Kelley Farmer and Jeff Gogul Claim Top Prizes in USHJA Hunter Derbies at Kentucky Horse Park

Hunter competition continued in the Stonelea Ring with the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby and the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, which concluded competition at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. At the end of the handy round of competition, it was Jeff Gogul and Just Ruffy that put in the best effort to take home top honors in the National Hunter Derby. Directly after, it was veteran rider Kelley Farmer and Aizlynn Radwanski’s Because who claimed the blue ribbon in the International Hunter Derby.

During the USHJA International Hunter Derby, 24 competitors tried for the champion ribbon, but no horse-and-rider combination could catch Farmer, who took home the top prize with a cumulative score of 392 after both rounds of competition. Farmer sat in a good position to claim the lead in some fashion, as she had entered with four different horses.

Kelley Farmer and Because. Photo by Phelps Media Group

Farmer and Because tackled the first round of competition with ease, despite some technical elements to the course including a wall fence that was placed in challenging location. During the handy round the pair secured the highest score of the day by utilizing all four of the high option fences in addition to accumulating 15 handy bonus points from the judges.

“This might be one of the most amazing animals to ride ever,” said Farmer of her winning mount. “I rode him sporadically through the [Winter Equestrian Festival], but this is the first time he’s back jumping the 4′ again and he was amazing. He’s such an amazing animal. It’s such a pleasure to ride him because he tries so hard and he’s so easy. He’s very fun to ride.”

Kelley Farmer and Because. Photo by Phelps Media Group

Her plan for the day was pretty simple: let Because do his job. “My plan with him is always just to stay out of his way. If I don’t screw up, then chances are it goes well because he always tried to do right. My plan was to be smooth and stay out of his way. The two walls in the course, if I wasn’t careful, could have been a problem but he is so careful, so I wasn’t too worried.”

In second was another veteran hunter rider, Jennifer Alfano aboard her own Candid, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding. The pair rode to second place with a cumulative score of 382. Alfano also claimed third place with Sharon O’Neill’s Miss Lucy with a score of 380.50. The pair recently placed second in the $50,000 USHJA Pin Oak Charity Horse Show.

Jeff Gogul and Just Ruffy. Photo by Phelps Media Group

Earlier in the day, the USHJA National Hunter Derby took place in the Stonelea Ring as well. Athletes navigated over a 10-fence course that offered four high option fences. The top twelve riders were asked to return to complete a handy round where they demonstrated their capabilities over a trot fence and multiple options for tight turns.
Despite being a relatively new combination, Jeff Gogul and Just Ruffy dominated the first round of competition with a score of 91. They were the only competitors of the day to achieve a score in the nineties, which put them in a good position entering the handy round. After the handy round, the pair had a cumulative score of 180. Just Ruffy has been a reliable derby mount for Gogul, having won six derbies during the winter season at the World Equestrian Center in Tryon, North Carolina.
“Ruffy is awesome,” said Gogul. “I think this is his seventh derby win just this year. He has been such a consistent contender for me in this derby series. He is a blast to ride. He has a lot of experience; I can trust him to make tight turns and he is usually really good about the trot jump. He is always looking for where we’re going next and he’s just always really game. He just a beautiful horse with such a beautiful way of going and an impeccable jumping style.”
Second place was captured by Jordan Allen and Eclypse, a 10-year-old Hanoverian owned by Holly Orlando. The pair narrowly missed tying for first place with Gogul, acquiring a final cumulative score of 179. In a similar fashion, Alyssa Mansfield and Candor placed in a third with a score of 178 after two rounds of competition.
Competition at the Kentucky Horse Park will resume on Wednesday, May 16th with the start of the Kentucky Spring Classic. Hunter highlights of the week will include the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, the $131,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix CSI3*, and the $20,000 Under 25 Grand Prix.
USHJA International Hunter Derby
Place / Horse / Rider / Score
1. Because / Kelley Farmer / 392
2. Candid / Jennifer Alfano / 382
3. Miss Lucy / Jennifer Alfano / 380.5
4. Mostly Sunny / Havens Schatt / 378
5. Shameless / Kelley Farmer / 371
6. Dibz / Josh Dolan / 324
7. Market Trend / Taylor Kain / 323
8. Cassini I / David Beisel / 316
USHJA National Hunter Derby
Place / Horse / Rider / Score
1. Quite Ruffy / Jeff Gogul / 180
2. Eclypse / Jordan Allen / 179
3. Candor / Alyssa Mansfield / 178
4. Golden Glock / Schuyler Riley / 172
5. Snowbird / Sofia Roberts / 163.50
6. Undeniable / Diana Conlon / 162
7. Carat / Lilly French / 159