Wellington, Fla. – April 3, 2021 – Hunter competition came to a pinnacle during Week 12 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), the final installment of the famed winter series in Wellington, Florida, bringing some of the country’s top hunter athletes and their horses to the Stadium Derby Field of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center for the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. A total of 27 horse-and-rider combinations made their way around the spacious field, but it was Greg Crolick and Carole Chase’s Chappy that showed their best to claim the overall winning title after two rounds of competition.
Course designer Ken Krome (USA) crafted the first round track that welcomed all 27 entries. Thirteen natural fences set the perfect stage for the two panels of judges to determine a score out of 200 for each pair’s ability to exemplify the ideals of hunter competitors throughout the classic round. In addition, four high-option fences were offered for those willing to take on an added challenge, and each high-option accounted for one additional point to be added to their score. Taking an early lead in the first round, Crolick piloted Chappy to the first score of the day, earning a score of 182. The remaining 26 entries would try to overtake Crolick’s leading score, but try as they might, no one could top Chappy’s performance, leaving the pair in the first place position headed into the second round. Sitting in second place with a score of 177 was Havens Schatt and Cascartini, while Elizabeth Towell Boyd and Cassico sat in third on a 175 score prior to the second round.
A total of 12 entries were invited to return to the field for the handy round. Krome’s shortened 10-obstacle track provided the perfect opportunity for riders to showcase their horses’ adjustability and scope in hopes of dazzling the judges one last time. A series of rollback turns, a trot fence and four high option fences required precision and talent from both horse and rider as they navigated their way through the winding course.
Higher scores throughout the second round made for a significant shuffle of the placings leading up to the crowning of the overall champion, but as the top three made their return, it became evident that their consistency would prove to be more valuable than any high score throughout. Tenth in the order-of-go, Towell Boyd and Rebekah Warren’s 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding Cassico sliced and diced their way through the course, earning themselves a second round score of 195 for an overall total of 370. Penultimately, Schatt and Ken and Amy Wexler LLC’s Holsteiner gelding Cascartini produced a score of 194.5 for their second round effort placing them just ahead of Towell Boyd on a score of 371.5. Tensions were high as the first round leader, Crolick, entered the ring. Piloting an effortless track with Chase’s Chappy, a 10-year-old Mecklenburg gelding, judges rewarded Crolick with a score of 192.5 for a winning 374.5 score, leaving Schatt in second place with Cascartini, and Towell Boyd in third with Cassico.
Chappy is a fairly new partnership for Crolick, only joining his team in February of 2021 when Chase purchased him to be her Adult 2’6’’ Hunter horse. Previously ridden by a friend, Callie Schott, Crolick had his eye on the 10-year-old gelding for over a year before taking over the reins and discovering the special horse’s impressive scope that could easily transfer over into the International Derbies and beyond.
Hunter competition will come to a close Sunday, April 4 with the Adult Amateur Hunters taking to the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring in the afternoon. Sunday will also mark the conclusion of the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Greg Crolick – $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby winner
“One of my adult clients, [Carole Chase], just got him a few months ago down here. We had been looking for a year for a horse for her and a good friend of mind, Callie Schott, was riding him when I saw him a year ago. Then, I saw him again down here and we went for it!”
On competing on the grass:
“It rode really beautiful both days, yesterday and today. The horses went great and the course was gorgeous – very flowing and very smooth. I just went in there today and had a great round and it felt great!”
On the handy course:
“My plan was to be as handy as I could, but as careful as I could and not over do it and not lose the lead so that I could maintain the lead after the second round. Only doing two high options was my plan, and trying to be as smooth as possible.”
On his goals with Chappy:
“His job is actually to do the 2’6” with the adult, but we were delighted when we found out the horse has so much more ability and so much more scope, so I think it might be quite exciting to plan on doing USHJA International Derby Finals with him. He is really just a 3’6” horse, but obviously he wants to rise to the occasion! I did the derby during Week 6 and Week 9 here and he was really just new to doing it all, but yesterday and today he really just came out and did wonderful.”
On ending the season on a win:
“It feels wonderful! You keep plugging along and you are always in the hunt you hope. Some days are good and some days are bad, but today was absolutely wonderful and I am really happy for the client and my sponsors. It takes a huge team to do this. The other horse I rode, [Handwritten], was also wonderful. I just want to thank my clients, sponsors, grooms and everyone that goes into it!”
$50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby:
Place / Rider / Horse / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Chappy / Greg Crolick / Carole Chase / 182 / 192.5 | 374.5
2. Cascartini / Havens Schatt / Ken and Amy Wexler LLC / 177 / 194.5 | 371.5
3. Cassico / Elizabeth Towell Boyd / Rebekah Warren / 175 / 195 | 370
4. Gabriel / Victoria Colvin / J T Farm / 169.5 / 200 | 369.5
5. Symbolic / Tessa Downey / Bella Kay / 170.1 / 193 / 363.1
6. Addison / Sloane Coles / Catherine Wheeler / 167 / 194 | 361
7. Testify / Kelley Farmer / Rock Ridge Farms / 167.5 / 187 | 354.5
8. Poker Face / Jennifer Bliss / Harris Hill Farm, LLC / 170.5 | 349.5
9. Mindful / Jennifer Hannan / Kensel, LLC / 172 / 174 | 346
10. Grazie / Alexa Elle Lignelli / The Lignelli Family / 167.501 / 179 | 346.5
11. True Blue / Caitlin Venezia / Jennifer Combs / 166.25 / 164 | 330.25
12.Handwritten / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 170.501 / 95 | 265.5