jason [Berry] went he was great, but they had a rail at their first jump. Holly was actually last to go because she had to ride so many and she was great too, but the second to last line was bending and he just came off his lead. So, basically, the course was really solid and rode well, those errors were just horses being horses…it happens,” she said. “There was a tricky turn to fence 2 in the handy round if you took the high option,” she added. “It was a big 4’ vertical set right out of the turn. I took it and had no problems.”
Lubow’s horse Anthemis Z is six this year and is in his 1st year Greens. She bought him when he was three and has done all the training on him by herself. “When I got hurt, Holly rode him while I was out of commission. She totally transformed him for me and did all the finishing touches. She rode him at La Bocage and got a third in the National Derby there and rode in Tryon too in the 3’3”,” she said.
“This was only our second international hunter derby for both of us and our first win!” she said. Lubow was especially happy to say that Holly [Shepherd] is letting her ride in her first grand prix tomorrow on Sky High. “I’m so excited, I’m on cloud 9,” she said.