Traverse City, Mich. – July 25, 2020 – Serving as the highlight of the second World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week in Traverse City, the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Copper Fox, took place Saturday evening and showcased the talents of 29 horse-and-rider combinations. The class is the clear featured hunter event during the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC, and lived up to its prestige with two hotly-contested rounds of riding that saw lofty scores earned by the top-placing pairs. Exemplifying rideability and smoothness better than the rest, La Primera Hacienda L P’s Glorieus carried Courtney Lenkart to the top spot on the scorecard, adding another milestone victory to the duo’s list of accomplishments after winning the division championship in the High Performance/Green 3’9″ Hunters just days prior.
For the classic phase, course designer Andrew Christiansen crafted a pattern of 12 obstacles that featured a number of fences with high options, allowing riders opportunities to earn bonus points for the extra effort. Navigating the natural obstacles places around the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring seemingly with ease, Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen and Monterrey were awarded the highest score of the first round to jump to the early frontrunners position with 180 points from the judges panel, followed closely by Greg Crolick and Kuore in second position with a score of 175. Less than one point behind, Jef Lauwers, the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby less than one week ago, piloted Spectacular to a tally of 174.10 points, just fractions of a point ahead of the fourth-place duo with 174, Courtney Lenkart and Glorieus. The International Derby champion in Traverse City in 2019, Jacob Pope rounded out the top five aboard With Honors thanks to a score of 173. The cut-off score for the top 12 qualified returners concluded at 160 points, a differential of 20 points between first position and twelfth position following round one.
With the leading pairs’ scores so tight headed into the handy phase, horse-and-rider partnerships needed to turn in error-free efforts in order to stay in contention for the title. Though a number of riders entered multiple mounts in the class to bolster their chances of winning, no athletes qualified more than one mount for the handy course. Rearranged slightly for the second phase, Christiansen’s course featured a trot fence, four high option fences, plus a number of opportunities for competitors to showcase their skills in order to earn up to 10 additional points for handiness.
As the latter portion of the class progressed, the lead changed hands consistently. As the fourth-to-last to go, Lenkart and Glorieus scored the highest single-round score of the class thus far with 202 points, the first to break the 200-point benchmark thanks to individual scores of 87 and 91, plus 4 high option points and a perfect 10 handy points. Sitting on 376 total points, the duo still sat at the top of the leaderboard as the final partnership, Cruciotti Vanderveen and Monterrey, stepped foot in the ring to contest the course as the last in the list of returners and classic round leaders. Needing 197 points to seal the victory, Cruciotti Vanderveen and Monterrey laid down a pristine round, but fell just short, garnering 192 points to finish on final marks of 372, good enough to take second place.
Moving up from fourth place after the classic round, Lenkart and Glorieus impressed with their handy phase trip to earn the victory, followed by Cruciotti Vanderveen and her own Monterrey as the runner-up pair. Pope and Corporate Way LLC’s With Honors claimed third position overall with 368 points to close out the podium.
Hunter competition will continue for one final day during Week Four of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC. The $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby will take place Sunday, giving riders one final chance at the prize money.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Courtney Lenkart – $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Copper Fox, winner
On her handy round plan:
“I was trying to be as tidy as possible and make all the inside turns. I did chicken out in one spot – I was going to go inside after the trot fence, but when I jumped it, it just wasn’t there, so I decided to go around. I thought everything else was really handy. I just wanted to relax and have fun. I have won a couple of times in here on a different horse. I love the ring and I just thought I would have fun and see where the chips would fall.”
“He is perfect. He is so brave, jumps the big jumps with no problems. The owners actually bought him as a jumper for my husband, Scott, and he was a little bit too slow. But he loves the derbies, so they are his new niche, and hopefully he will do the Amateurs with his mom.”
$25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Copper Fox:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score / Total
1. Glorieus / Courtney Lenkart / La Primera Hacienda L P / 174 / 202 | 376
2. Monterrey / Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen / Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen / 180 / 192 | 372
3. With Honors / Jacob Pope / Corporate Way LLC / 173 / 195 | 368
4. Spectacular / Jef Lauwers / Tessa Downey / 174.10 / 192 | 366.10
5. Mercy Me / Madison Rauschenbach / Donald Stewart / 167 / 195 | 362
6. Fenway / Lilly Goldstein / Lilly Goldstein / 171 / 189 | 360
7. Kuore / Greg Crolick / Renaud Farm LLC / 175 / 178 | 353
8. Didgereedoo VDL / Kelsey Epperson / Julia Szasz / 167.5 / 175 | 342.50
9. Topper / Lourdes De Guardiola / Stephen Macken / 162.50 / 177 | 339.50
10. Editorial / Meagan Murray-Tenuat / Becky Price / 162 / 160 | 322
11. Cake / Greg Crolick / Keara Belle Obrzut LLC / 164 / 147 | 311
12. E.S. Diathago 2 / Tiffany Morrissey / Doris Neyra / 160 / 113 | 273