Wellington. Fla. – Feb. 21, 2020 – Week Seven of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), invited a field of 74 horse-and-rider pairs to compete for the top prize in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Split between professionals and junior/amateur competitors, Friday morning’s class saw some of the nation’s top hunter riders and mounts take to the ring to showcase their skills. In the end, it was Havens Schatt that claimed top honors in the professional section aboard Highlander, owned by Meredith Mateo, with August Iwasaki and Sambuca, owned by Ava Peck, earning the blue in the junior/amateur section.
Course designer Robert McGregor set a 10-obstacle first-round course for the 35 professional and 39 amateur competitors. The course featured four high-option fences and an in-and-out obstacle, along with ample opportunities to utilize a forward pace as each pair made their way around the expansive track that spanned across Ring 11 and 12. The handy round brought back a total of 24 riders, the top 12 from each section, and presented each with a shortened, nine-obstacle course that included a trot fence, four high-option fences and several rollback turns.
In the professional section, Schatt was scheduled late in the order and had ample time to plan her first-round track. Her waiting paid off as she earned a 93 for her first-round score, tackling all four high options. Following the first round, Schatt sat just one point behind Hannah Isop’s leading score of 94 riding Heidi Tummel’s Sincerely. Returning in reverse order, Schatt and Highlander, a 9-year-old Zangersheide gelding, laid down a flawless trip, earning an impressive second-round score of 99 for a total overall score of 192. Isop couldn’t match Schatt’s impressive round, finishing with a handy round score of 91 for a total overall score of 185.
Schatt ultimately took the win in the professional group aboard Highlander, a newer mount for her that only recently arrived on the east coast. Isop and Sincerely claimed second place and rounding out the top three was Keri Kampsen aboard her own mount San Diego, a 9-year-old Warmblood gelding.
In contrast to Schatt for the junior/amateur section of the class, Iwasaki went early in the first round order riding Sambuca, (a 16-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding. The pair put down a solid first-round course, earning a total score of 89 after tackling three of the four high options. Following the first round, Iwasaki and Sambuca sat in second place, with Iwasaki also sitting in third place aboard Small Occasion, an 11-year-old Holsteiner mare, owned by Liz Riley and Chris Iwasaki. Michael Baum and Conway, owned by Camille Branca, sat in the top spot with a total first-round score of 90.
In the handy round, Iwasaki and Sambuca climbed to the top of the leaderboard with a score of 97 to earn a total overall score of 186. Iwasaki also claimed the second-place spot with Small Occasion after receiving a total score of 183. Juliette Joseph rounded out the top three riding Socialite, owned by Gabrielle Sokolow, riding to a total overall score of 174.
Hunter derby competition at WEF will come to an exciting close during Week Twelve at the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby which will be featured at the Stadium Derby Field at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) facility.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Havens Schatt – $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby winner (professional section)
“We have only had him for three weeks. This is our first horse show with him. He came from California to be sold and he’s primarily a junior/amateur horse, so I just competed in the Performance 3’3’’ Hunter this week to figure out what I wanted to do with him. His owner [Meredith Mateo] told me that if there is a national derby that I should do it. I’m glad that I did! He’s a really cool horse.”
On the course:
“The course was nice today – it is always nice when they open up the rings like this. It’s a little hard to get used to because it becomes a little bit more of a square, but the course rode really nice and I thought it was a good first introduction to national derbies down here since they haven’t had any since the ESP Holiday series.”
On her plans for the remainder of WEF:
“For [Highlander], I hope to get him sold. Other than that, for the rest of my horses, we are gearing up for the USHJA National and International derbies on the grass that will be at the end [of WEF], and also to get the young horses going.”
Augusta Iwasaki – $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby winner (jr/amateur section)
“This is my friend Ava Peck’s horse. I don’t usually get to show him so this was really fun and I’m glad I got to do it.”
On the course:
“I thought it was a super fun course. I had a great time on both my horses. The handy [rounds] are my favorite. I always try to be as handy as I can, even where I don’t have to be super tight, I can just be tidy and I think that’s where I made a good impression.”