Temecula, Calif. – May 23, 2021 – Competitors took to the Grand Hunter Arena for one last shot at gold during the first of three weeks of Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National Series, presented by Interactive Mortgage. 16 horse-and-rider pairs put on their Sunday best for the $2,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby sponsored by Voltaire. Familiar faces returned to the arena to showcase their exceptional handiwork and spiffy style. After laying down the second-highest scoring classic round and topping her efforts in the handy with the highest score of the day, it was Michelle Morris and Lykke Li-Terma Z that stole the show and the first place podium.
The perfectly turned out mounts and their riders took to Skip Bailey’s 10-effort course set in the stunning and newly renovated Grand Hunter Arena for the classic round. Mimi Harwell was the first to navigate the course which featured four high options. She and Alexa Collins’ 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Gold Coast, laid down an impressively confident round earning a score of 86 from the judges with their rhythmic movement and proper form. The pair came back eager to showcase their maneuverability over Bailey’s winding handy course. The pair left nothing on the table and upped their game walking away with a 92, one of the highest handy round scores of the day, and closing out their week of competition with a total score of 178 which would prove good enough to take the third place podium.
Coming off of a championship finish in the High Performance Hunter division earlier in the week aboard Ka-Ching, Michelle Morris returned hoping to add another feather in her cap, this time with Ava Park’s 8-year-old Zangersheide mare, Lykke Li-Terma Z. Originally purchased for Morris’ client, Park, the talented young mare competes in the 2’6” divisions with her owner and the 3’9” green division with Morris. Though the mare just started to dabble in derbies this year and was not as seasoned as some of the other mounts, Lykke Li-Terma Z put in a flawless classic round taking center stage with her eager expression, textbook form, and unique style. The pair entered their handy round sitting on a whopping score of 90. Still testing the waters with her newer partner, Morris gave it her all, taking all four high options and giving the best performance of the day. The duo closed out the class and their week of competition with an uncatchable handy round score of 93 and an overall score of 183.
Though Morris’ daunting scores seemed to be far out of reach, Lindsay Ransom took to the ring with gold on her mind. She and Mary Drake’s 9-year-old Westphalian gelding, Fascination, aimed to one-up Morris’ classic round score of 90. The duo was successful in their endeavors, receiving a score of 91 from the judges. The eye-catching grey showcased the perfect balance of flashiness and finesse in the ring heading into the handy round with a solid chance at the blue. The pair took no chances jumping all four high options adding precious points to their final score. Though they were dead on the money scoring a 91, their combined total score of 181 was not enough to unseat Morris from the first place podium and the duo settled into second place.
Riders return to the Nilforushan Equisport Events’ Temecula Valley National II on Wednesday, May 26 with the first day of hunter division competition. Jumper competition kicks off in the Grand Prix Arena with the $5,000 1.35m Welcome.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Michelle Morris – Winner of the $2,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby sponsored by Voltaire
On Lykke Li-Terma Z:
“One of my clients, Ava Park owns her, and she actually shows her in the 2’6” division. She is pretty cool, and has a great temperament to do the 2’6” with her. Then I can do her in some of the open divisions. This is the first year we started experimenting with derbies and she has really taken a liking to it. She is 8-years-old and does the 3’9” Green division as well so it is kind of fun experimenting a little bit with her and I think she is really starting to get it and is just really fun to ride.”
On prepping for the derby:
“I hacked her in the ring and it is just part of our routine. We get in and hack for a few minutes. We don’t have to do a ton. It is just so that the horses can all take a breath and so that they can get comfortable in the ring and see the surrounding elements. Just a little flat in the morning and then they are ready to go.”
On showing at Nilforushan Equisport Events:
“It is really great. I have been having so much fun showing here this week. Everything from the presentations to the courses, which have been really fun to ride also, makes a huge difference when you go in the ring and you are excited to ride a course. It definitely adds another element, and winning was just icing on the cake. It was really special and I have had a great time showing here all week.”
$2,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby sponsored by Voltaire
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Lykke Li-Terma Z / Michelle Morris / Ava Park / 90 / 93 | 183
2. Fascination / Lindsay Ransom / Mary Drake / 91 / 90 | 181
3. Gold Coast / Mimi Harwell / Alexa Collins / 86 / 92 | 178
4. Celebration / Lindsay Ransom / Mountain View Farms, LLC / 88 / 88 | 176
5. Hand Painted / Gretchen Lof / The Lof Family / 84 / 84 | 168
6. Danke Schoen / Gretchen Lof / Stephanie Linnenkamp / 83 / 82 | 165
7. Ka-Ching / Melissa Sklenar / Melissa Sklenar / 87 / 68 | 155
8. Aristocat / Natalie James / Natalie James / 74 / 76 | 150
9. Quikeur / Morgan Thomas / Norgan, Inc / 85 / 61 | 146
10. Karismo / Kathy Spano / Kathy Spano / 75 / 69 | 144
11. Charismo / Molly Brock / Molly Brock / 85.5 / 39 | 124.5
12. Barnette / Savannah Jenkins / Rebecca Menco / 77 / 44 | 121