East Dorset, Vt. – Aug. 3, 2018 – Jennifer Ritucci of Wrentham, MA, won the $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Eastern Hay, on Thursday, August 2, at the 25th annual, six-week Vermont Summer Festival, which continues through August 12 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Twenty-nine entries contested the first-round course set by Tom Hern, and following the conclusion of the opening round, Ritucci and her mount Quidam’s Reveal, owned by Shadow Creek NY LLC, sat in fourth place with a score of 84. A second-round high score of 88, however, would catapult the pair to the top of the leaderboard with a total score of 172.
Kristen Bumpus of Concord, MA, rode Carington, owned by Cassie Gerrity, to scores of 83 and 87 to finish second on a total score of 170. Rounding out the top three with scores of 86 and 83 for a 169 total were Melissa Deryn Foster and Aubergine, owned by Lindsey Phipps. Foster’s third-place finish also made her the top-placing junior rider. The top amateur honor went to Rindy Dominguez of Barrington, RI, who finished in eighth riding her own MTM Casablanca.
For Ritucci, the win carried special significance, as she rode in honor of Vanessa Lencewicz, who was the road manager for Saddle Rowe, the Medway, MA, barn where Ritucci and her husband, D.J. Volandre, train. Lencewicz sadly passed away unexpectedly on July 28.
“Vanessa always went to the derby ring with Jen and was always supporting her,” said Volandre as Ritucci fought back tears.
“I asked her for her help before the second round today,” added Ritucci. “I really think she helped me.”
The memorable victory for Ritucci and Quidam’s Reveal marked Ritucci’s third hunter derby aboard the nine-year-old bay Selle Francais gelding, also ridden in the Children’s Hunters by Ava and Sophia Carbone.
“He’s new to the family, and he’s just awesome,” said Ritucci. “He’s got a lot of swagger. He’s very cocky, which makes him awesome at his job. He’s just really fun in the barn.”
Week five of the Vermont Summer Festival marks Ritucci’s third week competing at the show this year, and it’s always a highlight for all of the riders at Saddle Rowe.
“We’ve been coming here since we were kids,” said Ritucci, 36. “We love it; all of our customers love it. We’re looking forward to coming back for sure. The in-gate people are awesome; the office people are awesome. I think they’ve done a really great job improving all of the footing and maintaining the rings. We have a lot of horses here, and everybody’s been really accommodating to us. It’s done at a reasonable hour. It’s a beautiful town. The restaurants are great; the people are great; it’s fun!”
Competition continues at the Vermont Summer Festival with the $30,000 Manchester & the Mountains Grand Prix, presented by Purina Horse Feed, beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 4.
$5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Eastern Hay
Rider / Hometown / Horse / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total Score
1. Jennifer Ritucci / Wrentham, MA / Quidam’s Reveal / 84 / 88 | 172
2. Kristen Bumpus / Concord, MA / Carington / 83 / 87 | 170
3. Melissa Deryn Foster / Caledon, ON / Aubergine / 86 / 83 | 169
4. Heather Hays / North Salem, NY / Stellar / 85 / 82 | 167
5. Kristen Bumpus / Concord, MA / Trendsetter / 80 / 86 | 166
6. Melissa Deryn Foster / Caledon, ON / Cascada / 83.5 / 81 | 164.5
7. Shane Powell / Sterling, MA / Soltiste / 80.5 / 82.5 | 163
8. Rindy Dominguez / Barrington, RI / MTM Casablanca / 81 / 78 | 159
9. Alexandra Sharp / Barrington, RI / Cornando / 81.5 / 70 | 151.5
10. Christian Dominguez / Barrington, RI / Renaissance Man / 78 / 66 | 144
11. Shachine Belle / Farmington, CT / Tignanello / 88 / 55 | 143
12. Linda Orton / Stamford, VT / Demi / 82 / 0 | 82