Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 1, 2019 – Hunter competition was highlighted during the fourth week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) on Friday afternoon with the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby “Hunt and Go” taking center stage in the International Arena. Following the completion of more than 50 trips, Jennifer Hannan and the famed Mindful, owned by Kensel LLC, emerged victorious and led the victory gallop around the International Arena followed by Victoria Colvin and Meralex Farm Inc.’s El Primero who finished up in second place and Liza Boyd aboard Maggie Hill’s Tradition who earned the third place ribbon.
Despite a cloudy forecast with scattered bouts of rain, the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby attracted numerous top junior, amateur and professional hunter riders. The class featured a “Hunt and Go” format, which is a fairly new addition to WEF and includes one round of competition, similar to jumper power and speed classes, eliminating the need to return for a separate handy round. Rather than the top 12 pairs being called back following their classic rounds, riders simply continued into the handy portion of their course immediately without pausing or leaving the arena.
Set by course designer Andy Christiansen, the track featured a total of 14 fences, with the first eight fences counting as the traditional classic round and the remaining five as the handy phase. Four high-option fences were offered for those willing to take on an added challenge, and each high-option racked up one additional point. Riders also had another choice to make in the handy round from fences 12 to 13 (five verticals side-by-side on a zig-zag set at the far end of the ring) depending on whether they wanted to execute a wider rollback or a more challenging inside turn.
The judging panel gave individual scores for both sections of the course for each horse-and-rider pair, which were then combined into a cumulative score to determine the final placings.
As the eighth combination in the ring, Jennifer Bauersachs and Meritage Stables LLC’s Another Love took an early lead in the class after earning a score of 175 in the classic round and a mark on the judges’ cards of 172 in the handy for a total of 347. Their position at the top of the leaderboard was short-lived, however, after Colvin piloted her new mount, El Primero, to scores of 171.75 and 183 for a total of 354.75 to slide into the first place position.
Yet Hannan and Mindful, who was her third entry in the class, took over Colvin’s lead and made the score to beat an impressive 358.75 after accumulating a 178.75 in the classic phase followed by a 180 in the handy round. Hannan decided to try her hand at the high-options with Mindful as well as make a tight rollback off of the left lead from fences 12 to 13 in the handy, which paid off.
Boyd aboard Tradition and Peter Pletcher riding Spruce Meadows Ltd.’s Quintessential would later bump Bauersachs out of the top three after earning combined scores of 354.25 and 350, respectively. However, those scores, as well as those for the remainder of the class, were not enough to edge Hannan and Mindful out of the top spot.
Hannan is the owner and operator of Ocean Echo Farm based in Wakefield, Rhode Island, and Wellington, Florida. Hannan had an extensive junior career in all three rings and has continued her success as a professional who rides and trains since taking over the family business.
An icon in the hunter and hunter derby rings praised for his countless wins, Mindful is a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding that Hannan got the ride on almost two years ago. Some of the notable achievements Mindful is most known for are being crowned The Chronicle of the Horse’s Show Hunter of the Year in 2015 alongside hunter greats Rumba, Brunello, Catch Me and Private Life as well as the USHJA World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Hunter of the Year, also in 2015. In addition, Mindful won the Grand Hunter Championship in 2014 at the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) as well as the Grand Hunter Championship at the Devon Horse Show with former rider Kelley Farmer in 2015.
His claim to fame in the hunters began in 2013 with rider Callie Schott before he was purchased by Ken and Selma Garber with Lane Change Farm trainer Larry Glefke. Under Glefke’s guidance, Farmer navigated the gelding to multiple tricolors in the High Performance Hunter and High Performance Conformation Hunter divisions.
Looking ahead for the rest of the season, Hannan plans to show Mindful during the sixth week of WEF, which is WCHR week, as well as at the Deeridge Derby. Finally, the pair will wrap-up their season during the twelfth and final week of WEF as they compete in in the highly anticipated $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Jennifer Hannan – $15,000 USHJA International Derby “Hunt and Go” winner
On coming back from an injury:
“It feels pretty awesome because I’ve been out for a long time. I was out all summer. I just really started riding again in December. I was out with an injury — I broke my heel in May off of a horse so I wasn’t able to do anything actually since my last derby [with Mindful]. This is my first one back. He’s a superstar. All my horses went really well today.”
On her partnership with Mindful:
“He’s truly amazing and he’s a superstar. He’s a show horse. He wants to win every time so it’s really a privilege and an honor to ride him. I have had him for two years this spring.”
On Friday’s course:
“It was great. I thought they did a really nice job. It asked a lot of questions and it was, I thought, a bit of a challenge more so than last year.”
On her plan:
“When I walked the course, I said, ‘I am not jumping the high-options,’ because it was my first outing. I had some younger, more inexperienced horses at the beginning [of the class] so I was kind of able to get my feet wet. Then, as the class went on, I was like, ‘Come on, let’s just go.’ I made the choice right before I went in. He’s better off of his left lead so I wanted to jump both jumps (12 and 13) and rollback left. I actually had to add leg a little bit. I had anticipated jumping the one all the way to the right and then jumping the one in the middle, but I turned back so tight, I ended up one more over than I thought.”
On the “Hunt and Go” format:
“I really like it. I think it’s nice because it gives you a little time to thaw out and let your horse sort of digest the course. It’s really nice. Plus, it’s not a whole other round for the horses.”
On the rest of the circuit:
“We’ll show him Week Six and then we’ll aim for the Deeridge Derby and the final derby here. He’s a little older so we try and just be mindful of how much we use him. We really just let him do the big shows and have his vacation time in between. He doesn’t owe us anything.”
$15,000 USHJA International Derby “Hunt and Go”:
Place / Rider / Horse / R1 Score / R2 Score / Total
1. Jennifer Hannan / Mindful / Kensel LLC / 178.75 / 180 / 358.75
2. Victoria Colvin / El Primero / Meralex Farm Inc. / 171.75 / 183 / 354.75
3. Elizabeth Boyd / Tradition / Maggie Hill / 175.75 / 178.5 / 354.25
4. Peter Pletcher / Quintessential / Spruce Meadow Ltd. / 173 / 177 / 350
5. Kelley Farmer / Consent / Kent Farrington / 178.5 / 169.5 / 348
6. Jennifer Bauersachs / Another Love / Meritage Stables LLC / 175 / 172 / 347
7. Amy Momrow / Aeroplane / Melissa Wight / 169.5 / 174 / 343.5
8. Christopher Payne / Fibonacci / Still Water Farm LLC / 174.5 / 164.5 / 339
9. Jennifer Hannan / Best Regards / Patricia Fulchino / 167 / 171 / 338
10. Holly Orlando / True Story / Cathy Zicherman / 177 / 161 / 338
11. Holly Orlando / Whisper / Privet Farm LLC / 175.75 / 160.25 / 336
12. Havens Schatt / Mostly Sunny / 171.5 / 162 / 333.5