Wayne, Ill. – July 27, 2018 – The highlight event of the day, the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, began bright and early Friday morning at the Lamplight Equestrian Center with a large field of exhibitors in the Main Hunter Arena. Although the competition was tight, it was Holly Shepherd aboard Micaela Kennedy’s 6-year-old gelding Jerez Mail who took the top honors of the class and well-deserved victory gallop around the scenic arena.
Shepherd and Jerez Mail, who had been named champions in the Green 3’6”/3’9” Hunter division the day before, impressed the judges early on with a score of 94 in their first round. They returned to the ring for their handy round to claim a score of 95, giving them their winning total 189 that would be unrivaled by other horse and rider combinations.
Jerez Mail, an Argentine gelding who had been competing in the Pre-Green Hunter division last year, blew away the competition as a 5-year-old. When his owner decided to move him up into the Green Hunter division, Shepherd was given the ride on him in April to assist in his climb up the ranks. The gelding stepped up to the plate in the showring earlier this season, racking up ribbons, taking home division championships and now claiming his first derby victory.
Shepherd also rode Loretta Patterson’s Triompf in the National Derby, earning a score of 92 in her first round aboard the gelding, and returning to the handy to receive a score of 94. The pair’s total of 186 landed them in second place. Dominating the top three placings, Shepherd rode the gelding Longstreet, owned by Barbara Risius, into third place. The combination was awarded a score of 87.5 in their first round and 91 in their second to give them a total of 178.5.
Competition at the 2018 Chicago Festival of the Horse will resume on Saturday, July 28, with this week’s highlight event, the $50,000 Prix de Lamplight set to kick off at 4 p.m. in the Grand Prix Arena.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Holly Shepherd – $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Winner
On Jerez Mail:
“He’s a 6-year-old Argentine, I rode him as a pre-green horse last year and he won a lot. They stepped him up this year and I started riding him in April. We did a couple horse shows in Kentucky and he was still trying a bit too hard and couldn’t quite put things together. We went to Vermont a few weeks ago and he just started winning and he’s like, ‘Now I know how to do it!’ He won all four of his first year classes this week. He’s been amazing. Super fun, super elastic, one of the best jumpers I’ve ever ridden. Very easy and brave.”
On her rounds:
“I couldn’t really fault him anywhere, he wasn’t too fresh. This horse is super consistent to ride. He doesn’t go to sleep, he doesn’t wake up, he just goes the way he goes. For me, it’s just a super comfortable ride. Sometimes I’m like, ‘where do I go next?’ because he’s just so dreamy he almost puts you to sleep! He’s a lot of fun.”