Wellington. Fla. – Feb. 22, 2019 – Hunter competition during Week Seven of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) saw the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby take place Friday morning in Rings 11 and 12, which were combined to create one large ring to allow ample space for competitors to show off their horses’ abilities. Professionals, juniors and amateurs all competed over the same track but were pinned as two separate classes.
A large, competitive field of 80 contested the first round, an 11-obstacle course that offered four high-option fences throughout and opportunities to utilize a forward pace as they cantered around the expansive ring. The second round, the handy, brought back 24 riders, the top 12 from each section, and presented them with a shortened, eight-obstacle course that included a trot fence and two high-option fences.
The early birds truly got the worm today, as pathfinder Jeff Gogul, who went fifth in the order, came out on top in the professional section. With only one ride in the class, he had a long wait before coming back to lay down his winning handy round. Gogul rode Counselor, a 9-year-old gelding owned by Roaring Brook LLC, to the win, while Meredith Gallagher rode Rebel De Viszy, owned by Annette Friend, to the reserve title in the professional section.
Gogul’s first round score of 92 put him in the early lead, while his handy score of 91, for a total tally of 183, gave him a three and a half-point win over Gallagher, who came into the handy round sitting in ninth place with a first round score of 86.5. A few short distances and difficulties at scattered fences from other combinations in the handy allowed Gallagher to move considerably up the leaderboard after laying down a beautiful trip to earn a score of 93 for second place overall with a total score of 179.5. Third place in the professional section went to Caemlyn Z and Havens Schatt, who finished on a total score of 174.
Jackie MacDonald piloted Chalk Hill, a 12-year-old gelding owned by Jennifer MacDonald, to the win in the junior/amateur section. MacDonald went fourth in the order and spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon competing Chalk Hill in the junior hunters and another mount in the equitation. Her first round score of 87 put her in second place coming back in the handy, and she zoned in on her ride to score an 84 to make a winning total of 171.
Kristen Simmons rode her own Curb Appeal to the reserve placing in the junior/amateur section. Simmons was in the lead after her solid first round, where she scored a 90, and her handy score of 79 gave her a total of 169, just two points behind MacDonald’s winning score. Third place went to Trendsetter and Hannah Loeffelbein with a total score of 167.
Hunter derby competition comes to an exciting end at WEF during Week Twelve, which will feature a $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Jeff Gogul – $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby winner (professional section)
On his experience with Counselor:
“We got Counselor at the end of this past summer for Abby Wagner, who has shown him a few times in the adults and the 3’3” amateur-owners. We did a couple of shows with him at 3’3” last year and then moved him into the 3’6”. I think he only competed one time at home [at the World Equestrian Center] before coming down here to Wellington but he’s really brave and fun to ride down a jump. He did a few national derbies up at the World Equestrian Center and in Kentucky, where he was second in the Altech Arena. I know I can trust him and believe in him. This was a fun course to ride around because it is such a wide open space with the two rings combined.”
On his rounds today:
“He rode beautifully in the first round. His stride was really open and the jumps came up great. I didn’t really have to make any adjustments anywhere in the first round. In the second round, with the heat, he was a little deflated in the schooling ring so I had to work for it a little more and help him out. The first round felt effortless and this time I had to ride with a little more leg and coax him around a little bit more, but he still rose to the occasion. He was great to the trot jump, I never have to worry about that.”
“When we got him, we were a little taken aback because he was a little edgy in the grooming stall. Everything else about him was really easy going. He was just a little undone in the grooming stall. Now that he’s settled in and understands his routine, he’s gotten better. We never hand feed him treats because he would get a little too much in your face but other than that he’s very polite, has a happy personality and comes out the same every time.”
Jackie MacDonald – $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby winner (junior/amateur section)
On Chalk Hill:
“The horse I rode is Chalk Hill, his barn name is Bauer and we leased him for two years before buying him at the end of the second year. He was originally my sister’s hunter but she went to college so now I get to ride him. He is like a teddy bear in the barn, he can make friends with anybody who passes by his stall.”
On her rounds:
“I went fourth in the first round, then he went back to the stalls and we came back up later on to do the handy. It was a little bit of a messy day as I was doing junior hunters as well as some equitation but it all worked out in the end. In the first round, I think I laid down a pretty solid round. Bauer was perfect, and I did a lot of preparation yesterday for this class. I usually go back and forth in the week from WEF to Massachusetts but this week I was down all week so that helped a lot with our preparation for the class. The course felt long but I had a lot of fun because of the combined pony rings and the open space. I really love doing handy rounds, especially on Bauer, he is my favorite to do them on. I had a lot of fun in the second round, I was a little more on my toes but I just tried to ride the same way and I think I did so it paid off. I will keep doing junior hunters this WEF, and as many derbies as I can get in.”
$10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Professional Section
Place / Horse / Athlete / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score / Total Score
1.Counselor / Jeff Gogul / Roaring Brook LLC / 92 / 91 / 183
2.Rebel De Vizy / Meredith Gallagher / Anette Friend / 86.5 / 93 / 179.5
3.Caemlyn Z / Havens Schatt / Julia McNerney / 91 / 83 / 174
4.Generous / David Oliynyk / Lori Gaudet / 87 / 86 / 173
5.United Colors / Heather Caristo Williams / Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Caristo / 85 / 86 / 171
6.Carson / Nikko Ritter / Kathryn Haefner LLC / 87.5 / 83 / 170.5
7.Durant / Colin Syquia / Eurasia INC. / 85.5 84 / 169.5
8.Elementary / Elizabeth Towell Boyd / Blakely Ansley / 88 / 81 / 169
9. Huckleberry Finn / Joyce Mersereau / Anne Keesler / 86 / 82 / 168
10.Sandro Sky / Katherine Newaman / Kristen Schuler / 88.5 / 70 / 158.5
11.True Blue / Caitlin Venezia / Jennifer Combs / 90 / 51 / 141
12.Capitalist / Elizabeth Towell Boyd / Aubrey Hill Equestrian / 89 / 49 / 138
$10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Junior/Amateur Section
Place / Horse / Athlete / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score / Total Score
1.Chalk Hill / Jackie MacDonald / Jennifer MacDonald / 87 / 84 / 171
2.Curb Appael / Kristen Simmons / Kristen Simmons / 90 / 79 / 169
3.Trendsetter / Hannah Loeffelbein / Two Point Equestrian LLC / 79 / 88 / 167
4.Chapeau / Kathy Serio / Kathy Serio / 84 / 80 / 164
5.Cassino / Josephine Rose / Joey Rose LLC / 85 / 78 / 163
6.Svante / Miles Holman / Jack White / 78 / 84 / 162
7.Eleventh Hour / Meredith Lipke / Meredith Lipke / 83 / 75 / 158
8.Calvaro / Kat Fuqua / Kat Fuqua / 79.5 / 72 / 151.5
9.MTM Mr Grace / Britta Belline / Britta Belline / 82 / 61 / 143
10.Perseus YC / Dominic Gibbs / Erin Gibbs / 88 / 52 / 140
11.Casual Water / Hayley Iannotti / Anette Friend / 78.5 / 60 / 138.5
12.Cracker Jack / Josephine Rose / Joey Rose LLC / 89 / 23 / 112