Wellington, Fla. – March 30, 2017 – The final week of competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) saw professional hunter riders Kelley Farmer and Patricia Griffith each walk away with a division title under their belts. For some of the horses who campaigned on Thursday morning in the High Performance Working Hunters and High Performance Conformation Hunters, it was the ideal way to prepare for this weekend’s $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Equestrian Village’s Stadium Derby field.
Kelley Farmer took Derby Lane LLC’s Point Being around the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring one last time of the season to two first-place finishes over-fences, with scores of 86 and 85, respectively. ‘Aachen,’ as he is called in the barn, proved his rideability in the handy round, nabbing an 86 from the judging panel.
“He’s amazing,” said Vanessa Brown, co-owner of Aachen. “He’s the most sincere horse I’ve ever seen at his job. He wants to do it high, correct and scopey. You can’t ask for much more in a horse.”
“He is very, very sweet,” she continued. “He’s easy in the barn. He really likes people and he really likes food. He’s very easy to take care of.”
For Farmer and Aachen, earning the championship prize was a quintessential way to not only conclude their WEF circuit, but also to set them up for their showcase in the derby on Saturday and Sunday. The duo has had phenomenal success throughout the season in both the High Performance Hunters as well as hunter derbies. The 10-year-old gelding also showed with great success in the Large Junior Hunters with Taylor St. Jacques in the irons. Aachen seems to be in top form entering this weekend’s highlight event.
“He’s been great,” Brown explained. “He’s done a little bit of a mix between the High Performance and the Junior Hunters with success. He’s been trying on different hats this season.”
Clinching reserve champion honors behind Point Being was Expression Z, owned by Belhaven Stables LLC and ridden to victory by Tim Goguen. The 2010 Dutch Warmblood mare edged out the competition in the stake round, claiming the blue ribbon and a very respectable score of 87.
In the High Performance Conformation Hunters, Lexi Maounis’ Fetching was unstoppable with Patricia Griffith in the irons. Three blue ribbons over-fences separated Fetching from the rest of the pack, with two of those winning rounds both receiving scores of 88. In the model phase, Fetching’s build and kind expression impressed the judges to win the class.
“He’s cute as a button as you can see,” Griffith said. “Everybody always stops us and says how cute he is. He’s like a big pony.”
“He’s gotten so good and so mature,” she explained. “At the end of last year he was really coming into his own, and he won the stake class at the National Horse Show. I’ve shown him only four or five times here because he does have another job, but he was really fantastic this week.”
On the heels of Griffith and Fetching for the majority of the division was Kristy Herrera and As Promised, who took home the reserve champion ribbon in the High Performance Conformation Hunters. As Promised was awarded the hack prize prior to returning to the ring to lay down a winning trip that judges deemed worthy of an 84. The talented combination continued to shine in the handy round, missing the win by one point with an 87.
While Griffith will not be riding Fetching in the $50,000 International Hunter Derby this weekend, she will be amongst the 41 other riders in the class, riding her own mount, Clearline Z, in hopes of further success to wrap up the winter season on a high note. Farmer will also join Griffith in the class, riding three other mounts in addition to Point Being.
Hunter competition will resume on Friday morning in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring at 8 a.m. with the 3’3” Amateur-Owner 36+ Hunters. The first round of the $50,000 International Hunter Derby is set to start on Saturday at 12 p.m. following the jog inspection, while the handy round is expected to start on Sunday at 1 p.m.