Wellington, FL – March 13, 2021 – Hunter competitors took center stage Saturday morning during Week Nine of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) as 41 talented horse and rider pairs vied for top honors in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. Hosted at the picturesque Stadium Derby Field at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, hunter horses were in their element as they showcased their skill and finesse around the expansive field. Topping the field of competitors to claim both first and second place was veteran derby competitor Victoria Colvin aboard two of her trusted mounts Gabriel and El Primero, respectively.
Tom Carlson set forth a 12-obstacle first round course to narrow down to the top 12 competitors who would advance to the second round of competition. Filled with natural obstacles, rolling turns and four high option fences, the first round offered plenty of opportunities for riders to show-off their horses’ talents. Emerging in the leading position following the first round was Havens Schatt who piloted Cascartini to a total score of 185.01. Colvin followed close behind after earning the same first round total score of 185 with JT Farms’ Gabriel, with the tie breaker coming from Schatt’s higher base score from judging panel one. Colvin also claimed the third position at the conclusion of the first round aboard El Primero with a total score of 183.5.
The second round brought back the top 12 competitors to compete over a shortened, eight-obstacle handy track. With just 3 points separating the top five contenders, the win was anyone’s for the taking. The handy round allowed riders to really impress the judging panel as they tackled tight rollback turns, a trot fence, and high option fences to earn valuable handy bonus points. The tight scoring allowed room for movement in the placings amongst competitors throughout the second round. Cooper Dean and Rock Ridge Farms’ Testify was one of the pairs to make an impressive move up the leaderboard, climbing from fifth to second place after receiving a handy round score of 194 to finish with an overall score of 376.
Heading into the final few competitors, Colvin and El Primero, owned by Meralex Farm, Inc., also climbed the ranks to move into the leading position after earning an impressive handy round score of 202, finishing on a total score of 385.5. Colvin and Gabriel, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, were the penultimate pair to contend for top honors, putting down a textbook round to finish on a total handy score of 203 and an overall score of 388 to unseat her own lead. In a final attempt to remain on the top of the leaderboard, Schatt and Cascartini, owned by Ken and Amy Wexler LLC, entered the ring confident, but had an unfortunate rail on course to ultimately lend Colvin victorious.
In the end, Colvin would take both first and second place honors riding Gabriel and El Primero, respectively. Colvin has a strong partnership with both mounts, having competed with Gabriel for the last three years up the ranks of the green hunter divisions, now campaigning in the second-year green division. El Primero, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, took a break from competing during the 2020 show season due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but made his derby comeback with Colvin a memorable one. After his impressive jump from fifth place in the handy round, Dean and Testify rounded out the top three.
Hunter competition during Week Nine of the Winter Equestrian Festival will conclude Sunday, March 14, beginning at 8am.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Victoria Colvin – $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby winner
On her top-two finish:
“I have only done one derby on Gabriel and with El Primero not doing it in a while, I was expecting them to go well but to come out with this result is great. There were a lot of great horses out there, a couple of them had bad luck so I got maybe a little lucky, but they both performed well and went well for me today.”
On the handy round:
“I had the same strategy on both horses. I didn’t actually walk the handy round because I didn’t think there was really anything handy, but I didn’t realize that the turn after the trot jump was so tight. When I landed on El Primero I had to turn really tight, so I planned it a little better with Gabriel. It didn’t make too much of a difference between the two because I got the same amount of handy points with both.”
“I’ve been showing him for a couple of years now. I competed with him as a pre-green horse and a first-year green, and he is a second-year green horse now. Ellen [Toon] competes with him in the amateur division as well, so he is an overall really nice horse. I’ve only done a couple of derbies with him, and a couple other professionals have competed with him because they go to Ocala and other shows. He’s a really nice horse.“
On El Primero:
“He hasn’t done a derby in over a year, and I think he has only done one or two classes in the last year. We will do the derby during Week 12 of WEF and gear up to do a couple of derbies throughout the rest of the year. He’s been doing nothing because of COVID-19, so he was great out there today. He couldn’t have done better!”
On what’s next:
“I think the first horse show will be the [Aiken Charity Horse Show], but I think that will be about a month after WEF ends, so we are just going to chill here and see what happens. Every day it changes, so I don’t think we are going to make a plan, we are just going to ride every day out.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Gabriel / Victoria Colvin / JT Farm / 185 / 203 | 388
2. El Primero / Victoria Colvin / Meralex Farm, Inc. / 183.5 / 202 | 385.5
3. Testify / Cooper Dean / Rock Ridge Farms / 182 / 194 | 376
4. Zalandra / Hannah Isop / Harry Littler / 176.01 / 199 | 375
5. Diatendro / Havens Schatt / Kelly Corrigan / 175.5 / 190 | 365.5
6. Copernicus K / Tiffany Morrissey / Dr. Kathryn Withers / 180 / 184 | 364
7. Mindful / Jennifer Hannan / Kensel, LLC / 182.25 / 180.5 | 362.75
8. Someday / Laena Romond / Rachel Suna Britchkow / 176 / 177 | 353
9. Golden Rule / Stephanie Danhakl / Stephanie Danhakl / 170.5 / 179 | 349.5
10. Handwritten / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 170.01 / 162 | 332
11. Fedora / Maria Rasmussen / Julianne Karol / 171 / 119 | 290
12. Cascartini / Havens Schatt / Ken and Amy Wexler LLC / 185.01 / 103 | 288