The beautiful Anne Aspinall hunter ring was host to the $10,000 Marder’s Local Hunter Derby, which saw a starting field of 39 horses local to Long Island compete in the first round the “Classic Style Round” after which the top twelve returned for the second “Handy Hunter Round."
Scoring 95 points as the clear leaders in the initial round, Sandra Ferrell brought Stephanie Bulger’s Hemingway back for the Handy Hunter round as the sun was setting on opening day. Hemingway jumped his heart out and although they received a slightly lower score than in round one, their consistency over two rounds, combined with a few unfortunate mistakes by other competitors in round two was enough to see them wear the cooler and lead the victory canter at the end of the day.
The Handy Round included a long gallop to the first fence, a tight rollback and a trot-fence – which Ferrell described as every rider’s nemesis.
“We all dread the trot jump in the handy class,” laughed Ferrell. “It’s a bit funny. They’re hard. You can’t pick a distance to them. We got to that trot jump and I said to him “Ernie – you lift your legs NOW!” and it was a leap of faith! There was no room to put another step in if he had wanted to, I’m just glad he went when I said GO!”
Purchased by the Bulgers four years ago, this was the first Hunter Derby for Ferrell and ‘Ernie’ who is now nine.
“He went into the ring and he just kept jumping better and better, in such beautiful form,” Ferrell recounted. “He really rose to the occasion. It’s late in the evening, it’s cooler out now, and it’s dinner time. You don’t really know what will happen in that kind of stressful situation. He just kept going. He did so much more than we ever expected!”
The top eight placings in the $10,000 Marders Hunter Derby were divided between three prominent hunter riders – Ferrell, who placed first, fifth and seventh; Holly Orlando who placed second, sixth and eighth, and Laura Bowery who placed third and fourth while jumping in the Grand Prix ring at the same time.
For complete results and final scores from the Hunter Derby please visit www.hamptonclassic.com