March 2—Gulfport, Miss.
The weather was constantly changing during the morning of the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Gulf Coast Magnolia Classic IV—clouds rolled by, winds were gusty, but between patches of sunshine and a few drops of rain, Holly Shepherd and Triompf remained strong. Their steadfast performances earned them the blue in the classic round as well as the overall title. Bob Brawley and Diane DeMatteo’s Amadeo took second in the handy round, and third overall. Christian Rogge and Promise Me won overall reserve honors.
Sarah Patterson’s 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding handled Allen Rheinheimer and Sarah Clifton Yates’ course with ease. Shepherd tood most of the high options except the post and rail at fence 5.
“Split rails are always going to be hard, and the high side was much harder and maybe not worth the bonus points, especially headed home and early in the course. So I took the low side and then the high side [at fence 6],” said Shepherd, who operates Accolades Farm in Grand Bay, Ala.
“I would have liked to have seen the handy course give a little more option to be handy. It rode really nice, and he was amazing. [In the handy course] it was interesting to have the trot pattern and the long approach to the trot fence [fence 9],” she continued.
Watch her handy round here:
For the most part, exhibitors saw trouble at three obstacles. Fence 8, an option built of natural logs got a lot of looks. The double oxer 4a/4b two-stride combination caused several refusals, and jump 3—a white railed vertical—also got a few horses unsettled. Trimopf, who Shepherd also shows in the grand prix classes, so he’s been on the grass field and is better schooled at spooky fences, made it through without trouble, but Shepherd claimed that for a second, even he was nervous.
“Even my grand prix horse took a late look in the air,” she said. “I think it was traveling into the corner and into the score board, and they lose their focus. So I think it got more people than they expected.”
The derby drew some riders who usually campaign in the jumper rings, and Christian Rogge and Promise Me held onto the lead for a while before Shepherd finished with Triompf. He finished second in the first round and third overall.
“I like when the jumper riders come over to show in the derbies. It’s fun to have them, and they’re having fun out there,” Shepherd said.
Triompf and Shepherd will compete in Sunday’s $35,000 grand prix. They were fourth and sixth during the grand prix events in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively.