Living up to her reputation, 2017 champion Victoria Colvin once again reigned supreme in the 2018 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, defending her title this time aboard Brad Wolf’s Private Practice. Hunter superstar Colvin and Private Practice were accompanied Saturday evening by 33 of the nation’s top hunter horses and athletes, ultimately jumping into a league all their own with a 16.5-point victory over the next closest competitor to easily secure the lead spot in the victory gallop and the greatest share of the nearly $300,000 purse. No stranger to finishing within the top of the rankings, Liza Boyd stylishly piloted both of her mounts to a podium finish, claiming the runner-up honors with Clemens and the third place slot with Tradition.
Throughout the entirety of the class, the lead consistently changed hands as horse-and-athlete partnerships one-upped each other in the eyes of the judges. Within the last half of the class, the lead changed no less than five times, with Meagan Murray-Tenuta on Becky Price’s Editorial, Jamie Taylor aboard Iwasaki and Reilly’s Small Kingdom and Dorothy Douglas in the saddle on MTM Farm’s MTM One Time each taking a turn commanding the class.
True to handy round standards, veteran course designers Alan Lohman and Danny Moore constructed a winding 11-effort track that incorporated a trot jump, lofty high-option fences and inside turn options in addition to a three-pronged obstacle that allowed exhibitors to elect to jump as a bounce, a one-stride or a two-stride depending upon preference.
With only two left to ride, Boyd and Clemens, owned by Finally Farm and Westerly Farm, cantered into the ring with two fresh horseshoes, having pulled a pair in the warm-up ring prior to their turn. The duo proved to be the best performers at that point in the competition with a two-round score of 589.50, thanks to their individual marks of 89, 91 and 92 plus 12 high-option bonus points and 29 handy points out of a possible 30.
Riding second-to-last, Colvin and the chromey chestnut gelding needed 310.5 points to match the cumulative score of the current class leaders. Leaving nothing to chance, the 20-year-old professional navigated Private Practice to all four of the high-option fences, while showcasing the gelding’s handiness and graceful way of moving, finishing a fanciful trip to the tune of a near perfect score.
“I glanced today at the ring but there still wasn’t anything to walk,” Colvin shared regarding her plan for the day’s course. “Yesterday, he was really good. He hadn’t been in this ring so he was a little greener yesterday than he was today. Today, he stepped in and he was fantastic. He jumped out of his skin today and really rose up to the occasion. It was a good course for him because he prefers his right lead a little bit and that kind of favored the course. The in-and-out was made for him, I thought. He felt really supple and amazing today. Everything went as planned and that was fantastic. I watched people go before me, so I walked my course through other people.”
Colvin and Private Practice put the pressure on the classic round winners and the last pair to ride, Holly Shepherd and Helen Brown’s Tybee, with impressive scores of 95, 96 and 96 plus 12 bonus points and 28 handy points, to add 327 points to her day one score for a composite tally of 606 points, more than 16 points ahead of Boyd and Clemens. Colvin and “Peter” did not have to wait long, as Shepherd and Tybee were not able to muster the necessary points to takeover the head spot atop the scorecard, securing Colvin and Private Practice the 2018 championship.
“It feels amazing,” said an elated Colvin. “It wasn’t Cuba, but that’s okay because [Private Practice] was amazing. I hope that he is going to continue to do really well in the derbies.”
Judge Carlton Brooks summed up his thoughts on this year’s Championship: “I would like to congratulate everyone for great riding. The course showed everyone that you had to be ready for a championship. [Friday’s] course was phenomenal and it separated everyone really well. Today, I thought you had to be really physical and ride up to the jumps. I think there was a separation of the ones who could really rise to the occasion and the ones who couldn’t. It was really great to judge.
Tori’s horse jumped every jump exactly the same. She never changed her pace. It really separated her and there was no question. Liza’s horse jumped phenomenal, but Tori never missed a link. Tori walked in the ring and it was the Tori Colvin that we all know and love.”
In 2017, Colvin won the title aboard John and Stephanie Ingram’s Cuba, and with her 2018 win, she is added to the history books as only the second athlete to champion the event more than once as well as the second athlete to win the rosette back-to-back during the program’s 10-year history. In good company, Colvin shares the status with derby poster child Boyd, the three-time winner with Brunello in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Though Boyd did not earn the top call once again in 2018, she still made out with plenty of reasons to celebrate as the reserve champion and third place finisher. While Colvin and Private Practice won nearly $50,000 for their championship performances, Boyd’s two top placings earned her just over $56,000, the largest amount given to one rider during the evening.
Displaying an unmatched level of talent, Private Practice is on his way to being one of the most highly-decorated hunter horses in the sport, accruing numerous victories and standout results in his short tenure as a hunter. Some of his recent high-profile accolades include winning the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby during the Palm Beach Masters Series’ Deeridge Derby and the first place prize in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Aiken Charity Horse Show.
He carried Colvin to fourth place in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival and sixth place in the prestigious $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Outside of derbies, the flashy gelding has accumulated countless blue ribbons in 3’9” and 4’ divisions at horse shows across the country. Adding to his impressive nature is the fact that 8-year-old Private Practice only recently transitioned to the hunter ranks from the jumper ring, and this year is his first with Colvin in the saddle.
In the final standings, Shepherd and Tybee jumped to fourth place overall with 584.25 points, just fractions of a point behind Boyd and Tradition’s score of 584.75. Samantha Schaefer and Madeline Schaefer’s In The Know maneuvered their way into fifth place, up from ninth place after Friday’s classic round, while Douglas and MTM One Time rounded out the top six in the standings. As the highest-placing of the Tier II pairs based on winnings throughout the qualifying period, Douglas and the Holsteiner gelding added to their prize money as the Section B winners, concluding the championship with nearly $25,000 more to their names.
Earlier in the afternoon, 40 horse-and-athlete combinations that missed the cut-off for the handy round took another shot at earning some prize money, riding in the $10,000 Derby Challenge. Similar to the evening’s handy round, Lohman and Moore’s course included plenty of high-option jumps and opportunities to utilize inside turns, allowing riders to exhibit their mount’s abilities.
Ninth in the order, Amanda Steege and Wendy Salomon’s Maitre D’ earned the first standout score of the evening, riding to total marks of 295 from the three panels of judges. Steege and the bay gelding’s lead would not hold long though, as little more than halfway through the class Tracy Fenney and MTM Farm’s MTM Silver Alert set their sights on the top spot on the leaderboard, improving upon their peers’ performances to capture the lead with 299.50 points.
Subsequent competitors laid down solid performances with scores in the 70s and 80s, but none were able to catch the high score set forth by Fenney and MTM Silver Alert, solidifying them as the Derby Challenge champions and largest prize winners of the class. Other than the champions, Steege and Maitre D’ also remained unsurpassed to claim the runner-up spot, trailed by Havens Schatt and Kelley Corrigan’s black stallion Diatendro, who garnered a final score of 290 to finish in third place.
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Final Score
2018 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship
1. Private Practice / Victoria Colvin / Brad Wolf / 606.00
2. Clemens / Elizabeth Boyd / Finally Farm & Westerly Farm / 589.50
3. Tradition / Elizabeth Boyd / Maggie Hill / 584.75
4. Tybee / Holly Shepherd / Helen Brown / 584.25
5. In The Know / Samantha Schaefer / Madeline Schaefer / 582.350
6. MTM One Time / Dorothy Douglas / MTM Farm / 580.00
7. Exclusive / Jimmy Torano / Isalou Inc / 577.00
8. MTM Outbid / Tracy Fenney / MTM Farm / 575.90
9. Small Kingdom / Jamie Taylor / Iwasaki & Reilly / 571.50
10. Red Ryder / Hannah Isop / Tracy Freels / 569.75