Details Of Groundbreaking $100,000 DERBYx Released To Debut At WEQx Games During 2018 Tryon FEI WEG

May 16, 2018 - 8:19 AM

Mark Bellissimo has announced the details of an innovative new concept, welcoming DERBYx™ to the 2018 WEQx Games™ competition calendar, set to take place during the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon, North Carolina, from Sept. 11-23, 2018 at Tryon International Equestrian Center. The DERBYx™ Final will be introduced during the inaugural WEQx Games™, but DERBYx™ qualifiers will be hosted at TIEC, the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (Florida), and the Colorado Horse Park during the late spring and summer.

The introduction of DERBYx™ is an effort to restore interest and participation in the hunter discipline, an iconic sport in the U.S. equestrian domain for decades, which has seen a continuous decline in competitor participation over the last few years. DERBYx™ is not intended to replace the traditional junior/amateur/adult/professional hunter divisions at competitions around the country, but rather to provide a low cost, innovative, horse-friendly, fun and spectator-friendly alternative for riders within the hunter discipline, while re-embracing the customary fundamentals of the sport. DERBYx™ will offer competitors an opportunity to challenge themselves and their horses in a traditional hunter derby competition setting with a number of unique twists.

“The key to this competition format is the use of traditional elements of the hunter discipline as it relates to field hunters and fox hunting combined with a series of objective jumping tests,” said Mark Bellissimo, CEO of the WEQx Games™ and managing partner of the Tryon Equestrian Partners. “We’ve seen this discipline plagued by a number of issues around horse preparation, judging, and increasingly expensive horses pricing people out of the sport. The DERBYx™ concept removes these issues and focuses on creating a platform to showcase the connection and communication between horse and rider.”

The WEQx Games™ qualifiers and the $100,000 DERBYx™ Final will be at the 3’6″ height with a course containing 15 jumping elements for riders, as well as an additional five non-jumping efforts. Horse and rider combinations are required to navigate a course with the described standardized scoring methodology to ensure consistency and transparency in the scoring. An optimum time will be determined, which will deduct points for combinations finishing too quickly or too slowly.

The DERBYx™ competition can be run on traditional arena footing or on a grass field, but for the $100,000 DERBYx™ Final, competition will be run on traditional arena footing. Given the optimum time, the course will remain the same and be set consistently to pre-determined specifications during the qualifying cycle for the WEQX Games™, so that riders may practice with their mounts prior to the DERBYx™ Finals. Other features of DERBYx™ will include:

Relaxed and creative show attire.

Horses are not required to be braided/plaited.

A perfect score is 100. The scoring, handled by two judges, will be based on the core elements of the course and award five points for each of the 15 jumps for a total of 75 points. The five criteria for each jump with one point designated for each element of a jump are as follows (detailed criteria to be produced and released in the coming weeks):

1) Angle of approach to the jump as determined by a series of approach guides

2) Correct striding/distance to the jumps

3) Take-off – missed distances will deduct points

4) Jump – Dropped rail (not rubs) are a penalty

5) Landing (lead changes, etc.)

Five additional non-jumping efforts worth five points per element, totaling to 25 points, will be based on the objective performance of and execution of certain skills associated with traditional field and fox hunting. The five non-jumping efforts will have an all or nothing score, with failure to complete the element resulting in a deduction of five points:

-Opening/closing a gate while mounted. In a team competition, the first rider will open the gate and the second rider will close the gate. The gate will need to be opened/closed within a specified time interval

-Halting within a defined box for a set time with no additional steps taken. Leaving or early movement will penalize the rider five points

-Dismounting within a set box and then leading a horse over a jump within a specified time interval

-Navigation through the center of a built cross rail from two angles with boundary constraints (ex. hedges or brush elements)

-Walking/trotting over a log in a single attempt without stopping or encountering disobedience

Participating combinations compete objectively and announcers will commentate during the ride to enlighten and educate spectators. The top performing combination is rewarded based on their execution of defined course elements, which are calculated by the judge at each jump. A phone application will be introduced prior to the WEQx Games™ for spectators to participate in the judging of each round. Each entry combination will be videotaped for review and scores will be live-streamed to the scoreboard after each course effort, presenting the judged score in real time. After the round is completed, a score sheet is immediately emailed to the rider and trainer along with the video clip for review of both their trip and the judge’s evaluation. In the future, DERBYx™ will have options of single and team competition and offer classes from 2’6″ to 4′ heights available to juniors, amateurs, and professionals.

The initial WEQx Games™ will be for single competitors only, but will offer a team-based format following the WEQx Games™. Within a team format, three jumps at the end of one rider’s course and the beginning of the second rider will be required to completed in parallel with a performance evaluated based on the synching of the efforts. For competing teams, the two individual scores will be averaged for a final team score.

Renowned hunter course designer Bobby Murphy will design the official DERBYx™ course and is eager to unveil a course in the next few weeks, allowing interested competitors ample time to familiarize themselves with the competition format and different components.

DERBYx™ will also open an untapped domain and opportunity for a new type of “ideal” DERBYx™ mount with a horse that can adjust to the requirements on course to the highest degree.

Bellissimo added, “We hope that this derivative competition increases rider interest in the hunter discipline and offers new jobs and opportunities for horses of different backgrounds and qualifications, including the Thoroughbred breed, which has been so influential in the foundation of fox hunting, field hunting, and what we see today in the hunter ring. Given the diverse tests, objective scoring, and the optimum time, it will take a high level of skill and good horsemanship to be successful but, in my eyes, it would be fantastic if at some point in the future of the competition, a rider won the $100,000 DERBYx™ Finals competition on a re-homed or second career Thoroughbred. In the end this is all about the passion for horses and horsemanship.”

The top six individuals will receive a pre-determined share of the $100,000 prize money following the DERBYx™ Finals competition at the 2018 WEQx Games™. There will be a single comprehensive entry fee of $1,000 for the $100,000 DERBYx™ Final, which includes all costs, including stabling.

Competitors entered for the DERBYx™ competition of the WEQx Games™ will have the opportunity to reserve a one-bedroom cabin on-site during their competition dates. If interested in reserving a cabin, please click here. A significant number of one-bedroom cabins have been reserved to date, please submit interest in reserving lodging immediately.

If you are interested in competing in DERBYx™, please fill out the form available here or visit the following link To learn more about DERBYx™, please contact

For more information about the 2018 WEQx Games™, please visit


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