Katy, Texas—April 6
When Martien van der Hoeven tried to win last week’s USHJA International Hunter Derby during Pin Oak Charity 2 his bold move backfired.
“I was trying to keep up with Peter [Pletcher] and I made a very difficult inside turn, and we had the back rail,” he said.
This week he found himself in a simliar situation. In the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Spring Gathering Charity, van der Hoeven came back for the handy trailing Pletcher on two mounts. But he managed to tuck last week’s mistake away to put in a forward ride to earn handy marks of 10 and 9 and the blue ribbon.
“You have to let the rail last week go,” said van der Hoeven. "The derby is sport, and that’s just sport. When you try to be handy and win, sometimes that happens.”
Pletcher followed on the next three slots, on Charlie Brown, CR Beethoven and last week’s winner, Luxe, respectively.
Van der Hoeven entered the ring for the second round at pace and never let up.
“They brought the derbies back in to add a little bit of excitement to the hunters,” said van der Hoeven, Spring, Texas. “I figure it doesn’t say hand gallop, but I’ll carry pace anyway. I tried to find a good line for my horse, and hoped the jumps would stand still.”
Twenty-two horses attempted Allen Rheinheimer’s first-round track. The Classic Round included an option of oxers decorated with whiskey barrels set near the back corner of the main indoor in the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. Right On and Ciara Murphy stopped twice there before retiring, and 2012 National Derby Champion Jersey Boy took a good peak at that fence, to fall out of contention for the handy.
“No matter what kind of jump it is [in that corner], it’s always a very difficult jump to jump with a horse,” said van der Hoeven. “That’s something we know from showing here a lot. Also, Allen uses the oxer-oxer [in-and-out] which a lot of hunters don’t jump regularly.”
Horses finished Round 1 over that oxer-oxer double, which had riders kicking on, but didn't cause any major problems. In the handy, Rheinheimer included two additional equal-height option fences set on different tracks, in addition to the four mandated high options. Most of the riders in the handy found slick turns to those jumps.
Alfano’s Maggie May and Viceroy and Bethany Boylen ticked rails to fall out of the running. Bull Run’s Rubicon and Elizabeth Adelson looked on track to win, nailing slick turns early on course, but a single oxer came up wrong and they crashed through. The winners of the Classic Round, CR Beethoven and Pletcher, snuck in a canter step before the trot jump to fall to third.
Cellino, an 11-year-old Holsteiner, is an experienced derby horse, with two trips ot USHJA Derby Championships under his belt. With owner Laura Thompson off at University of Georgia for her freshman year, van der Hoeven’s taken over the ride full time. He and Cellino focus primarily on the derbies, and this week they campaigned in the high performance hunter division to get ready for the big class.
“He’s brave, and he had the scope to jump the high options,” said van der Hoeven. “What I like is that he looks and presents himself like a classical hunter. He moves nice, jumps nice, and his way of going is very pleasant.”
Van der Hoeven and Cellino will head back to August Pines in Spring for a few weeks before gearing up to head to Tyler, Texas, for that series in May.
For a full report from Spring Gathering Charity, check out the April 21 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse. Want more from Spring Gathering? Check out this gallery of the open hunters, and catch up on the news from yesterday’s USHJA National Hunter Derby.Results are up at horseshowsonline.com.