East Dorset, Vermont — Marylisa Leffler of Brookeville, MD, and Zivago won the $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby held Thursday evening, July 24, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.
Leffler and Zivago earned a first round high score of 86 before posting an 84 in the handy round for the win on Thursday evening. Leffler also finished fourth with Paulexi LLC’s Ufonia P.
Sloane Coles nearly picked up her second major win of the day after winning the $10,000 Overland Sheepskin Company Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, earlier that day. Coles sat in sixth place with Autumn Rhythm going into the handy round on a score of 80, but jumped up to second place thanks to a high score handy round of 88. The pair finished on a score of 168, just two points behind Leffler’s winning overall score of 170.
In addition to being Leffler’s highly competitive derby mount, Zivago, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Solitair, also can be seen jumping around the Children’s Hunters with owner Kiana Fiore. He’s proven to be worth his weight in gold for both Leffler and her clients.
“I’ve had him for four years. I actually bought him, sold him, and then bought him back,” Leffler said. “He was sold to someone in California, and then I wanted him for a client, so they said he was for sale again and I got him back. Then she decided to sell him, so I sold him to (Fiore).”
One of Zivago’s most valuable traits is his ability to effortlessly transition from powering around derby courses with Leffler to being the perfect teacher for his young owner. While he happily showed Fiore the ropes in the children’s divisions, Leffler realized his talent could extend beyond traditional hunter classes.
“When I rode him in the First Year (Green Hunters), he was always really good in the handy classes,” Leffler detailed. “He could turn around so fast; that’s why I thought the derbies would be great for him. He really excels in the second round.”
She continued, “He’s pretty straight-forward. Nothing really fazes him. He’s always just loved the derbies. I think he’s a little show-off!”
Thursday’s courses tripped up many riders with long approaches to several fences combined with a challenging transition between rings, which Leffler admitted was one of her concerns on course in the first round.
“The courses were a little longer than I expected, even knowing you went back and forth between rings,” Leffler acknowledged. “Jumping the in-and-out and having to go through the gap got a lot of people. The horses weren’t really sure where they were going. My only worry (about the course) was the in-and-out.”
Of her plan for the second round, Leffler commented, “Sloane (Coles) was so good, but I knew I had just had to stay steady-eddy to stay ahead of her. I knew from fence one to two, I had to get his concentration back a little bit. He was a little spooky at the logs to fence one.”
Leffler’s Rolling Acres Farm, based in Brookeville, MD, will return for week five of the Vermont Summer Festival, which runs from July 29 – August 3. Competition for week four continues Saturday, July 26, with the week’s feature event, the $30,000 Mount Equinox Grand Prix, presented by Purina Horse Feed.
The Vermont Summer Festival hosts a full schedule of hunter, jumper, and equitation competition for six weeks at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT. Each Thursday, the $10,000 Welcome Stake, presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, takes place in the grand prix ring. The week’s feature event, the $30,000 grand prix, takes place every Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Competition culminates with the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix on Saturday, August 9.
Highlighting the hunter competitors, the weekly $5,000 3’3” NEHJA Hunter Derby series takes place on Thursday evening, concluding with the $15,000 3’3” NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Land Rover Driving Experience, in week six.
Competition runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m. Admission prices are $5 for adults, $3 for children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children. 100% of the gate proceeds benefit area libraries, including Manchester Community Library.
The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). Please e-mail us or visit our website for more information about the Vermont Summer Festival.
$5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby - July 24, 2014
Rider Horse Owner Round 1 Round 2 Total
1. Marylisa Leffler Zivago Kiana Fiore 86 84 170
2. Sloane Coles Autumn Rhythm Nilani Trent 80 88 168
3. Kristy Herrera Mariano Sarah S Cabot 83 82 165
4. Marylisa Leffler Ufonia P Paulexi LLC 85 79 164
5. Caitlin Venezia Smitten 57 Raleigh Hiler 79 80 159
6. Keirstin Johnsen Cameo Lynn Edens 80.5 72 152.5
7. Lauren Schweppe Sandrimo Meadowood Farm LLC 74 78 152
8. Caitlin Venezia Carthano Z Jennifer Combs 77 73 150
9. Natalia D'Elia Fanfare Natalie D'Elia 78 71 149
10. Jeanine Cash Catalyst Colin Cash 76 70 146