Darragh Kenny Hunts to Victory in Vermont

Sunday, July 15, 2012
Posted by Jennifer Ward, Starting Gate Communications


East Dorset, Vermont – Darragh Kenny of Ireland, emerged victorious in the $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby on Thursday, July 12, at the 2012 Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.  Predominantly a grand prix competitor, Kenny was one of 33 horse/rider combinations to contest the derby track designed by Billy Glass, which spanned two competition rings and featured many creative natural obstacles.  With a score of 85, the highest in round one, Kenny had the benefit of going last in round two, which saw the top 12 riders after the first round return in reverse order for the second handy round.
“I’d never done the hunters before this year,” admitted Kenny, who has been based with John Brennan and Missy Clark of Warren, VT, since he was offered a job riding for the well-known trainers in May of 2009.  “I decided to do the derbies because I had the opportunity to ride such a great horse.  I like to win, and with this guy I knew that was possible.”

Aboard Bring it On, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by North Star of East Aurora, NY, Kenny returned for round two and put in the highest score of the competition, an impressive 88.

“He is just such an amazing horse,” Kenny said of his derby partner, who he only started riding earlier this season.  “He has a huge stride, is very scopey and is just incredibly talented.  I am so lucky to have the opportunity to ride him in the derbies.”

Renee Portnoy of Dorchester, MA, finished second aboard her 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Witness.  The pair was just three points behind Kenny after earning a score of 84 in the first round and 86 in the second.  Last week’s winners, Genevieve Zock of Scarsdale, NY, and Double H Farm’s HH Confession, rounded out the top three with an 81 in round one and an 84.25 in round two.

Based on the tremendous success of the hunter derbies during their inaugural year in 2011, the six-week festival, running July 4 through August 12, has added a $15,000 Hunter Derby, sponsored by Vermont-based equestrian luggage manufacturer, Oughton Limited, on August 9.  In order to qualify for the sixth and final hunter derby of the circuit, a rider or owner must have competed in one of the $5,000 Hunter Derbies offered during the first five weeks of competition.

Offering more than $750,000 in prize money, the Vermont Summer Festival is the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont.  New for 2012, the first five Saturdays of the Vermont Summer Festival will feature a $30,000 Grand Prix.  During week six, the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix will be held on Saturday, August 11.  The weekly $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, will now be held each Thursday.

Competition begins at 8 a.m. daily, Wednesday through Sunday.  Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children.  All of the gate receipts benefit the a number of Manchester area non-profit organizations, including the Mark Skinner Library, Friends Foundation for MEMS, Community Food Cupboard, and Second Chance Animal Center.

For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region in southern Vermont.  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).  For more information about the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail: or visit

$5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby – Thursday, July 12
Rider    Horse    Round One   Round Two
1.  Darragh Kenny   Bring it On   85    88
2.  Renee Portnoy   Witness     84    86
3.  Genevieve Zock   HH Confession   81   84.25
4.  Kate Ross   Friday Night   80  84.5
5.  Becky Cohn   Emerson   79   84
6.  Donald Bourque   7th Heaven   75    82
7.  Samantha Schaffer   Wonderland   74.5  81
8.  David Wilbur  Eloise  74  79
9.  Caroline Sykes   MoneyPenny   72   77
10. Alexandra Murray  Sir Corland   76   69
11.  Ali Barros   Umberto III   70.25   70
12. Corinne Milbury   Kavalier   70.5    65

Photo: Darragh Kenny and Bring it On won the $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby on Thursday, July 12, during week two of the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.
Photo by David Mullinix Photography