Written by: Caroline Nickolaus
Client: Kentucky Horse Shows LLC http://www.kentuckyhorseshows.com
Release Date: 2016-08-21
Lexington, Ky. – August 21, 2016 – It was the 20-year-old, newly-turned professional rider, Geoffrey Hesslink, who took home not only the blue ribbon and championship cooler for Sunday afternoon’s $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby, but also for the entire Hallway Feeds Hunter Derby Series. Saturday’s derby marked the last leg of the popular series, held during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show at the Kentucky Horse Park.
Hesslink piloted Garland Alban’s Esco to victory, after receiving an 89 in the classic round and an 83 in the handy, collecting a lead score of 172 points to seal the win. He successfully tackled three high-option fences. While Hesslink has competed in the Alltech Arena more times than he can count due to his illustrious equitation career as a junior, it was Esco’s first time in the intimidating indoor arena.
Hesslink, of Shelburne, Vermont, said, “I started riding Esco post-circuit at the Winter Equestrian Festival this year. He’s been great. He does the Performance Hunters and the derbies. He’s been perfect.”
Hesslink enjoys participating in the Hallway Feeds National Derby Series so much that he has not missed one this year. “I love the derbies because I feel like it’s a great place to show off your horse and your handiness as well as how smooth and soft you can be,” Hesslink said. “Esco really excels at it because he doesn’t care about any of the jumps. He never spooks at anything.”
Although it was Esco’s first time in the large indoor venue, and their partnership is fairly new, Hesslink was not concerned about the 8-year-old Rhinelander.
“I know he’s always a steady eddie and he doesn’t care about those things. For sure, it’s more spooky. There’s more pressure on the horses with this atmosphere,” Hesslink acknowledged.
Hesslink has made a smooth transition into his budding career as a young professional under the guidance of Tim and Kelly Goguen of Boggs Hill Farm, as well as the generosity on behalf of Adena Testa and Garland Alban.
As the winner of the Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby Series, Hesslink took home the $10,000 Hallway Feeds Leading Rider Bonus. “I think its amazing,” said Hesslink. “I think that it really helps to advertise and get the name out there for the derbies and I think it drives people to want to do them more and participate. I know Taylor [Kain], Aaron [Vale] and Sydney [Shulman] all came back and wanted to do them again and I did the same. I think it’s a great program and it’s a good thing for people who are here.”
Earning second place honors in this weekend’s derby was Courtney Baggett’s Highmark, ridden by Amanda Dougherty. She took on three high options and judges awarded the pair with an 82 in the classic and 85 in the handy. Tori Colvin rode Rivercross Onyx, owned by Rivercross Farm, to third-place honors with a total score of 167.5 points.
Hallway Feeds’ close proximity to the Kentucky Horse Park provides ample opportunity to utilize the freshest feed, manufactured with time-honored commitments to high standards of quality and the latest scientific advancements. Combining a premium nutrition package with a professional level of dedication in horsemen and women provides equine athletes with the formula for success.
For more information on Hallway Feeds, please visit www.hallwayfeeds.com.
The Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby series would not be possible without many generous sponsors including Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, Fenwick Equestrian Products, EquiVision, Inc., Caddel Equine Therapy Center, Bauer Hay & Straw, Alfagreen Supreme, Trouw Nutrition, The Andersons, Mark Fischer Inc., Double S Liquid Feed Services, Inc., Agri-Business Insurance Services and Sweet PDZ Horse Stall Refresher.
The final leg of the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby was the second to last event held during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show on Sunday afternoon. The Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix rounded out the show. Competition will resume at the Kentucky Horse Park with the KHJA Horse Show, beginning on Tuesday.
To learn more about the Kentucky Horse Shows, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
Horse/Rider/First Round/Second Round/Total Score
- Esco/Geoffrey Hesslink/89.000/83.000/172.000
- Highmark/Amanda Dougherty/83.000/85.000/168.000
- Rivercross Onyx/Victoria Colvin/85.500/82.000/167.500
- MTM Do Right/Didi Mackenzie/80.000/87.000/167.000
- Cobalt Blue R SCR/Jason Berry/88.000/77.000/165.000
- Phantom/Leylan Gleeson/82.000/78.000/160.000
- Madewell/Aaron Vale/84.000/68.000/152.000
- Puissance R/Jenny Karazissis/86.000/65.000/151.000
- Lex Toccino/Michael Burnett/79.500/71.000/150.500
- Burrata/Jenny Karazissis/91.000/49.000/140.000