Traverse City, Mich. – Sept. 13, 2020 – Hunter hopefuls came to the limelight Sunday, the final day of the 50th American Gold Cup, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC, and the 2020 season in Traverse City. Two feature events highlighted the day, coming in the form of the $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby and the $2,500 2’6″ Non Pro Hunter Derby. Pony and junior riders also had a chance to shine in the $2,500 Traverse City Horse Shows Pony Hunter Classic and the $5,000 Traverse City Horse Shows Junior Hunter Classic, presented by Makoto Farms. In the end, Samantha Schaefer and In The Know emerged victorious to claim the lion’s share of the prize money in the $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby.
The highly anticipated $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby kicked off in the afternoon, welcoming 39 talented professional riders to the Polk Family Main Hunter Ring for their chance at closing out the 50th American Gold Cup with a win. After a competitive first round, the top twelve horse and athlete pairs were invited back to the ring to contend for top honors in the nine-obstacle handy round. Among the top twelve were familiar top hunter finishers throughout the summer in Traverse City, including Jacob Pope, Greg Crolick, Tammy Provost, and round one’s leader, Schaefer, topping the field with a first round score of 94.
Though top honors eluded Schaefer and In The Know during the previous week’s $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, the duo was determined to hold their leading position heading into Sunday’s handy round. Offering four high options for bonus points, the handy round saw the lead change hands numerous times as the top twelve professionals piloted their mounts in reverse order around various rollback options and a trot fence. As the final pair to enter the ring, Schaefer and the 11-year-old Warmblood gelding demonstrated a textbook round, tackling the track with ease and finesse.
In the end, it was Schaefer and In The Know that received the leading title, riding to an impressive handy round score of 91 and an overall total score of 185. Moving up in the ranks after the handy round, Nicholas Pongracz and Victoria Herran’s Con-Grande finished in second place on a total score of 178.5 after receiving scores of 86.5 and 92. Rounding out the top three was Caroline Weeden aboard Whisper, owned by Charlotte Harris, with scores of 90 and 84 to receive an overall score of 176.
Running simultaneously with the $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, the $2,500 Non Pro Hunter Derby welcomed competitors to the secondary hunter ring for their shot at the top of the leaderboard. In the end, Lisa Berger piloted East Wind Farms LLC’s Hannes to the blue, riding to a total score of 168 over the two phases of competition. Berger also finished in the second place position, this time aboard East Wind Farms LLC’s Bon Ami, riding to an overall score of 165. Rounding out the top three was Claudia Millstone aboard her own C’est La Vie after earning a total score of 161 for their efforts.
First thing in the morning, pony riders on Small and Medium mounts cantered around the Polk Family Main Hunter Ring in attempts to close out the week with a fresh blue ribbon to their name. Turning in two back-to-back standout rounds in the $2,500 Traverse City Horse Shows Pony Hunter Classic that earned them a total tally of 166 points, Addison Stoughton and her own Newhaven’s Magnum claimed the top honors ahead of the field of starters. Hot on their heels, Olivia Sweetnam rode Madeline Schaefer’s Armani to the reserve spot with a cumulative 165 points, and Lillian Stoughton earned third place on her own Woodlands Polar Bear with 163 points.
Immediately following, junior hunter competitors tried their hands at the $5,000 Traverse City Horse Shows Junior Hunter Classic, presented by Makoto Farm, for their shot at top honors. Besting a field of strong competitors, Hallie Grimes and Can We Keep It? LLC’s Frankly Stated wowed the judges to earn a total score of 178 and nabbed the win. Ending up in the reserve position was Ellie Ferrigno and Aquitaine Equine’s Maraschino after the duo was awarded 172 points, and Ferrigno added to her success with a 170.50-point score to rounded out the podium aboard Reliance, owned by Joyride EQ LLC.
Sunday concluded the 2020 season in Traverse City following 11 weeks of exciting equestrian action, but Flintfields Horse Park will return in 2021 as the host of Traverse City Horse Shows.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Samantha Schaefer – $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby winner
On her win:
“Spyder, [In The Know], is my rock. I brought him here to do [Adequan/USEF Junior Hunter National Championships – East Coast] with Grace [Debney] at the beginning of the month, then I gave him a week off and then showed him in the last two National derbies. He was third last week and was great, and today he was himself and was perfect. We can always count on him. Even if the jumps are low, people always think he doesn’t look impressed, but he still always makes a good effort to put his best foot forward.”
On In The Know:
“I was a little off my game last week. He actually won the first round last week and he landed left in the bending line where I thought he would land right and that caught up with me a little bit. I thought today he was spot on everywhere I asked him, he was always right with me. It’s nice to have a partnership like that in these classes.”
On the handy round:
“I think there were some places where you could get inside that I chose to just be smooth and go around. He is such a big horse that sometimes when I end up turning everywhere it gets a little choppy so I just tried to make the round as smooth as possible. I knew what I had to do going into that round. I just tried not to throw it away and execute what I needed to.”
On competing at the American Gold Cup:
“We love Michigan and we can’t wait to come back next year! It’s nice to have a horse that I know so well and a horse that I can always feel confident on going into these classes.”
$25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Samantha Schaefer / In The Know / Madeline Schaefer / 94 / 91 | 185
2. Con-grande / Nicholas Pongracz / Victoria Herran / 86.5 / 92 | 178.5
3. Whisper / Caroline Weeden / Charlotte Harris / 90 / 84 | 176
4. Kuore / Greg Crolick / Renaud Farm LLC / 84.5 / 90 | 174.5
5. On Your Mark / Tiffany Morrissey / Lisa Berger / 85 / 89 | 174
6. Handwritten / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 91 / 82.5 | 173.5
7. Hero / Tamara Provost / Moyer Farm LLC / 89 / 83 | 172
8. *Cash* / Alexander Alston / Alston Alliance LLC / 89.5 / 82 |171.5
9. J’adore / Jacob Pope / Team Rakowsky Equestrian LLC / 86 / 84 | 170
10. Life Is Good / Avery P Hinson / Alexa Stiegler / 84 / 85 | 169
11. Carnaval / Caroline Weeden / Stephanie Harris / 85.5 / 80 | 165.5
12. Cold Case / Isabella Griffin / Donald Stewart / 87 / 44 | 131