Saturday competition in the Stonelea Ring at the Kentucky Summer Classic featured the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by the World Equestrian Center and Kentucky Horse Shows, where Molly Sewell rode to the top two spots aboard Acado and Niko, respectively, with her leading scores separated by only one-fourth of a point. Third place was awarded to Lindsay Maxwell and her own Belgravia with a two-round total of 172.
Sewell rode to a similar finish after claiming the first and second place awards just two years ago in the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby at the 2016 Kentucky Summer Classic, also leading the field with Sidney Porter’s Acado after just one month of partnership, and capturing the second place award with EL Raymond, owned by Leslie and Stuart Campbell.
This year’s derby class, set by Danny Moore, saw 38 entries test over 11 fences in the classic round, featuring four high options. The top 12 combinations returned for the second round in reverse order, allowing riders to showcase their horse’s handiness with a trot fence and multiple opportunities for tight rollbacks. Sewell returned to the handy round with the third and fourth highest scores of 87 and 85.5 on Acado and Niko, respectively, hoping to best her two leading competitors.
With two mounts in the handy round, Sewell elected to move Cynthia Chaconas’ 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Niko, up in the order-of-go, returning fourth instead of their slotted spot of ninth. The pair posted an impressive handy round score of 89 to capture and maintain the lead with a total score of 174.5 until she later returned third to last with Acado. The 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding rode to a total score of 174.75 to just edge out Sewell’s other mount for the victory.
Acado is a familiar mount for Sewell with over two years of partnership and multiple derby competitions between the two when the gelding is not competing in the Adult Amateur Hunter division with owner Sidney. However, Niko is a newer ride for Sewell as the pair just partnered last week at the Kentucky Summer Horse Show.
Saturday’s feature class is part of an 11-event USHJA National Hunter Derby series collaboration sponsored by the World Equestrian Center and Kentucky Horse Shows that includes $20,000 in rider bonuses to be awarded at the World Equestrian Invitational in October.
Competition will resume in the Stonelea Ring with the Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions beginning at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5, for the final day of competition at the Kentucky Summer Classic.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Molly Sewell – $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by the World Equestrian Center and Kentucky Horse Shows, winner
“Acado is 14 years old. He’s our client, Sidney Porter’s, horse. He’s a lovely horse. We’ve had him in the barn going on three years. We got him right before we came to this horse show a few years ago. I just know him really well. He’s a lovely horse. He’s brave and he’s just a good horse. He’s fantastic for his owner, too. She does the adult hunters on him. Acado is like an old shoe to me. I’ve ridden him for the past two years and I do a good amount of derbies on him.”
“Niko went really nice in the first round. I don’t know him as well. This is my first show with him, but [Acado] I know very well. With Niko, I was a little conservative in the first round, but then I felt like I could trust him in the second round and he was fantastic.”
On the course:
“It was fairly straightforward but there were a couple of spots where you could show off a little more. I just tried to be smart but show off my horses a little bit. I was a little conservative on both horses in the first round. Then I just went for it in the handy round. That’s my favorite part of derbies — the handy — it’s where my horses typically shine.”
On her plans with Acado:
“We’ll stay and do the Bluegrass Festival. It depends on [Sidney’s] schedule because we don’t like to do too much with him. I just try to keep him going for her.”
“I was here last week. This is my favorite horse show of the year and I always like to come here. The footing is always great and my favorite part is being able to take the horses and prepare them out in the field because it’s such a horse friendly place. They are all so happy here.”
$5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by World Equestrian Center and Kentucky Horse Shows
Place / Horse / Rider / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Acado / Molly Sewell / 87 / 87.75 | 174.75
2. Niko / Molly Sewell / 85.5 / 89 | 174.5
3. Belgravia / Lindsay Maxwell / 87.5 / 84.5 | 172
4. Last Call Z / Geoffrey Hesslink / 85 / 85.5 | 170.5
5. Candor / Alyssa Mansfield / 82 / 87 | 169
6. Action Hero / Sophie Transou / 84 / 84 | 168
7. Hobbs Lane / Maria Rasmussen / 88 / 79 | 167
8. Quite Ruffy / Campbell Kahn / 80.75 / 85 | 165.75
9. Gabli / Daniel Bedoya / 79.5 / 86 | 165.5
10. Ziggy Stardust / Lindsay Maxwell / 83 / 77 | 160
11. Welcome / Mary Elizabeth Cordia / 81 / 69 | 150
12. Lavish / David Beisel / 81.5 / 53 | 134.5