Zivago Takes Marylisa Leffler to the Top

Saturday, August 6, 2011
Posted by Jennifer Ward, Starting Gate Communications


East Dorset, Vermont — Marylisa Leffler of Brookville, Maryland, and Zivago won the popular $5,000 Hunter Derby held Thursday, August 4, during week five of the six-week Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, Vermont.
In the $5,000 Hunter Derby, the top 12 riders after the first round came back in reverse order of standing for the second handy round.  Marylisa Leffler and Zivago, who had been sitting in fourth position with a score of 84 following the first round, laid down a great trip in the handy round to earn the round’s top score, an 86.  Leffler had to wait for the next three to go to see if her provisional lead would hold.

Last week’s derby winners, Jeff Ayers and Abercrombie, were unable to extend their winning form, posting a second round score of 81 to add to their score of 85 from the first round for an eventual fourth place finish.  Amanda Steege, who had the two top scores in the first round, an 87 earned riding Aidan and an 86 riding Duval, was up next.  Steege and Duval posted an 83 in the second round while Aidan only managed a score of 80, giving Leffler the win by a mere one point.

“This is just great,” said trainer Patty Foster, who was texting news of the win to the owners, the Wilders of Wilder Mountain Farm in Chevy Chase, Maryland.  “Sydney [Wilder] is off to boarding school, so Marylisa got to finish out the season on him.  She has been showing him in the Second Year Green Conformation division as well as doing some derbies with him, and he is always so wonderful.  In fact, my daughter Ashley showed him this week in the Large Junior Hunter division.  He is just a lovely horse.”

Zivago’s record speaks for itself.  The horse has only been owned by the Wilder’s for a little over a year, having been bought in Ocala last year, and has already amassed a staggering record.  He is currently standing second on the qualification list for the North American League Children’s Hunter Finals, held at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, with Sydney Wilder, as well as 41st in the nation and sixth regionally in the Green Conformation division with Leffler in the irons.

“I love him,” said Leffler after her win.  “The more you challenge him, the better he gets.  He has been just great this year, and is a true derby horse because he just gets it done.  He has been getting good ribbons in each of the derbies, so the win is great.”

The $5,000 Hunter Derby series is new for 2011 and is offered each week of the Vermont Summer Festival (with the exception of week three).  The competitions act as qualifying events for the New England Hunter Derby Finals to be held from August 23 to 28 at the Fieldstone Summer Showcase in Halifax, Massachusetts.

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.  The first five Sundays of the Vermont Summer Festival feature a $30,000 Grand Prix, culminating with the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix on Sunday, August 14.  In addition to the $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, held each Friday, the weekly $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Classics are hotly contested. New for 2011, the Vermont Summer Festival will host a $5,000 Hunter Derby each Thursday five of the six weeks.

Week five's featured event, the $30,000 Manchester and the Mountain Grand Prix, presented by Hand Motors, will be contested on Sunday, August 7, at 8 a.m.

Competition begins at 8 a.m. daily, Wednesday through Sunday.  Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children, Wednesday through Saturday.  On Grand Prix Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children.  As always, 100 percent of the gate proceeds benefit the Friends Foundation for MEMS, (Manchester Elementary and Middle School).

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

$5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby – August 4, 2011
Rider Horse First Round Second Round
1  Marylisa Leffler     Zivago 84 86
2  Amanda Steege     Duval 86     83
3  Amanda Steege     Aidan 87     80
4  Jeffrey Ayers  Abercrombie     85 81
5  Lisa Rex  Limone 79 82
6  Amanda Steege     Majestic    80 80.5
7  Adam Ottomanelli  Monte Cristo 81 79
8  Dana Hart-Callanan  New World 75 78

Photo: Marylisa Leffler of Brookville, Maryland, and Zivago won the $5,000 Hunter Derby on Thursday, August 4, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, Vermont. Photo credit - David Mullinix Photography