Stewart And Dedication Dominate During USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals Qualifying

Catch the Finals live Saturday night on the USEF Network!


August 17, 2012

Lexington, KY – If Scott Stewart had a moment of déjà vu today it would be understandable. After 81 contenders concluded the qualifying round of the $115,000 United States Hunter Jumper Association International Hunter Derby Finals, presented by Dietrich Equine Insurance, it was Stewart who finished the Classic Hunter Round on top, just as he had last year.

This time, however, his best performer was one of his less experienced mounts, the 7-year-old Holsteiner Dedication, owned by Fashion Farm.
The bay gelding soared over Steve Stephens’ beautifully designed and built course, jumping brilliantly and galloping confidently to a score of 285 points from the panel of six judges.
Although the pair has a six-point lead going into tomorrow’s Final Handy Hunter Round, Stewart faces some serious competition as two Derby veteran partnerships—Liza Boyd and Brunello and Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy—are sitting in second and third places, respectively.

“Dedication was way better than I thought he’d be because he’s still pretty green,” said Stewart. “He sort of helped me out of the bending nine-stride line because I got a little lost. But I was really happy with him. The course was a lot harder than it walked.”
The Classic Round featured a track of 14 obstacles that simulated the fences found in the hunt field—such as logs, straw bales and stone walls—with heights ranging from 3’6 to 4’. The course offered riders an opportunity to pick up bonus points by taking any one or all of the four optional fences set from 4’ to 4’3.

The judges included Rob Bielefeld, Linda Hough, Betty Oare, Patrick Rodes, Geoff Teall and Scott Williamson, who were split into panels of two and placed in strategic positions around the Kentucky Horse Park’s Sheila C. Johnson Ring in the Rolex Stadium.

The riders raved about this year’s Classic Round, which offered many opportunities for veterans to show off their talents while also providing a safe and inviting course for greener horses and riders to tackle.

“When you looked at it on paper, it looked a little easy,” said Boyd, who took three of the four higher options with Brunello for a score of 279. “[My brother] Hardin [Towell] made a good point, he said, ‘Liza, Steve designed the Olympics. He’ll throw some tricks in there, and you’re not going to realize unless you really think about it. He’s got a plan’ he’s going to trick you into things!’ He did an amazing job.”

Boyd and Towell, both of Camden, SC, successfully negotiated Stephens’ tests and qualified within the top 30 who will contest the Handy Hunter Round tomorrow night under the lights. Boyd will be aboard Brunello as well as Quatrain, who placed 13th, while Towell took 19th aboard Yes Indeed.

Alfano, of Buffalo, N.Y., was thrilled to qualify third aboard SBS Farm’s star Derby contender Jersey Boy. Alfano experienced some bad luck last year and didn’t qualify for the second round with the flashy chestnut, but this time misfortune came earlier in the day aboard her mount Miss Lucy, who pulled a rail.
“That’s so unlike her; it’s not a mistake that she makes really,” said Alfano, who rallied with Jersey Boy for score of 278.75. “He felt really, really great. I thought the course rode really nice for him, because you could just keep flowing everywhere. It all felt good, and I’m excited for tomorrow.”
Stewart is also looking forward to the Handy Round, which tests the field on brilliance and handiness. The highest-scoring horse from the Classic Hunter and Handy Hunter rounds combined is crowned the 2012 USHJA International Hunter Derby Champion.
Stewart, of Wellington, FL, who placed second last year, hopes this is his time to shine in the Derby Finals.

“I’m a little nervous going late in the order because I’ve never had a good class under the lights with him,” said Stewart, who also has Garfield qualified in the fifth slot. “[Dedication] is still really green. I’m hoping he matures a little bit by tomorrow night! He never does anything really bad, but he could get a little looky. He can pretty much jump any jump you want or any angle, so he’s really good about that.”

Professional Kelley Farmer, the 2011-12 Derby Series Money Won victor, was the busiest rider today and qualified five of her six mounts for the top 30. She stands sixth with Bases Loaded, Seventh with Clearly, eighth with Taken, 20th with Red Sky and 29th with Vox.

The 2011 Derby Finals winner Lillie Keenan finished the Classic Round as the top-placed Junior Owner/Rider with her Monterrey, while Victoria Colvin finished as the top-placed junior in 10th aboard Inclusive.

Kaitlin Campbell, a recent star in the grand prix jumper ring, showed her prowess in the hunters with October Road and received the top Amateur Rider Award after placing 14th.

With the top 30 pairs returning for action on Saturday, August 18 for $100,000 in prize money, you can watch the excitement live on the Internet. The USHJA, in partnership with the USEF Network, is providing a free live webcast of the evening’s activities, beginning at 4 p.m. with the newest feature of the Derby Finals, the $15,000 Consolation Competition. The highest-scoring horses from the Classic Hunter Round that did not otherwise qualify for the Derby Finals Handy Hunter Round will be invited back for their own second round over a handy course. The top-scoring horse from the Classic Hunter and Consolation Competition will take home the top prize, generously supported by Moyer Farm, LLC.
The cut-off score for today’s top 30 was 228.85 points, earned by Lauren Sogard aboard Concerto. Professional Gary Young will lead the way in the Consolation Competition tomorrow as he carries forward 228.50 points with Gold Coast.


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 p.m. 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 website for more information about the USHJA International Hunter Derby Series and Finals.

The 2012 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals is generously sponsored by: Presenting Sponsor: Dietrich Equine Insurance; Official Ulcer Remedy: UlcerGard; Consolation Round Donor: Moyer Farm, LLC.; Official Helmet and Major Sponsor: Charles Owen Inc.; Awards Sponsors: Dover Saddlery, Essex Classics, The Clothes Horse, Grand Prix/Pikeur/Konigs, Ann Hubbards Tack Shop, Ariat, SmartPak, G4 Marketing, Diane Carney and Telluride Farms and McGuinn Farms; Hospitality Sponsor: Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital; Jump Sponsors: EquiFit, inc., Chansonette Farm, Equestrian Sport Productions, Glassy Mountain Farm, The Gochman Family, MacLean Family & The Franktown Meadows Hunter Derby, Queenie Productions, R. Bruce Duchossios & H ‘n D Stables, Inc., SBS Farms Inc. & Helen Lenahan, USHJA High Performance Hunter Committee.

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