USHJA Kicks Off International Hunter Derby Finals with Welcome Reception, Awards and Calcutta

August 16, 2012

Lexington, KY - With less than 24 hours until the first round of the 2012 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals riders, owners and grooms got the opportunity to relax and fraternize at a special Welcome Reception hosted by presenting sponsor Shawna Dietrich of Dietrich Equine Insurance.

Bill Moroney, president of USHJA, thanked Shawna and Dietrich Equine Insurance for their continued support of the program, "Since its inception, Dietrich Equine Insurance has been a sponsor and provided ongoing support during the series and finals over the years, USHJA greatly appreciates all they do."

Ron Danta, Chairman of the High Performance Committee, presented three highly coveted awards. He started with the presentation of the George H. Morris Perpetual Trophy, donated by Diane Carney to honor the leading horse of the Derby series.

"For three years in row Jersey Boy and Jen Alfano have won this prestigious trophy. As we all know winning this award just one time is feat we all could hope for, to win this three years in a row is almost beyond belief. This year however, we have a new title winner for this award. We are pleased to present this trophy to Taken ridden by Kelley Farmer and owned by Jessica Stitt." Danta announced.

Farmer stepped forward to accept the honor, saying, "Wow-What an honor. He’s a fantastic partner and I’m so fortunate and grateful to Jessica for giving me the ride."

Taken and Farmer amassed an impressive $65,583 in the 2011/2012 Qualifying Series. The pair competed in 17 International Derby classes and chalked up five wins and 13 top 12 placings.

Joining Danta for the next award was Lynn Jayne, President of the USHJA Foundation, and Shawna Dietrich, President of Dietrich Equine Insurance to present the Emerson Burr Perpetual Trophy –also donated by Diane Carney. This trophy along with a $500 cash award provided by Dietrich, is presented to the Leading Rider of the International Hunter Derby 2011/2012 Qualifying Series.

"This year’s winner collected a staggering $189,367 – in the HUNTER ring! Congratulations Kelley Farmer." Danta said.

Based in Keswick, VA Farmer competed in 26 Derbies aboard 16 different mounts with five victories and 34 top 12 placings. "I have only my horses and my owners to thank, without them I wouldn’t be standing here. And I have to say USHJA has created something great with this Derby program. It’s fantastic to see hunters bringing people out- making the rings lively and exciting for owners, people watching the derbies and the riders." Farmer said.

The final award of the evening is a new one- the Emerging Professional High Earner-provided by an anonymous donor, this award is to honor the young pro between the ages of 21 and 35. Criteria for the award is that a rider may not have competed or placed in an FEI Grand Prix (excluding Young Riders), never won the Legacy Cup Restricted Pro Final, Emerging Pro Challenge at the Capital Challenge horse show and has never been Champion or Reserve Champion in a Professional Hunter section at 3’6 or higher at any of the following events: Royal Winter Fair, Menlo Charity, Del Mar National, Desert Circuit WCHR Member Event, Devon, Capital Challenge, Pennsylvania National Horse Show, Washington International Horse Show or The National Horse Show. The inaugural winner for the 2011/2012 season is Courtney Calcagnini. Hope Glenn represented the Young Professional’s Committee and presented Courtney with $500 and an engraved picture frame as a keeper trophy.

Next up was the much anticipated Derby Calcutta with 50% of all funds donated going to benefit the USHJA Foundation Horseman’s Assistance Fund. But before the Calcutta kicked off there was a very special presentation made to the USHJA Foundation, Ila Lemonis and Kimberly Penfold of Camping World donated $10,000 to support the work of the USHJA Foundation.

With the giving bar set high the bidding began, and the carrot of the remaining 50% of Calcutta bids becoming the jackpot, hands were popping up all around in the hope of winning one of the eight Calcutta teams (each team was made up of approx. 10 Derby Finals horses). This year there will be two big winners: pick the team that includes the horse who is Overall Derby Finals Champion and receive 70% of the jackpot and the bidder whose team includes the horse that wins the Consolation Competition receives 30% of the jackpot. Now if you’re truly lucky and the Consolation team you bid on happens to include the Overall Derby Finals winning horse- you’ll walk away with 100% of the jackpot!

The evening’s big bidder was Laura Mateo who happily spent $8,000 to land Team Six, which includes these exceptional horses; Taken, Clearly, Amadeo, Rex the Wonder Horse, Ovation, Uncle Luc, Mamba, Celebrate, and Eloise. However, the biggest winner this evening is the USHJA Foundation Horseman’s Assistance Fund with the Calcutta raising $40,600 from bids.

The Classic Hunter Round will kick off tomorrow morning at 8:00am with 81 entries. Keep up to date on the action by following the USHJA on Twitter and Facebook!

If you can’t make it to the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park to watch the Derby Finals in person- no worries! USEF Network will be live streaming all of Saturday’s action, beginning at 4:00PM with the Consolation Competition followed by the exciting Handy Hunter round that will determine who gets bragging rights as the 2012 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals Champion.

Visit the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals webpage for schedule, courses and order of go.

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