Gladstone, N.J. - Monmouth at the Team continued Tuesday at Hamilton Farm. The feature class of the day was the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Eastern Hay. Out of a field of 48 horse-and-rider combinations, Morgan Ward and Cypress rose to the top to lead the victory gallop around the storied arena. It was icing on the cake for Ward who was also celebrating her birthday.
Skip Bailey’s derby course included four high options and possibilities for inside turns and creative navigation. In the handy round, the high-score riders at the end of the group seemed to challenge each other. with each trip. Ward was impressive. She took risks and they worked out in her favor. Ward earned a first-round score of 94 and an 87.5 in the handy to seal the top prize with a total of 181.5 points.
Ward and Cypress, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Quidam de Revel and owned by Bruce Green, have been a team since April. In early July the pair won the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at the Vermont Summer Festival.
“The horse has one pace,” she said. “He doesn’t change and he’s extremely handy. It doesn’t matter what distance, his knees are always up and he has great expression.”
Ward is a young professional from Milford, New Jersey and works out of Willow Brook Farm. She’s impressed with Monmouth at the Team. “Especially for us, it’s local and it’s exciting to show at the USET,” Ward said.
Second-place finisher, Michael Desiderio, a member of the family team at Traquillity Farm, in Chester, New Jersey, also appreciated Bailey's course.
“It was technical enough but still doable,” said Michael Desiderio who won the second-place prize with Zero Tolerance, a gray Dutch Warmblood owned by Dru Cederberg. “If you had amateurs or juniors in the class it was rideable for them. The professionals got to show what they could do.”
Devon Thomas (16, from Milburn, New Jersey) trains with the Desiderios at their Tranquillity Farm. She was inspired by the challenge to go the extra mile in the handy round with her mount of only 60 days, Diabolo, landing her in third place.
“I was not planning on doing any of the inside turns but after Mike’s (Desiderio) round, I decided to and it really paid off,” she said.
Monmouth at the Team is grateful to Eastern Hay for their continued support of the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Eatern Hay is family-owned and operated business with over 30 years of history as a premier producer, dealer and broker of the best quality grain, hay and bedding products for the East Coast equine market. For moere information go to easternhay.com.