Wellington, Fla. – March 12, 2022 – Hunter competition came to a pinnacle during Week 9 of the 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) with the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby taking center stage in the Stadium Derby Field of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. Thirty-nine top athletes and their mounts put their names forward for the winning prize, but it was Jennifer Hannan and Mindful who rose to the top of the leaderboard at the conclusion of two rounds of competition.
Course designer Tom Carlson (USA) crafted the first round track set across the spacious field. Twelve natural fences, which included four high-option fences that were offered for those willing to take on an added challenge for one additional point per high-option taken, made up the first round classic, hunter-style course that served as an initial test of each horses’ style and skill. The two panels of judges searched for correct movement and form over each obstacle, rewarding combinations for seamless rounds that showcased fluidity throughout. At the conclusion of round one, it was Hannan and Mindful that led the pack on a score of 188, with Hannah Isop and Red Ryder following behind on 187.5. Rounding out the top three after all entries were accounted for in round one was Kelley Farmer and Meaningful, who posted a score of 185 for their first round effort.
Twelve horse-and-rider pairs were invited to return for the second round, a handy round. Carlson’s second round track composed of nine fences featured a trot fence, four high-option jumps and plenty of opportunities for athletes to show off their horses handiness. Seeking consistency through changes in pace and track, Victoria Colvin and El Primero were the first to contest over the handy course, earning an impressive 192 from the judges for a total of 363.
As the second round continued, a shuffle in the ranks would occur. The top three, however, would remain strong in their positions. Farmer and Meaningful, a 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Emma Vandenhouten, would post a 193.5 to the scoreboard for a total of 378.5. Riding Tracy Freels’ Red Ryder, an 18-year-old Selle Francais gelding, Isop bettered Farmer’s score with a handy score of 201 for a total of 388.5. Finally, Hannan and Mindful earned a whopping second round score of 205 to land on a 393 total to take home the leading prize by nearly four points. Farmer and Isop would settle for their original positions of second and third place, respectively.
Hannan and the Hanoverian gelding owned by Kensel, LLC have been partnered together for four years now. At the ripe age of 18-years-old, Mindful is reserved for the International Derby classes at this point in his career. Hannan hopes to continue her partnership with Mindful and plans to compete in the $50,000 USHJA International Derby during Week 11 of WEF before taking the talented gelding to the Devon Horse Show and Upperville Colt & Horse Show this spring.
Hunter competition will continue Sunday, March 13 at 8:00 a.m. with the Amateur Owner 3’6” Hunter 36+ division resuming in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring. Adult Amatuer Hunter riders will wrap up their division in the Rost Arena, and Junior Hunter and Pony Hunter divisions will also see the conclusion of their competition for WEF 9.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Jennifer Hannan – $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby winner
On round one:
“I just wanted to be smooth and stick to my plan. I know my horse really well and we are on the same wavelength. I just wanted to be smooth and put in a nice, solid round.”
On round two :
“Of course there is pressure coming back on top. I knew there were no options for me – I needed to take all the inside turns and jump the high-options. So again, my plan was just to stick to my goal and relax as much as I could and take as slim of a track as I could.”
“He does everything well. He is really a winner. At this point in his career, he is 18 years old this year, we just aim for just [the International Derby] classes. He has the best personality. He is a little quirky, but he is so well behaved. He is like a dog in the barn and he will follow me and talk to me when I come in the barn. I have ridden him for about four years now, so I have had him for a while now. We work really well together and know each other. I always feel honored to ride him.”
On the weather:
“I personally was a little concerned about the weather, but Mindful didn’t care.”
On her plans for the future with Mindful:
“We will do the $50,000 [USHJA International Hunter Derby] during Week 11, then we will aim to do Devon and Upperville.”
$50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Mindful / Jennifer Hannan / Kensel, LLC / 188 / 205 | 393
2. Red Ryder / Hannah Isop / Tracy Freels / 187.5 / 201 | 388.5
3. Meaningful / Kelley Farmer / Emma Vandenhouten / 185 / 193.5 | 378.5
4. Private I / Michael Britt-Leon / Kelly Sims / 184 / 192 | 376
5. Poker Face / Jennifer Bliss / Harris Hill Farm, LLC / 180 / 187 | 367
6. Unbelievable / Jacob Pope / Forget Me Not Farm / 171.5 / 195 | 366.5
7. El Primero / Victoria Colvin / Meralex Farm, Inc. / 171 / 192 | 363
8. Milagro / John French / Kent Fattington LLC / 181.25 / 180 | 361.25
9. Chappy / Greg Crolick / Carole Chase / 177.75 / 181 | 358.75
10. Calisto / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 174.5 / 183 | 357.5
11. Odyssey / Eleese Shillingford / Eleese Shillingford / 171.5 / 168 | 339.5
12. Gabriel / Victoria Colvin / J T Farm / 181 / 109 | 290