Lexington, KY – July 31, 2022 – Sunday was all about the Junior-Amateur competitors to close out the first week of Kentucky Summer at the Kentucky Horse Park. Both the hunter and jumper divisions were highlighted by the young athletes and their mounts bringing their unique skill sets to the table to vie for the top spot in their respective classes. For the hunters, the StoneLea ring played host to twenty-nine horse-and-rider athlete combinations to try their hand at the Junior-Amateur USHJA National Hunter Derby. At the conclusion of the talented class, Mackenzie Carreras and Cornet’s Diamond stood alone at the top of the leaderboard to take home the blue ribbon. Anna Koenig and Constantin followed closely behind in second, while Avery Reid and Fleetwood VDL rounded out the top three.
The National Hunter Derby Program was launched in 2010 to provide both horses and riders a place to gain experience in Derby competition that aren’t quite ready to enter the International Hunter Derby classes. In the two-round format, a minimum of two judges utilize the open numerical system to score competitors in the Classic Hunter Round (first round) on performance, hunter pace, jumping style, quality and substance, and movement. In addition, the top 12 scoring horse-and-rider combinations are eligible to return for the Hunter Handy Round (second round) where the base score reflects brilliance of pace and handiness.
Carreras and her own 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding got off to a great start in the first round of competition on the Kevin Holowack (CAN) designed course. Holowack, a competitive rider himself, put together a nine-effort first round track that included a double combination, as well as three high options for the riders to potentially earn bonus points. Carreras took to the track in confident fashion, presenting high level skill both in the tack and over the obstacles. The pair’s precision did not let up in the handy round, impressing the panel of judges with their consistent pace and jumping style, earning them a total score of 170 points to secure the win.
Anna Koenig and Constantin put in a solid effort of their own to try and overtake the top spot, but ultimately came up 2 points short and settled into second place with a total score of 168 points. Koenig, who rode two separate mounts in the class, was able to learn from her mistakes on her first ride aboard Voodoo. Mounting Constantin as one of the last to go in the first round, Koenig laid down a beautiful ride with the 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Ashland Farms. Taking that momentum into the handy round, the pair maneuvered the track effortlessly, making it known that their future together is bright.
Just four points separated the leaderboard finishers and it was Avery Reid and Steven Macken’s Fleetwood VDL taking third place with a total score of 166 points. Just as Koeing, Reid also had two different mounts entered in the class. The opportunity to learn from her first ride proved to be advantageous when she took the ring for the second time aboard the 12-year-old KWPN gelding. A stellar effort in the first round awarded the pair the opportunity to come back for the handy round, where they demonstrated rhythmic cadence and top jumping form to land them with the yellow ribbon.
Competition at the Kentucky Summer Horse Show Series will resume on Tuesday, August 2, with the kick-off of the Kentucky Summer Classic. The highlight events of the week in the hunter division will include several Grand Hunter Championship titles, as well as the USHJA National Hunter Derby slated to take place in the StoneLea ring Saturday, August 6.