Wellington, Fla. – Mar. 7, 2020 – For Week Nine of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), hunter riders made their way to the Adequan Global Dressage facility to compete in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby on the grass derby field. A total of 91 horse-and-rider combinations, featuring professional, junior and amateur competitors, took to the field in an effort to demonstrate their skills to a panel of judges to see who would best their respective sections. Judges invited back the top 12 of each section for the second handy round over a shortened course. In the end, it was Havens Schatt aboard Meredith Mateo’s Highlander that claimed the win in the professional section, with Anneliese Kolaska riding her own Herr Drosselmeyer clinching the win in the junior/amateur section.
In the first round, course designer Andy Christiansen (ECU) constructed a forward flowing course for riders to showcase their horses’ skills across the expansive derby field. Riders had the choice to jump four high-option fences to boost their base scores on the 11-obstacle track. After the judges narrowed the field of competitors, the top 24 riders returned to a shortened course where their skills were tested against a 9-obstacle handy track that included four high-options, a trot fence and different opportunities to showcase their mounts’ handiness.
Schatt bested the field of 48 horse-and-rider combinations to win the professional section of the class. Aboard her mount Highlander, Schatt had an impressive first round, scoring a 92.5 from the judges that set her to return for the handy in the fourth spot. With only 1.5 points between her and the leader, Schatt came back determined to fight for that top spot. She produced a beautiful second round scoring 93 points, earning the pair a total of 185.5 points to win the blue ribbon. Additionally, Schatt piloted Mostly Sunny to a sixth-place finish in the class. Highlander, a 9-year-old Zangersheide gelding owned by Meredith Mateo, is a fairly new mount for Schatt as he just recently arrived after a stint competing on the West Coast. The duo also won the National Hunter Derby during Week Seven of WEF.
Second place in the professional section was awarded to Geoffrey Hesslink riding Luminosity, an 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Sabrina Hellman, with a total of 185 points awarded across the two rounds. Keri Kampsen aboard her own mount Ocean Road, a 7-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, clinched the third spot with a score of 182.5 points awarded by the judges.
The junior/amateur section saw 43 horse-and-rider duos, which Kolaska was able to best for the top placing. After a first round that dazzled the judges, the pair of Kolaska and Herr Drosselmeyer was awarded a score of 87 points. Returning in third after round one, Kolaska proved to be victorious after a stunning second round score of 90 points, added to their first round score to a total overall score of 177 points that gained them the top spot in the class. Herr Drosselmeyer is a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Kolaska. Originally purchased as her equitation mount, Herr Drosselmeyer has also become Kolaska’s hunter mount. She competed in the Junior Hunter divisions and just recently started competing in the Amateur-Owner Hunters in 2019.
Sterling Malnik and Charlie, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by the Singh Family Farms LLC, finished second in the junior/amateur section with a total score of 173 points. Rounding out the top three in this section was Sydney Degrazia aboard her own horse Cadmo Van De Pluum, a 13-year-old Warmblood gelding, with a total of 171.5 points across the two rounds.
Week Nine of WEF will conclude Sunday with the last batch of weekly hunter champions crowned.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Havens Schatt – $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Pro winner
On her rounds:
“As you know, [Highlander] is new to me, so I wasn’t sure how he would react putting him in this big field. This past week I competed with him in the Performance 3’6’’ Hunters, which is the first time that he has gone in the main hunter arena with me. They sent me a video of him showing in California in a big grass field so I had a feeling that he would be really good. He was! He went in the first round and was taking a look at the barrels, but he never acted on anything and he was a true professional that he is showing himself to be since I’ve had him.”
On her plan going into the handy:
“I just wanted to be as smooth as I could. These classes are funny because with the people coming behind you, I really just wanted to have a solid round and get a top five finish, hopefully. The ones that were ahead of me are always solid riders and horses so I didn’t really have any huge plan to try and climb the leaderboard. I just wanted to give [Highlander] a nice solid round and see what happened. I was quite surprised that I won! His round was good but the ones ahead of me all had little mistakes so it was my lucky day.”
On her plans with Highlander:
“This horse is for sale, so I go day by day. Our main goal is to get him sold for [Meredith Mateo]. Everything that I have asked him to do so far, he has won. I should ride that streak as long as I can! That’s what the jumper riders say, when you’re on a roll you keep it rolling! But I think for the hunters it’s a little bit different. I probably will give him a bit of time off, and he has some trials lined up. Then we will get him geared back up for Week Twelve and we will decide if I do a national derby with him again or try to do one of the international derbies.”
Anneliese Kolaska – $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Jr/Am winner
On Herr Drosselmeyer:
“His name is Fritz and I have had him for about three years. I got him to be my equitation horse when I was a junior. We were looking for something that I could also do the hunters on and keep after I aged out of the equitation. He is perfect. He is such a nice ride. He loves the derbies, that is his thing. I have done some international derbies on him. He was champion at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in 2018 in the junior hunter 3’3’’ division. I got him for the equitation so that I could jump around and say that I did it, but the hunters are definitely his thing.”
On her rounds:
“I had another horse in the class, [Caesar Augustus,] and that was his first time jumping on grass. I have had him for about 5 years but we had an unfortunate rail at the fourth fence. My first round on [Herr Drosselmeyer] I just went in wanting to have a nice smooth round and hoping to make the second round. He ended up with an 87 in the first round which was really solid. In my handy round, I was considering playing it safe but I figured because I was in third I was going to go all out and it paid off.”
On future plans with Herr Drosselmeyer:
“I am hoping to take him to International Derby Finals next year.”
$10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Pro
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Total Score
1. Highlander / Havens Schatt / Meredith Mateo / 185.5
2. Luminosity / Geoffrey Hesslink / Sabrina Hellman / 185
3. Ocean Road / Keri Kampsen / Keri Kampsen / 182.5
4. Dandan / Molly Sewell / Lucky Dey Farm / 181.5
5. Monterrey / Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen / Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen / 181
6. Mostly Sunny / Havens Schatt / Caroline Moran / 180
7. St Tropez / Keri Kampsen / Laura Cramer / 179.75
8. Inclusion / Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen / Chris Jansen / 176.5
9. Sebastian / Tiffany Morrissey / Stacey Shore Werner / 173.5
10. Sugarman / Jennifer Bliss / Harris Hill Farm, LLC. / 165.5
11. Face The Music / Jennifer Bliss / Harris Hill Farm, LLC. / 165
12. Avatar Z / Victoria Colvin / William Lyles / 158
$10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Jr/Am
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Total Score
1. Herr Drosselmeyer / Anneliese Kolaska / Anneliese Kolaska / 177
2. Charlie / Sterling Malnik / Singh Family Farms LLC / 173
3. Cadmo Van De Pluum / Sydney Degrazia / Sydney Degrazia / 171.5
4. Golden / Christian Dominguez / David Oliynyk / 171
5. Geneva / Lea Rucker / Lea Rucker / 170
6. Conway / Michael Baum / Camille Branca / 169.5
7. Concord / Lindsay Mutschler / Lindsay Mutschler / 167.5
8. Christopher / Anna Foster / Anna Foster / 165.5
9. Hip Hop VDL / Nicholas Pongracz / Karen Soper / 164
10. Cornado / Alexandra Sharpp / Alexandra Sharpp / 162
11. Coronation / Sterling Malnik / Sterling Malnik / 161
12. Dia Caspar / Rebecca Patterson / Rebecca Patterson / 139.5