Lexington, KY - May 19, 2012- The $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby saw nothing short of fierce competition this evening in the Stonelea Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. It was Lourdes de Guardiola and Autumn Rhythm who rode to the top of the leader board with two fantastic rounds, catching the judges' eyes and being dually rewarded for their tremendous efforts. Ashley Hotz and Summer Catch eventually were presented with the red ribbon for their efforts and an overall score of 178 points, while Louise Serio took the third place prize aboard Corvine.
Riders were tested over a classic hunter course designed by Bobby Murphy, and the top 12 scoring combinations advanced into the handy hunter round. The course was skillfully set, and was evocative of a hunt field. The two-round course included stonewalls, oxers, standalone verticals, gates, brushes and a vertical-oxer line. Four high options were offered to the riders as a way of earning additional points on their base scores.
Guardiola posted an early lead during the first round, entering the ring as the eighth rider to attempt the course. Her first round score of 90 definitely caught the onlookers' attention as she produced a careful and consistent round aboard Autumn Rhythm. "He needs a simple ride," Guardiola smiled. "He is very brave-the less you do, the better. He has a great rhythm, and honestly you just point, and he is there. He has a great personality, and we hope to see him continue his success."
Nilani Trent of New York, NY, only bought the six-year-old about three weeks ago from Angela Lawrence of Canada, who had the gelding imported from Belgium. The Kentucky Spring Series was his first time showing in the United States. He was awarded the Kentucky Spring Horse Show Pre-Green Hunter Championship, and with his consistency throughout the show, trainer Michael Morrissey and Guardiola decided to try their chances at the derby.
Upon returning for the handy round, Guardiola used her mount's consistent canter to her advantage. The pair once again opted to take all four options, which were added to her base score of 89. Her overall score put the horse and rider at the top of the rankings with a total of 179 points, and they led the evening's victory gallop. "The course was great, especially for a young horse. It was simple, but it made you think a bit. He has such a consistent pace, and I think it really gave us a little extra for the handy," Guardiola stated.
It was Ashley Hotz of Wellington, FL, aboard her mount Summer Catch, who posted the high score of the event. Although her score from the first round was an 84, placing her sixth in the return, the rider left nothing to chance as she demonstrated handiness and earned the top score of 94. She secured the second place position with an overall score of 178 points. "I really liked my handy round, I thought he really stepped it up," Hotz described. "He was very tidy in his inside turns, and I thought he did them very well. It was a really fun course."
"With Summer Catch, you just have to pick up the gallop and not do too much," Hotz elaborated. "You just have to let him do his own thing. He is very tidy and fun to ride. He is easy to the jumps on and has a really nice canter."
Louise Serio returned for the second round course with a first-round score of 89 points. She once again navigated the five-year-old Corvine, owned by Timothy Wicks of Unionville, PA, to the impressive score of 88. She steered the gelding over all of the possible options in both the first round and the handy. Her overall score of 177 proved only good enough for the third place award. Serio still leads the Hallway Feeds Leading Rider Series, where she will compete against other professional riders for the $10,000 Leading Rider Bonus.
"My horse was great again this week," Serio stated. "He was a little green in the first round, but I was thrilled with how he went. He steps right up and loves the whole idea of the ceremony to it." Serio added, "I thought that the handy tonight was just right. They did a great job keeping it challenging, but also making it accessible to the varying level of riders. It is a great way to prepare to step up into the next levels of the sport."
Junior rider Maryann Osborne of Mentor, OH, guided Mine to the fourth place award with a two-round score of 171 points, and was followed closely by Maria Rasmussen aboard Laredo, owned by Redfield Farm of Ocala, FL, who posted a score of 169 points. It was Shawn Casady who picked up the sixth place award riding Without Question, owned by Ponies & Palms Show Stables of Boca Raton, FL, to the overall score of 157 points.
This was the second of six National Hunter Derbies sponsored by Hallway Feeds, featuring $15,000 Leading Rider Bonuses for professional, junior and amateur riders. The competitors can look forward to the chance to participate throughout the summer, where they can aspire to climb the ranks and claim the bonus.
Tomorrow will conclude the Junior Hunters as the champions are named in their divisions. It has been a fantastic two weeks of competition at the Kentucky Horse Park, and riders will return to vie for the top honors during the Kentucky Summer Series beginning in July.
For more information about the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows or to download the prize list, please go to www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
$5,000 HALLWAY FEEDS USHJA NATIONAL HUNTER DERBY
Pl Nbr Horse Rider Final
1 1085 AUTUMN RHYTHM LOURDES DE GUARDIOLA 179.000
2 545 SUMMER CATCH ASHLEY HOTZ 178.000
3 1127 CORVINE LOUISE SERIO 177.000
4 1054 MINE MARYANN OSBORNE 171.000
5 244 LAREDO MARIA RASMUSSEN 169.000
6 1133 WITHOUT QUESTION SHAWN CASADY 157.000
7 792 PETER PAN EMMA HEISE 154.000
8 1141 THE NEW YORKER BIANCA BUSCHOR 153.000
9 1216 HIGHER GROUND MACKENZIE MACLEAN 150.000
10 1097 ZIDER HALEY ZIMMERMAN 142.000
11 1130 BOLERO SHAWN CASADY 141.000
12 1099 CHICANO LS SARAH KENT 115.000
Photo Credit: Lourdes de Guardiola and Autumn Rhythm won the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby at the Kentucky Spring Classic. Photo By: Kendall Bierer/PMG.