Samantha Schaefer and Trademark are Remarkable in $7,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby in Traverse City

Derby contenders took to the Polk Family Main Hunter Ring on Sunday morning at the Traverse City Fall Horse Show CSI3*, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, for a shot at the top prize in the $7,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. The last major hunter contest of the week, the class featured 34 horse-and-rider combinations, all of which were topped by Samantha Schaefer and Take 3 LLC’s Trademark, who led from start to finish to add another derby victory to their growing list of accomplishments. Trademark also carried Schaefer to first place in back-to-back $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derbies in June during the spring installment of the horse show in Traverse City.

Samantha Schaefer on Trademark. Photo by Allyson Lagiovane/Phelps Sports.

Course designer Andy Christiansen was at the helm for the two-round class, and produced a 12-effort track for the classic phase that served to weed out the elite contenders from the rest of the field. Eighth in the order, Trademark carried Schaefer to a high-earning precedent, rewarded by the judges panel with a score of 94 following the pair’s effortless classic trip. Schaefer and Trademark’s tally still sat atop the scorecard at the end of the round, followed by Megan Ghere and Carluca with a score of 89.50 in second position. Tiffany Morrissey and On Your Mark were just a half-point back with marks of 89 for third place headed into the handy, and Alliy Moyer piloted Hero to fourth in the rankings another half-point off the pace with 88.50. Exhibitors collectively put on a good show, with the cut-off score for the top 12 sitting at a lofty 84 points.

For the handy phase, Christiansen’s 9-fence pattern offered a trot fence, four high-low fence options and plenty of rollbacks and changes of direction for returning duos to show off their skills. Returning to the ring in reverse order, Kate Conover and Small Social were the midway pair in sixth position, and the partnership improved upon their earlier score of 87 with a 92-point score to emerge as the frontrunners with five left to tackle the track. Ultimately, it came down to the final entry though, as Schaefer directed the 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding with a distinctive white spot around the course to the tune of 90 points, plus four high options bonus points, to earn a cumulative handy score of 94, only the third time the 90-point threshold had been hit during the class, to finish on a total tally of 188 and claim the tricolors.

Samantha Schaefer on Trademark in their presentation ceremony. Photo by Allyson Lagiovane/Phelps Sports.

On Trademark, Schaefer remarked: “I think he’s just kind of the perfect hunter. He’s really pretty across the ground and he has great technique and presence in the ring. Even when he trots in the ring, he really catches your eye. Whether it be his movement or his white markings, I think he just really stands out from start to finish. He’s been quite a process to bring along but I think now that it’s all coming together he really stands out, especially in these events.”

Kate Conover on Small Social. PHoto by Allyson Lagiovane/Phelps Sports.

Conover and Small Social, owned by Iwasaki & Reilly, maintained their status near the top of the scorecard with a second-place finish thanks to a total score of 179, and Morrissey rounded out the podium in third place aboard On your Mark, owned by Lisa Berger, with 178.50 points, just fractions behind the runner-up combination.

Great sportsmanship! Kate Conover (left) with Samantha Schaefer. Photo by Allyson Lagiovane/Phelps Sports.

Hunter riding at the Traverse City Fall Horse Show CSI3*, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, came to a close Sunday, August 30. Riding will resume Wednesday, September 2 at Flintfields Horse Park for the 50th American Gold Cup, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC and featuring the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament.

Full Results – $7,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby:

Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score / Total
1. Trademark / Samantha Schaefer / Take 3 LLC / 94 / 94 / 188
2. Small Social / Kate Conover / Reilly & Iwasaki / 87 / 92 / 179
3. On Your Mark / Tiffany Morrissey / Lisa Berger / 89 / 89 / 178.5
4. Hero / Alliy Moyer / Moyer Farm Llc / 88.5 / 89 / 177.5
5. Carluca / Megan Ghere / Donald Stewart / 89.5 / 86 / 175.5
6. Suede / Hillary Johnson / Copper Fox LLC / 84 / 88/ 172
7. Arabesque / Steven Gregorio / Bill Schaub / 85 / 86 / 171
8. Hannes / Tiffany Morrissey / East Wind Farms LLC / 85.5 / 85 / 170.5
9. Seaside / Juliette Joseph / Reilly & Iwasaki / 88 / 79 / 167
10. Aviator / Roger Turner / Denise Short / 84 / 75 / 159
11. Jordan / Marisa Metzger / Gentry Beresford / 84.5 / 71 / 155.5
12. Leo 626 / Juliette Joseph / Sharn Wordley / 86.5 / 68 / 154.5