Wellington, Fla. – March 31, 2019 – On the final day of the 12-week long Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), Victoria Covlin and Meralex Farm Inc.’s El Primero closed out the circuit strong with yet another win, claiming the championship ribbon in the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. After jumping to the top spot in the classic round Saturday morning, the pair maintained their lead to finish with an impressive 402 point total Sunday afternoon to take the win.
In addition to their regular success in the High Performance Hunter division, Colvin and El Primero have made themselves a strong pair in international derbies after winning the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Deeridge Farm’s Deeridge Derby Weekend earlier in March ahead of 42 pairs. Prior to that, the pair finished up in second place in the $15,000 USHJA International Derby “Hunt and Go” during Week Four of WEF.
Saturday morning’s opening round challenged 34 horse-and-rider pairs, but the field was narrowed down to the top 25 combinations who were invited back in reverse order for the handy round on Sunday. The two judging panels consisted of Danny Robertshaw and Robert Crandall as well as Scott Williamson and Rob Bielefeld.
In the initial round, Colvin and the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding jumped all four high-options and received base scores of 94 and 88 for a total of 190 points. On the heels of Colvin and El Primero was fellow professional Kelley Farmer aboard Consent, owned by Larry Glefke and Kent Farrington, LLC. Farmer boasted a total of 184 points to secure the second place position going into the final round. Sitting in the third place position heading into Sunday with a total of 180 points was Jennifer Hannan in the irons aboard Mindful, owned by Kensel, LLC.
Sunday afternoon’s handy round was designed by Ken Krome and challenged entrants with 10 fences including three high-options and a trot jump. As the thirteenth pair on course, Patricia Griffith piloted Callie Seaman’s Diamante to a stellar round to put the pair at the top of the leaderboard with a second round score of 201 points after earning two base scores of 88 as well as 6 points for high-options and a total of 19 points for handiness from the judging panel.
Ultimately, Griffith finished with a total of 369 points after both rounds, but Havens Schatt bumped Griffith out of the lead after her ride on Caroline Moran’s Mostly Sunny, achieving base scores of 87 and 86 in the handy round including 6 points for high-options and 16 points for handiness for a cumulative score of 369.5. Jacob Pope immediately took over the new lead from Schatt one trip later, laying down another impressive trip scoring base scores of 89 and 87.5, 6 high-options points and 18 points for handiness for a final total of 375 with Forget Me Not Farm’s Unbelievable.
Liza Boyd galloped Maggie Hill’s Tradition into the Stadium Derby Field next and her performance overtook the lead with base scores of 85.5 and 87 after the pair navigated all three high-options to earn a total of 196.5 to include 18 points for handiness, receiving a cumulative score of 376.5 points. Returning second-to-last, Farmer and Consent were able to repeat their top performance from Saturday afternoon and secured base scores of 90 and 89 for a total of 201 points after earning 6 points for high-options and 16 handy bonus points to end the day on a final score of 385. However, Farmer’s impressive scores would soon be overtaken by Saturday’s leading rider.
No stranger to pressure, Colvin demonstrated a near-perfect handy round with El Primero, jumping all three high-options and impressing the judges to earn 19 handy bonus points and base scores of 92 and 95 to finish with a total of 212 points, which would combine with Saturday’s score of 190 to finish up with 402 cumulative points and secure the championship honors. In 2015, Colvin also won this class as a junior aboard Heritage Farm’s Vaillero, but Sunday’s victory on El Primero signified her first win in this derby as a professional.
Colvin’s win was especially impressive as she has only had the ride on El Primero for a few months. The partnership began at the start of this year’s WEF, but Colvin’s talent paired with advice from the gelding’s former rider Louise Serio have led to immense success. Colvin also attributes her winning streak to the gelding’s willingness to try every time he enters the ring as well as his quiet and straightforward demeanor.
With the completion of WEF, Colvin is looking forward to having El Primero join her string of horses on the road as she competes at top shows throughout the spring and summer including the Aiken Spring Classic, Devon, Upperville and Kentucky, among others.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Victoria Colvin – $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby winner
On El Primero:
“I’ve been riding him for just the weeks during WEF, so a couple of months. I don’t know him that well, but he’s super easy so it’s not too hard. Louise Serio who rode him before gives me a lot of direction with him and tells me how to ride him and how to make him go his best. I have to give the credit to her. He’s the easiest horse. I basically just show him, Peggy Gehman works him and exercise him every day, but he never spooks. Every round I’ve had he just goes in there and does his best, and he tries to never do anything wrong. Makes me job easy, I like it, it’s nice!”
On her plan for the handy round:
“Everybody in the top 10 were all amazing so I had to go in and just go for it and hope for the best. I was a little worried that I might have the rail at the grey vertical because everybody was hitting that one, but everybody was amazing so I just had to go for the win and hope it all goes well.”
On her win:
“It means a lot, and for [El Primero] to come off of Deeridge where he did great and to come out here on the grass, I think he really likes the grass, to come out here and do well in the same season is great.”
On her upcoming schedule:
“Well all of the Ingram’s horses will go to Aiken, then to Devon and then Upperville, and El Primero and Brian Baldwin’s horses I think are going to come on the road a bit and go where we go. They base off the schedule for the Ingram’s; So for now we’re off to Aiken, Devon, and Upperville.”
Kelly Farmer – $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby second place
“Deeridge was his first class out on the grass. We have grass at our farm, both in Kentucky and here [in Wellington]. My horses are used the grass which is the nice part. He’s seven-years-old, he’s a first year horse, but he tries to win every time. He’s a great horse, he was circuit champion, champion during WCHR week, he tries to win every time. He is not nearly as seasoned as the top group. But he doesn’t ever let you down. He tries to do it. I know if I had any chance of catching [Victoria Colvin] then I couldn’t be conservative by any means. I couldn’t ask him to be any better.”
On Consent being a first-year horse:
“For the most part he’s quite easy and straightforward and really direct. If anything maybe sometimes he’ll jump up too high. He was so good yesterday that there wasn’t really any worry. I skipped Friday with him, I think it was a good idea, he come out fresh yesterday. The only thing is, we own [Consent] with Kent [Farrington], and he was second last night and I had to tell him that he was second today! I couldn’t ask [Consent] to be any better.”
On riding Consent:
“He tries hard every time. The week before Capital Challenge was his first show in North America. He did one week at Capital Challenge and then went right into first year divisions. From the first show he has given me 110%. He’s a quiet horse, you see I ride him in a rubber snaffle with a stick and spurs. Like I said, if anything, sometimes, which is a great fault, sometimes he will jump up too high. He loved it out here, he was fantastic. He’s so funny, he might be the sweetest horse I’ve ever had. He is a complete puppy dog. He would sit in your lap if he could and will always put his head on your shoulder! He is the sweetest horse I’ve ever had, he’s a doll.”
On owning Consent with Kent Farrington:
“Kent found him and we’ve owned site a few horses with Kent. We’ve partnered with him on a number of horses and if he finds a hunter we usually buy it together whether he finds it or I find it; 90% of the time they’re in Europe, so we’ve partnered on a number of horses and they come to us and we show them to sell. [Consent’s] barn name is actually Kent, and we always joke because I own horses with Darragh Kenny and other people, and we have so many sales horses that it’s easier to call them by the names of their owners. I had actually never called one Kent until [Consent]. It’s a great business relationship, Kent rode horses for Larry [Glefke] when he was a kid in Chicago so we’ve known him forever and he has a beautiful eye for a horse, whether it be for himself or hunters to sell. He’s really good about if we sell immediately or like [Consent], this one has shown a little bit and he really likes when I call and tell him that he’s circuit champion. Today I called him and said, ‘Sorry, he was second!’ and he said, ‘Yeah that’s kind of how this week is going.’ I can’t complain.”
Liza Boyd – $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby third place
“He did win Friday, because [Tori] and [Kelley] didn’t show! He went great, this is his third time being third in a really big class. He’s just always there for me and steps up to the plate. He’s a good horse, and he’s good for Maggie Hill in the junior hunters. I think all three of us asked our horses to peak at the right time. I think that was a little bit a part of my plan too. I showed him a couple of weeks ago in the high performance and tried a new bit. So maybe you sacrifice winning the high performance class to train them a little bit and ask them to peak here.”
On deciding which horse to compete:
“I think when it’s a [$50,000 class] we’re all going to come out, it’s not like the grand prix classes where they have 12 of them, we bring out our best horses for this class. I have to say, if it wasn’t for Maggie Hill I don’t know that I would’ve shown today. It’s week 12 so I was tired, I had an ulcer I was dealing with, and I said I don’t know if I have it in me this week. Maggie said ‘No come on, we’re doing O’Ryan and Tradition, let’s do it!’ She has more stamina than anyone here. So I have to thank Maggie because I’m really glad we showed, and she did great on O’Ryan and she’s a really good kid. She’s stepping up and she’s a really good kid to let me finish Tradition, we just started him doing the derbies the week before Derby Finals and she’s a good kid to let me keep doing it.”
$50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. El Primero / Victoria Colvin / Meralex Farm / 190 / 212 | 402
2. Consent / Kelley Farmer / Larry Glefke and Kent Farrington LLC / 184 / 201 | 385
3. Tradition / Elizabeth Towell Boyd / Maggie Hill / 180 / 196.5 | 376.5
4. Unbelievable / Jacob Pope / Forget Me Not Farm / 174.5 / 200.5 | 375
5. Mostly Sunny / Havens Schatt / Caroline Moran / 174.5 / 195 | 369.5
6. Diamonte / Patricia Griffith / Callie Seaman / 168 / 201 | 369
7. Mindful / Jennifer Hannan / Kensel, LLC. / 180 / 186.5 | 366.5
8. No Doubt / Victoria Colvin / Mark Woods / 173 / 189 | 362
9. Corallo Z / Greg Crolick / Renaud Farm, LLC / 165.5 / 188 | 353.5
10. Carson / Nikko Ritter / Kathryn Haefener LLC / 168 / 183 | 351
11. Enchanted / Kelley Farmer / Christel Weller / 170 / 181 | 351
12. Aeroplane / Amy Morrow / Melissa Wight / 164 / 186 | 350