Traverse City, Mich – July 17, 2016 – Maggie Gould concluded World Championship Hunter Rider week at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival by defending her title in the Glory Days Farm, LLC $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. After winning the class during week one, Gould came back stronger than before to best the field of riders yet again.
The first round of the derby saw 23 riders, each one braving the rain and wind to try and take the top spot. The course included various high and low options, single fences, a two-stride and a bending line. After the first round, it was Geoffrey Hesslink riding Esco that took the lead.
Hesslink and Esco earned a 92 for their first round after taking all of the high option fences. “My first round was good,” Hesslink commented. “I would like to improve some things upon myself, but Esco was amazing. He handled the rain and the weather conditions and jumped the course beautifully and we were winning by a point!”
Gould and Taje Warrick’s Drommels followed close behind Hesslink’s round one score with a 91, also taking all high options. Gould said, “We were a little unsure when it started to storm what it was going to do, but the footing held up when it was starting to rain, so we went ahead with the game plan. The first round he was super, we went in, he went super nice. The course rides really nicely, nice and smooth, had a good flow to it, and he was perfect.”
The top twelve riders were invited back to the ring for the handy course, a more technical course with rollbacks and a trot fence. Douglas Boyd was the tenth rider to come into the handy round, and was sitting in fourth place with a score of 88. After being the first one to successfully pilot his mount, Calido’s Son, around the tight rollback to the trot fence, the judges rewarded him with a score of 93 to move him up to first place.Douglas Boyd and Calido’s Son. PC: Allyson Lagiovane
Hesslink was second to last to complete the handy round and went directly after Boyd’s stunning round. Hesslink made the decision to also try for the tight rollbacks, and was also rewarded with an impressive score of 94 to move him back into first.
Hesslink said, “The handy round I actually was planning the entire time to kind of play it safe and have a nice round to stay on top. But then Doug Boyd went in before me and did the inside turn to the trot jump and they really rewarded him for that. So I kind of just said I was going to play it be ear and then I kind of just went for it, and it worked out.”
Gould was the last rider to go as spectators watched anxiously to see what she would decide to do. Riding her jumper recently turned hunter mount, Drommels, Gould also beautifully demonstrated the rollback turn to the trot fence, earning a whopping score of 96 to bump her up to first place.
Gould said, “Going in, when I started, the strategy was just to kind of go around the double, but then Doug Boyd went inside and did it really well and got a good score, so then we practiced out in the schooling area and we were like, ‘We have to go inside’ and Drommels was fantastic!”
Gould’s spectacular round led to a total score of 187, pushing Hesslink down to second place by just one point, with a total score of 186. Boyd’s total score of 181 rounded out the top three in the class, with Winn Alden and Marshall finishing in fourth with a total score of 177.5.
Gould added, “It’s just a lot of fun to do, and Drommels is a really fun horse. I was nervous, for sure this week more so than last, but he’s so much fun to ride that it makes it a joy to do!”
Competition at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival kicks off Week Three on Wednesday, July 20, beginning at 8 a.m. For more information, visit www.greatlakesequestrianfestival.com