Video: Tori Colvin and Cuba are USHJA International Hunter Derby Champions

Victoria Colvin and Cuba. PC: Phelps Media

After two rounds of intensely close competition between the best derby horses and riders in the world, Tori Colvin captured the first International Hunter Derby Championship win of her career aboard Cuba, an 11-year-old warmblood gelding owned by John and Stephanie Ingram. The pair trailed after the classic round, but came back swinging in the handy to take top honors.

“Amazing. I couldn’t have asked Cuba to go any better,” said Tori after her win. “He’s not very spooky and he’s an honest horse, so I didn’t really think he was going to bat an eye or anything, but I didn’t know how much experience he would have with a very large ring. It’s more intense than regular classes. I felt like he was going to go really well in the handy. All day he’s been quiet and perfect and in a good frame of mind, so he went how I thought he was going to which worked out as planned.”

Congratulations to Tori Colvin and Cuba on winning the 2017 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship after an outstanding Handy Round!

Posted by EQSportsNet on Saturday, August 19, 2017

Tori and Cuba both appeared to be having a lot of fun on course, tackling each fence with personality and momentum suited to the course.

“I thought it was perfect. You could pick up a nice gallop from the start and be able to keep the pace throughout the whole course. That is one of my favorite things to do so it was fun. There weren’t many lines and that was also a favorite thing of mine – single jumps, oxers. They all jump these jumps amazing. There is big fill. There weren’t many airy jumps so they all jumped them with a lot of style. I think my favorite part of the course was turning from  1 to  2 – We didn’t know which option fence to do and I thought the handiest one would be to go to the third one. I think that was the most fun part because I got to turn really tight back and just slice it.”

Geoffrey Hesslink and Cadoretto. PC: Phelps Media

Geoffrey Hesslink and Cadoretto were making their Derby Championship debut Saturday evening, but the tremendous pressure of the event only helped them rise to the occasion, ultimately taking reserve championship honors.

“I’m extremely happy. I came here with low expectations with some goals, but this was amazing and I’m over the moon that my horse was that good.” said Geoffrey. “”I was very nervous [yesterday]. I was a little unsure with my horse being so young and I felt a lot of pressure being up there. This is my first time so I tried to stay away from this ring as much as possible today, but then I walked the course and I felt pretty confident about it. When I warmed up he felt amazing so I took a shot and he was great.”

Amanda Seege and Maitre D. PC: Phelps Media

Amanda Steege and Maitre D were early to ride in the handy round, but set a bold standard that would set them atop the leaderboard until the very end of the night when the top five entered the ring. Until that point, no one could come close to matching their round which was smooth and forward, but also full of thoughtful, calculated risks.

“I really can’t believe it. I think I’m still digesting the whole thing. [Maitre D’ ] just went out there like he owned the place and it was an amazing feeling,” said Amanda. “”As riders there was a whole group of us watching, and I think we riders get really focused on the handy and ‘where’s the tree – should we go inside the tree or outside the tree,’ but when I stood there watching some of the early rounds in the B section, what I noticed was that the handy bonus points weren’t about that. They weren’t about if you were inside the tree or outside the tree – they were about your pace. Yes, they don’t want you to go all the way to the other end of the ring, but it was more about pace than it was about the exact track. I think those handy bonus points really start to come into play in this class so it’s kind of important to try to figure out where you can get those.”

One of the judges, Danny Robertshaw, concurred with Amanda’s assessment completely.

“Everything Amanda said is dead on. She did exactly what she said. There were some nice trips in the beginning, but they were very safe and not flowing or fluid and [Colvin, Hesslink and Steege] – what was beautiful is they went for it, they tried. They rode like they were going to win and they did that. They stuck to that rhythm and the horses were beautifully prepared. They followed the ring beautifully and looked out of the bridle and they were able to turn and yet keep balanced, and then find a real distance and not a made up one because of choking and freezing and that made the ultimate difference in the end.”

See highlights of the top three rounds here:

Enjoy Highlights of the Top 3 from the 2017 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship!

Posted by EQSportsNet on Saturday, August 19, 2017

Place / Rider / Horse / Owner / Classic Score / Handy Score / Final

USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship
1. Victoria Colvin / Cuba / John & Stephanie Ingram, LLC / 275.25 / 309.00 / 584.25
2. Geoffrey Hesslink / Cadoretto / Geoffrey Hesslink / 273.00 / 301.50 / 574.50
3. Amanda Steege / Maitre D’ / Wendy Salomon / 265.50 / 295.00 / 560.50
4. Taylor St Jacques / Charisma / Heritage Farm, Inc. / 260.00 / 299.75 / 559.75
5. Kelli Cruciotti / Monterrey / Kelli Cruciotti / 262.00 / 291.50 / 553.50
6. Amy Momrow / Aeroplane / Melissa Wight / 269.00 / 284.25 / 553.25
7. Jenny Karazissis / Legacy / Emily Sukert / 260.70 / 291.75 / 552.45
8. Erica Quinn / Celtic Fire / CF Partners / 267.40 / 276.60 / 544.00
9. Jennifer Alfano / Miss Lucy / Sharon O’Neill / 271.80 / 270.55 / 542.35
10. Elizabeth Boyd / Cassanto / Stella Styslinger / 258.75 / 281.50 / 540.25
11. Meagan Murray-Tenuta / Editorial / Becky Price / 254.00 / 282.00 / 536.00
12. John French / Center Court / Hiller Farms LLC / 278.50 / 257.00 / 535.50