Traverse City, Mich. – Sept. 12, 2021 – The grand finale to hunter competition during Week II of the Traverse City Tournament of Champions took place Sunday afternoon in the Polk Family Hunter Ring. A total of 43 entries had their shot at the top prize in the $10,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby to close the week out on a high note. Following two rounds of challenging competition, it was Grace Debney and Temple Equestrian LLC’s Quimby who topped the leaderboard.
Andy Christiansen (ECU) offered an 11-fence first classic round course aptly decorated and fit for the talent in the lineup. Several riders showed a clear advantage of taking home a win with multiple horses entered, including Augusta Iwasaki, Tiffany Morrissey, Hillary Johnson, Greg Crolick. Emerging at the top of the leaderboard following the first round with her sole entry in the class was Samantha Schaefer who piloted R&R Hunter Horses LLC’s Caristo to a score of 93. Sitting just one point behind in the second position on a score of 92 was Crolick with Testify, owned by Jon Cotton. Iwasaki and Ashland Farms’ Attendu de Lannois Z received a first-round score of 91 to round out the top three, while Debney and Quimby were hot on their heels for their score of 90.5 to claim the fourth position at the conclusion of the first round.
With just 12 horse-and-rider pairs advancing to the shortened nine-fence handy round, the win was anyone’s for the taking as riders had their chance to really showcase their horses’ skills to the judges in the hopes of moving up the ranks. There was a shake-up in the leaderboard when Debney and Quimby entered confidently for the handy round. The duo were able to bring their equitation experience to the handy round as they navigated a tight and tidy track around the arena. Their equitation skills paid off, earning a handy score of 94 to push them into the top spot on the leaderboard with an overall total of 184.5.
Also making their way up the leaderboard was Meghan Ghere riding Don Stewart’s Starfighter. Bringing forth a score of 87.5 from the first round, the pair knew they had to make up ground in order to claim a top spot. They impressed the judges with finesse and style around the handy round, earning a score of 92 for their efforts to finish on a total of 181.5, good enough to claim the second place position. Iwasaki and Attendu de Lannois Z would move down the standings to claim third place following their handy round score of 88, finishing on an overall total of 179. In the end, no one could match the performance by Debney and Quimby, ultimately lending them the first place honors.
With the conclusion of the $10,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby, hunter athletes look forward to the inaugural Traverse City Hunter & Derby finals taking place during Week III of the Tournament of Champions and running concurrently with the 51st Anniversary of the American Gold Cup. Unique to Traverse City Horse Shows, hunter athletes will look forward to over $275k in additional prize money during the finals. Over the course of the show series, exhibitors have had the opportunity to enroll in the incentive program and compete for add-back prize money, with 70% of the enrollment fees added to the prize money pot. Horses not enrolled in the program are still eligible to compete in the upcoming finals as long as they have completed during at least three weeks of the Traverse City Horse Shows series.
Hunter competition during the Traverse City Tournament of Champions will continue Wednesday, September 15, as the third and final week of the fall series gets underway.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Grace Debney – $10,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby winner
“He’s really so cool. He’s so versatile and loves doing the hunters, he loves doing the equitation, he’s just willing to do it all. He has the goofiest, quietest personality in the barn. He is super goofy but he is always sleeping and he really doesn’t require much work to get to the ring. He is always wanting to have fun. We put him in this class to keep him in the groove because I’m using him at equitation finals this year. We really just wanted to keep him going and it really worked out that we did this class because it went so well!”
On the handy:
“I really planned to come in there and try to do as tight of turns that I could do. Obviously, he’s an equitation so he is used to having to do those difficult turns and difficult things in those rounds. I planned on coming back and trying to work my way up from fourth by doing those turns.”
On moving up the ranks to take the win:
“I really think I made it up by being bold and going in there and being as tight as I could and keeping it all smooth, which I think is a quality that [Quimby] really has. He just keeps everything looking smooth the whole way around.”
On Traverse City Horse Shows:
“I love Traverse City, it’s one of my favorite shows of all time. I only started coming here last year but it’s definitely one that we are always going to come to. The vibe here is so much fun and showing here is so fun.”
$10,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Quimby / Grace Debney / Temple Equestrian LLC / 90.5 / 94 | 184.5
2. Starfighter / Megan Ghere / Donald Stewart / 89.5 / 92 | 181.5
3. Attendu de Lannois Z / Augusta Iwasaki / Ashland Farms / 91 / 88 | 179
4. Copernicus K / Tiffany Morrissey / Kathryn Withers / 89 / 89 | 178
5. Kuore / Greg Crolick / Renaud Farm LLC / 87.25 / 90 | 177.25
6. Caristo / Samantha Schaefer / R&R Hunter Horses LLC / 93 / 84 | 177
7. KT Hedwich / Carlee McCutcheon / Carlee McCutcheon / 87.5 / 86 | 173.5
8. Breathless / Hillary Johnson / Sara Barnes / 88.5 / 82 | 170.5
9. Blue Monday / Hillary Johnson / Stephani Battershall / 88.75 / 79 | 167.75
10. Ever So Often / Augusta Iwasaki / Ava Peck / 90 / 72 | 162
11. Mercy Me / Riley Hogan / Donald Stewart / 88 / 49 | 137
12. Testify / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 92 / 44 | 136