Traverse City, Mich. – July 7, 2019 – Week I hunter competition continued throughout the weekend at the 2019 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, LLC, with the Polk Family Main Hunter Ring featuring the highlight hunter event of the week, the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by the Ingram family. Riding twice to near-perfect scores, Courtney Lenkart of South Haven Farm based in Bartonville, Texas, and Lori Mathews’ Alisto claimed the first place prize ahead of a tightly-contested field that consistently earned marks above the 80-point benchmark. Abigail Gordon and Delightful, Paige Matthies aboard Conto Blue and Debra Kirsch with Naples Bay each also rode to victory in their respective hunter and equitation divisions.
For the first hunter derby of the circuit, 27 horse-and-rider teams elected to compete, with the top 12 pairs qualifying for a return trip over course designer Nick Granat’s abridged handy track. The first round of riding was an impressive show of excellence by many of the exhibitors, with a score of 76 serving as the cut-off mark. Headed into the handy phase, Lenkart and Alisto were the frontrunners with a score of 94, but Jordan Allen and Susan Stanley’s Rainier sat hot on their heels just one point behind with a score of 93.
Back for round two as the last to go, Lenkart and Alisto faced stiff competition, as Allen and Rainer were awarded a second score of 94 to finish on a cumulative tally of 187, meaning the early leading pair needed at least 94 points to win. Not giving in to the pressure, Lenkart and Alisto gave a brilliant performance that earned them a 96 for a total score of 190 to secure the win in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by the Ingram family. Allen and Rainier finished in second overall, followed by Adam Edgar and Barbara Smith’s Justified with a final score of 173.
In addition to her ribbons and prize money, Lenkart was also honored with the first Platinum Performance Hunter Horse of the Week award of the circuit thanks to her top performances with Alisto. Adding to her success, Lenkart also finished in fourth overall aboard Mathews’ Captain America, who earned the Performance 3’3” Hunter division championship earlier in the week with Lenkart.
Throughout the weekend, champions were crowned in a series of hunter and equitation divisions. In the Rock Ridge Farm Children’s 14 and Under Hunter division, Gordon and Sloan Lindemann-Barnett’s Delightful rode to a commanding lead, winning more than half of the classes. With triple placings of first over fences, in addition to a second place result in the under saddle portion of competition, Gordon and Delightful pulled ahead of the pack as the clear victors to secure the Week I championship tricolor. Lillie Parr piloted Sunset Drive, owned by Pinecone Farm, LLC, to the reserve championship.
During Saturday’s Albion College Equestrian Equitation division for the 15- to 17-year-old age group, Michigan native Matthies displayed her exemplary form with three high-scoring performances aboard Barbara Smith’s Conto Blue. The duo were awarded first place over fences as well as under saddle, and earned a third place finish over fences ahead of a skilled field to secure the championship. With results of second and fifth place over fences, combined with another second place in the under saddle, Ashley Scofield claimed the reserve honors with her own Watermark.
In the Adult Amateur Over 35 Hunters, owner-rider Kirsch navigated Naples Bay to success in the division over two days of competition. Beginning Friday, the pair garnered a second place finish over fences, and then returned on Saturday to improve upon their earlier performance. Two final over fences rounds earned them results of first and second place, propelling them to the top of the leaderboard. Julia Szasz’ Eloquent, ridden by Terri Irrer, was awarded the reserve championship.
Hunter competition will continue throughout the 2019 GLEF with weekly national derby competitions, while World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week will take place during Week II from July 9–14. The $5,000 Outdoors USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Camping World and Gander Outdoors, will serve as the highlight hunter event of the week on Sunday afternoon.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Courtney Lenkart – $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by the Ingram family, winner
“Alisto is a 10-year-old Warmblood we imported last year in the spring. I campaigned him last year in the pre-green [division] and went to the [Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship]. He started showing with Lori [Mathews] in Wellington, Florida, this year. He has been doing the amateurs and First-Year Green Hunters with me.”
On her horses’ performances in the derby:
“[Alisto] was perfect. This was actually the only class we did on him this week. We are trying to save him. His mom, Lori, is in Africa right now and will be here for Week III, so I just wanted to show him in this class to get him going and maybe we will do it next week, as well. Four of our five [horses] made it back into the top 12. Our junior rider was great and got a great ribbon. Lori owns the other three horses. My husband showed one of them, [Adolphus,] who just started being a hunter last week. Alisto’s younger brother, Captain America, was fourth in the class.”
On the improvements at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival:
“They have done an unbelievable job. The footing is perfect in every single ring and down below the configuration is amazing, so there is room for everybody to ride. It’s great for showing and also for sales, as well as just to hack the horses. We absolutely love it here. It’s a family show. The horses and customers all love it.”
$5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by the Ingram family:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score / Total Score
1. Alisto / Courtney Lenkart / Lori Mathews / 94 / 96 / 190
2. Rainier / Jordan Allen / Susan Stanley / 93 / 94 / 187
3. Justified / Adam Edgar / Barbara Smith / 88 / 85 / 173
4. Captain America / Courtney Lenkart / Lori Mathews / 86 / 86 / 172
5. Greetings / Haley Hammer / Haley Hammer / 79 / 87 / 166
6. Blackcomb / Ashleen Lee / Alina Zappone / 82 / 82.5 / 164.5
7. Delightful / Abigail Gordon / Sloan Lindemann-Barnett / 83 / 81 / 164
8. Like Minded / Jacob Pope / Selma Garber / 89 / 74 / 163
9. Candid / Vivian Yowan / Jennifer Alfano / 90 / 69 / 159
10. Drommels / Emma Flett / Emma Flett / 76 / 81 / 157
11. Spellbound / Caroline Weeden / Stephanie Harris / 88.5 / 50 / 138.5
12. Adolphus / Scott Lenkart / Lori Mathews / 87 / 0 / 87
For more information, please visit greatlakesequestrianfestival.com.