Temecula, Calif. – May 1, 2022 – Sunday served as derby day in the Grand Hunter Arena as 37 horse-and-rider combinations contended the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Rusty Brown Jewelry. In traditional hunter derby format, riders navigated a first-round course of nine fences before the top 12 were invited back to demonstrate their mounts’ efforts over a handy course. At the close of the class, it was Emily Esau Williams and Morgan Beyler’s Kuala Lumpur taking top honors.
Andy Christiansen designed the two courses for the hunter athletes, testing their abilities to lengthen, shorten, and show off scope and style over each fence. Among the challenges presented in the first round were several lines, a two-stride, standalone oxers, and long-approach fences, including four high options for a possible four bonus points.
Leading the pack after round one was Stella Wasserman and Boss, owned by Laura Wasserman. The pair navigated the first round track flawlessly, flowing down the lines and showing off the horse’s jumping ability over the singles on long approaches.
The top 12 were then welcomed to the handy track, which presented additional challenges, including tight turns and a trot fence. Setting the bar midway through was Aedan Mooney and Balko D’Elle, who set the highest score yet for the handy round at 92 for a total of 179.5. They chose inside paths and wowed the judges with the 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding’s scope and adjustability to take the lead in the class. Esau Williams returned shortly after and, knowing she had ground to make up after placing 4th in round one, she thoroughly impressed the judges with the 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding and sliced fences, turning inside to get tighter approaches where possible, and aced the trot fence. Her high score of 93 for the handy round combined with a score of 88 propelled her to the top of the class on a total score of 181.
Marisa Metzger returned shortly after with Sinmigo Dos, owned by Kathryn Fleck Peisach, and gave her best effort with the 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding’s spectacular jumping style. With a near-flawless round, the pair earned a 91.5 for the handy round and fell just one point short of the lead, ultimately placing second with one to go. Wasserman came in aboard Boss and attempted to lay down as perfect a round as she had in round one, but the trot fence took Boss by surprise, dropping them out of contention for the win and putting Esau Williams in the winner’s circle.
The win felt extra special to Esau Williams and Kuala Lumpur’s owner, Morgan Beyler, who suffered an ankle injury Friday after falling from her horse. Though it isn’t a serious injury, she’ll be sidelined for several weeks to heal. The win for her horse Sunday put a wide smile on her face and gave her extra confidence she’ll need to come back even stronger.
Three weeks of the Temecula Valley National Horse Show kicks off May 18 and culminates in a thrilling week of competition for the National Equestrian Tournament, from June 1-5, 2022.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Emily Esau Williams – $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby winner
On Kuala Lumpur:
“He’s perfect. Dale Fisher, who I work with, imported him three years ago and he hasn’t put a foot wrong. He is the best, sweetest, most fun horse to ride. He always tries and we love him to death. I get to do him in the open divisions and then Morgan [Beyler] does him in the Amateur Owners. I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s only seven. We have that nice Young Hunter division so he did the 5- and 6-Year-Old Young Hunters as we’ve developed him. Every time we ask him to step up he’s done it beautifully.”
On the handy round:
“The handy round is my strength as a rider because I have a strong jumper background, as well as the equitation as a junior. With those shorter turns, I just thrive. He listens so beautifully and I know he’s going to be there for me, so I knew I had to make up some ground. I trust him completely so I thought I’d just put it all out there and see what happens.”
On Nilforushan Equisport Events:
“I have known Ali [Nilforushan] since we were 12 years old because we both grew up in San Diego. I love what he is doing here. Every time we come to this facility they’ve made improvements.He’s open to ideas. He listens to the exhibitors. Most importantly, he wants the exhibitors to have fun and enjoy the experience. That’s what this is about. From the parties to being at every awards presentation, it just shows he truly cares and that makes us, who are all working so very hard, really appreciate the efforts being made on both sides.”
$2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Rusty Brown Jewelry
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total Score
- Kuala Lumpur / Emily Esau Williams / Morgan Beyler 88 / 93 | 181
- Sinmigo Dos / Marisa Metzger / Kathryn Fleck Peisach / 88.5 / 91.5 | 180
- Balko D’Elle / Aedan Mooney / Carolyn Becker / 87.5 / 92 | 179.5
- C’Est Moi / Katie Taylor Davidson / Breanne Karanikolas / 89 / 90 | 179
- Kaliman / Paige Dendiu / Morgan Wiebe / 85.8 / 89 | 174.8
- Einstein / Sara Simpson / Sara Simpson / 87 / 82 | 169
- Vulcan / Hope Verschleiser / Hope Verschleiser / 85.75 / 79 | 164.75
- Oscuro / Emily Esau Williams / Megan Camaisa / 87.75 / 70 | 157.75
- Q King Of Hearts Z / Aedan Mooney / Brannon Loomis Mooney / 87.8 / 51 | 138.8
- Boss / Stella Wasserman / Laura Wasserman / 91 / 33 | 124
- Stiletto / Nick Haness / Nick Haness / 86.5 / 0 | 86.5
- Inkwell / Nick Haness / Tami Cabaniss / 86 / 0 | 86