Age and experience won the day when Jennifer Hannan and 20-year-old Mindful topped a field of 50 hunter combinations Friday to win the Winter Equestrian Festival Week 4 $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.
“To have a horse like Mindful, who’s 20 years in age, for eight years is just a privilege,” said Hannan, Wakefield, Rhode Island, of the Hanoverian gelding (Graf Grannus—Baronesse, Bold Indian) that started his career as a jumper in Canada. “Every round and class I get to do on him is a gift. He was a little playful after the third jump, and it just made me so delighted.”
The one-round, hunt-and-go format course at Wellington International (Florida) was designed by Andy Christiansen. The hunt & go format consolidates two rounds into one with both a classic and a handy element. Two judging panels were responsible for producing each pair’s combined score after a course that consisted of four possible high options and utilized both the expanse of the ring to allow riders to open their horses stride and incorporated a series of rollbacks and inside turns to demonstrate handiness across the second half.
“I thought the course had a nice flow to it,” said Hannan, who guided Mindful to impressive scores of 92 and 94 to land a win for owner Selma Garber’s Kensel LLC. (Learn more here about how they’ve kept Mindful going strong as a senior competitor.)
“The first line definitely had some questions; it was a bit of a forward five and for whatever reason that end of the ring was a bit spooky today. The high options were interesting and had good substance to them. It’s great that they’re using this ring to put the horses on an even playing field with the jumpers and this ring shows itself so well.”
Watch their winning round, courtesy of ShowGroundsLive.com:
Wellington’s own Jimmy Torano finished second on a 93 and 92.5 riding Laskano, a 12-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Isalou, Inc., and Nick Haness of Temecula, California, was third on scores of 93 and 92 riding Queen Celeste, a 13-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Glade Run Farm.
Click here for full results.