Clementine Tastes Sweet Success In The $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby

Apr 4, 2014 - 3:58 PM

Katy, Texas—April 4

Peter Pletcher didn’t have the best start to the second round of the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at Spring Gathering Charity Horse Show.

Pletcher rode four of the 12 horses that advanced to the handy, and on his second, Aura, he forgot the track and had to circle.

“I just totally forgot,” said Pletcher, who admitted it’s not the first time in recent memory he’s lost track of where he was going in the ring. “One of my customers came up to me and said ‘That’s going to be the best thing for the kids at this show to see.’ ”

But Pletcher recovered from the mishap to ride Clementine to the top of the 54-horse class for Elizabeth McRae. Clementine moved up from the third spot to win by half a point over Dorothy Douglas on S&L Braydon, with Jen Alfano catch riding Inside Scoop to third.

Pletcher just started riding the 7-year-old Hanoverian mare (Calido—Aronia) last week. Thanks to their new partnership he didn’t want to take unnecessary risks. Like all the riders who advanced to Allen Rheinheimer’s second round track, Petcher elected all the high options. Pletcher and Clementine nailed the trot jump and kept an efficient, if not overly brazen, track.

“The first jump away from the in-gate was far away and it was a really spooky jump,” said Pletcher. “I wanted to be cautious there, and I figured if she handled that jump well she’d be really good. I didn’t want to go too crazy in there. Having a few in the class, I noticed early on, you can usually tell if they want something really handy, or something a little smoother. Seemed to me it was a smooth handy course, so that’s what I did. It makes it a little nicer and easier on them.”

McRae trains with Sherre Sims, who recruited Pletcher to ride Clementine in the a few national derbies, with the goal of campaigning her on the USHJA International Hunter Derby circuit down the road. She’s currently competing in the 3’3’ performance division with Pletcher as well.

“She’s a little bit spooky at the jumps, so you get that little bit of extra pop out of her,” said Pletcher, Magnolia, Texas. “I think as time goes on that will come into play, you just have to hold her to where the jumps are. She doesn’t want to touch the jumps.”

Pletcher won the USHJA International Hunter Derby here at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center last week during Pin Oak Charity 2. He’ll be back with his winning mount, Luxe, as well as several others for tomorrow night’s USHJA International Hunter Derby.

Want to see more pictures from Spring Gathering Charity? Click here to see a gallery of yesterday’s open hunters.

For a full report from Spring Gathering Charity, check out the April 21 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse. Results are available at

Category: Hunters

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