This year's $50,000 USHJA/Chronicle of the Horse International Hunter Derby will be held on Friday and Saturday, April 2-3. It is a two round competition. The first round, previously scheduled to be held at The Stadium on the grass field, will now be held in the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring on Friday at approximately 3 p.m. The second round of the top 25 is still at the International Arena. The competition will follow the FTI WEF Circuit Champion Awards, which is slated to start at approximately 6:30 p.m.
The decision to move the venue for Round One of the derby was due mainly to logistics for the riders and trainers that came forward regarding finishing the show day and getting a horse prepared in time to do the derby, said show manager David Burton Jr. The majority of the riders entered in the class are in agreement that the new location will serve the class and exhibitors better, although most were looking forward to showing on the grass derby field. Since the change has been announced, entries in the class increased from 38 to 48 horses.
USHJA High Performance Hunter Committee member Geoff Teall said, "I think the reason we would like to change venue is twofold: One, because logistically it's difficult for exhibitors and spectators to get back and forth on that particular day to take part in or watch the class because the horse show is also going on at the same time. Two, we feel that there will be some people that don't choose to do the derby if it's on the grass. They won't feel confident in their horses this early in the year to be able to take that on."
Teall continued, "We feel that ESP has really supported this with a huge amount of prize money and effort in this class, and as a result of those reasons, we want to support them and give them the biggest and best class that we can give them. That ultimately is the reason for having a conversation about it."
USHJA High Performance Committee Chairman Ron Danta also said, "The field is beautiful and would make a beautiful course, but it would be difficult to set a course where the two sets of judges would be able to see the take-off and landing of every jump. That's one of the biggest things that we consider for derbies, is that judges have full view of all of the jumps. It's best for the judges and it's the fairest way for the competitors. We feel that this is the best thing to do for the class. For the derby program, it is a very good decision to move."
Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) is looking forward to hosting the best International Hunter Derby this year and is pleased to have made a change that suits the exhibitors and spectators for the best possible event.
For more information on the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, please visit www.equestriansport.com.
Photo: Geoff Teall by Diana DeRosa