Wellington, FL - February 7, 2014 - The top riders from across the nation gather at the Ridge at Wellington today for the inaugural Hunter Derby Days, part of the Ridge at Wellington's Turf Tour. Under sunny skies and beautiful conditions the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby commenced this afternoon, featuring derby sensation Jersey Boy with Jennifer Alfano in the saddle riding to the top of the ranks. Besting a field of top-tier competitors, Alfano and Jersey Boy led the field from start to finish. Havens Schatt and Just Fred took the second place, while Kelley Farmer and Unspoken captured third. Earlier in the day Keri Kampsen and Silhouette took home the victory in $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby.
Kenneth Krome of the United States captured the essence of a traditional hunt field as he transformed the sand arena at the Ridge at Wellington into a beautifully set course. He utilized natural objects such as logs, brush and birch to set the scene, while challenging riders with a serpentine of obstacles. Riders had to use the entire expanse of the large arena. Riders had the option to earn valuable handy points and high option points throughout the course, adding crucial tallies to their already impressive score.
Twelve horse and rider combinations would find their way into the challenging handy course, but it was Alfano and Jersey Boy, owned by SBS Farms, Inc. of Buffalo, NY, who were the class pathfinders with their score combined score of 179 points from the first round.
"He jumped great in the first round, and he hadn't been in the ring or anything, so it was all pretty new to him. He was in it to win it today," Alfano explained.
Havens Schatt came back in the third position, but her seemingly flawless handy round earned them the top marks with scores of dual scores of 87 awarded from both judges. Their points for handiness and utilization of the high options led to a total of 191 points. Kelley Farmer and Unspoken also rode to a beautiful handy round with a beautiful transition to the trot fence, and smooth inside turns for a second-round score of 185.5 points.
Alfano and Jersey Boy returned to the ring with a first round total of 179 points, and Jersey Boy once again rose to the handy challenge. They navigated the inside turns with ease while keeping a forward pace. They earned a score of 191.25 points, to keep the lead and claim the winning honors with an overall score of 370.25.
"It's great, he is a little older now, so he has gotten easier and easier," Alfano said. "It is nice because he hasn't shown since Harrisburg, and he went to Jacksonville and went right in the derby, and then came here and went right in the derby. These are the only two classes he has done this year, and he has won both. I am thrilled with him, he feels better than ever."
Earlier today, the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby welcomed 23 riders to the ring. In the end it was Keri Kampsen and Lyn Pedersen's Silhouette that wow'd the judges with their consistency and to take home the winning prize, earning the overall score of 350.5 points. Hannah Isop and Red Ryder, owned by Tracy Freels, rode to the second place finish with a score of 346 points, while Jennifer Bauersachs ranked third.
"I just started riding Silhouette the second week of WEF, John French normally rides her, but since he is at Thermal, I get to show her," Kampsen said. "She is a blast to ride. She just likes confidence, and consistency. She is a really great mare. She tries 110% all the time."
Kampsen concluded, "The courses were very nice. It was a friendly way to do her first derby in Wellington. It was enough course, and it had enough jump. There were some great options in the handy course, and although I couldn't pull off the inside turn that Jennifer [Bauersachs] did for the inside turn to the double, I think it was our consistency that put us ahead. It was a conservative round, but she really did well. We are already planning to return for the March derby."