Temecula, Calif. – May 31, 2019 – Hunter competition took center stage at the Temecula Valley National Horse Show III, held at Galway Downs, on Friday afternoon when horse-and-rider combinations took to the Audi Grand Prix Arena, presented by Evergate Stables, to demonstrate their talents in the $10,000 Brookway Stables USHJA National Hunter Derby. Open to amateurs, professionals and juniors, the class saw a range of entries including up-and-coming younger horses and seasoned veterans. At the end of two rounds of competition, it was Kaitlin Campbell and 6-year-old Playmaker who walked away with top honors, besting the field after two skilled exhibitions.
Designed by Eric Mayberry, the classic round course featured 12 obstacles, three of which offered exhibitors high and low options. Though many of the derby horses had not yet competed in the main ring in front of the crowd, performances were strong and round one saw tight competition, where smooth trips gave way to high scores and close standings within the top 12. Headed into the second portion of riding, Campbell and SWS Training and Sales’ Playmaker sat atop the scorecard with a composite score of 87, earned from a base tally of 84 plus three extra points for successfully jumping the high options. With marks of 85, Maia Aerni and Magic Blue sat just two points behind the early frontrunners, and Gabriel Rodrigues aboard Colani claimed the third-best spot with a score of 82.
Following the conclusion of the classic round, 16 points separated the leader from twelfth position, and a mere eight points divided the top six pairs, putting even more pressure on the returning duos to turn in a second high-scoring effort and impress the panel of judges comprised of Mark Jungherr, Lyman T. Whitehead and Jay Mullen. Though only in its second year as an event, the Temecula Valley National Horse Show attracted the three esteemed judges, each of whom are well-known in their own right within the industry. All three gentlemen are highly-respected USEF “R” judges, and between them have judged at some of the most prestigious horse shows in the country, including the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, USEF Medal Finals, Washington International Horse Show, Capital Challenge and the Winter Equestrian Festival, in addition to successfully training and competing horses as well as managing competitions across the nation.
Down to only eight fences, Mayberry’s handy phase course allowed returning contestants a number of opportunities to shine and individualize their track, with four obstacles, half of the entire course, positioned as high-low option fences, in addition to a trot jump. Returning in reverse order of the standings as is customary, Nick Haness and Alexander Miller’s Crowd Pleaser took their second turn midway through the pack, improving upon their earlier score of 78 with marks of 90 to finish on a total 168-point score to claim the early lead, at that point the only pair to hit the 90-point benchmark. That status would not last long though, as Lisa Wall and Macy Dimson’s Tangled Up In Blue immediately earned the highest score yet of the afternoon, adding 93 points to their first round tally of 80 for a composite score of 173 with only a handful still on the docket to return. As competition continued with Wall and Tangled Up In Blue still holding first with only one combination left to ride, it all came down Campbell and Playmaker, the classic round highest-scoring team.
The final entry to take to the ring, Campbell and Playmaker rose to the challenge and laid down a stellar performance to outperform the rest of the pack, adding 85 points plus an additional four high-option points to their earlier score of 87, finishing the class as the victors with a cumulative 176 points to lead the lap of honor in the $10,000 Brookway Stables USHJA National Hunter Derby. Second place was awarded to Wall and Tangled Up In Blue, and third place went to Haness and Crowd Pleaser.
Hunter competition at the Temecula Valley National Horse Show III gets back underway Saturday, when amateurs and juniors look to ride to their respective winning ribbons.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Kaitlin Campbell – $10,000 Brookway Stables USHJA National Hunter Derby winner
“He really stepped up to the plate tonight. This is the first time the hunters have gone in the grand prix ring and it was a really nice experience for the young horses and the kids. He jumped fantastic. A lot of horses got a little spooky in the first round, but he held it together and was great. He was third in the derby last week and he jumped really well out in the grass, so I was hoping for a nice placing again and just getting him in here with the bigger ring and more atmosphere. I have a feeling he is going to get sold pretty quickly after this week and he is going to make someone a really great, top horse. I think he will be a really great First Year horse next year, so he can do the Green Incentive classes this year.”
On the courses:
“The first course, there were really no lines except the in-and-out. I get really nervous in the hunters about having to find all my distances, so I was pretty nervous about having to find everything, but it was a nice twisty-turny course and the horses really had to follow you out there because not everything was on the normal angle that you would have in a normal hunter course. They had to respect the leads and the lead changes, so that was probably the hardest part in the first round. The handy was nice, there were a few inside turns you could do. I didn’t do every turn because I came back leading so I didn’t want to do something too much and then mess it up. The first round was 12 jumps and that felt like a long time, so after the 12 jumps the eight jumps in the second round felt like a really nice number. There were still enough tests and all the high options were very nice options to take. It worked out nicely.”
$10,000 Brookway Stables USHJA National Hunter Derby
Place / Horse / Rider / R1 Score / R2 Score / Total
1. Playmaker / Kaitlin Campbell / 87 / 89 / 176
2. Tangled Up In Blue / Lisa Wall / 80 / 93 / 173
3. Crowd Pleaser / Nick Haness / 78 / 90 / 168
4. Colani / Gabriel Rodrigues / 82 / 84.5 / 166.5
5. Casalino / Clea Caddell / 79 / 87 / 166
6. Calesco / Amanda Gomez / 75 / 85 / 160
7. Magic Blue / Maia Aerni / 85 / 74 / 159
8. Cornelensky / Clea Caddell / 81 / 73 / 154
9. Dillard 14 / Olivia Schneider / 71 / 81 / 152
10. Chaccolina / Brooke Buchanan / 74.5 / 68 / 142.5
11. Pecora / Devynn Sibley / 74 / 48 / 122
12. Rolo / Ariya Nathu / 72.5 / 38 / 110.50
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