WELLINGTON, Fla.--Victoria Colvin and her new ride El Primero charged to the top of the Classic Round of the $50,000 USHJA International Derby on Saturday, March 2 at the Deeridge Derby, the final event of the 2019 Palm Beach Masters Series.
Receiving a score of 186 from judges Walter T. “Timmy” Kees, Chance Arakelian, Linda Hough and Susie Schoellkopf, Colvin lead the way into the final Handy Round that’s set to take place Sunday, March 3, at 2:00 pm.
Reserved for the top 25 finishers in Saturday’s competition, the Handy Round will determine the derby's overall champion.
El Primero scored 90, plus all four high-option bonus points, from the first panel of judges, Kees and Arakelian, and an 88, plus all four high-option bonus points, from the second panel of Hough and Schoellkopf, allowing him to finish the day five points ahead of his closest rival.
Mostly Sunny and Havens Schatt finished second with a score of 181, a point ahead of Tradition and Liza Boyd on 180.
All three excelled over the course of beautifully landscaped natural fences designed by Phil DeVita.
“EL PRIMERO is a new ride for me, so I don’t know a lot about him,” said Colvin. “I have shown him maybe four times. He loves this grass field, and he is one of the easiest horses I have ever ridden. Hopefully, tomorrow we can do the same thing.”
While Colvin’s relationship with her mount is just forming, Schatt and Mostly Sunny’s has long been solidified, having been partnered for six years.
Schatt put trust in that connection following an uncharacteristic day in Friday’s USHJA International Welcome Stake.
“I have had this horse since he was 5 years old, and he is 11 now, so I know him pretty well,” said Schatt. “He had not shown in nearly a month, and yesterday we had quite a bit of trouble. I went in the ring yesterday like he was just going to go around and what happened was very uncharacteristic: We crashed and ran out at the in-and-out—a little bit of everything. Today we were back on our game.”
Tradition, shown by Liza Boyd, also sits well within striking distance.
The duo was third at the 2018 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships and had Saturday’s round play out exactly to plan.
“Like Havens, Tradition and I did not have the best round in the Welcome,” said Boyd, “but I think he peaked today just like I wanted him to, and I am really pleased. You just have to go in the ring like it never happened, and the good ones will believe you.”
IN THE $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, Patricia Fulchino’s Uppercut and Jennifer Hannan placed first.
The veteran pair held the lead throughout the competition, finishing on a total score of 186 following first and second round scores of 94 and 92, respectively.
Happy Thought, with Havens Schatt riding for owner Caroline Moran, placed second, a single point behind the winners, while My December, under rider Peter Pletcher, was third with a score of 181.5.
“Uppercut is just a great horse,” said Hannan. “After Havens’ ride, I definitely knew that I could not ease back and coast at all. I knew that I had to do all the high options and stay with the inside turns in order to stay on top.”
Schatt definitely put the pressure on the leaders. Happy Thought, a 7-year-old Warmblood gelding, sat third going into the second round, but Schatt pulled out all the stops over the handy track, and she and the brilliant bay received a score of 96 for their performance.
“Happy Thought is still a very young horse,” said Schatt. “He is not experienced in the handy round at all, so when I was getting ready to go in, I asked his owner if I should I go for it. She didn’t have an answer for me, but my grooms all said to go for it, so I did, and he did it all like a champ. He surprised all of us.”
The winner had nothing but praise for the venue.
“I just love these showgrounds,” Hannan said. “It is such a pleasure to ride in the arena. It gives us a totally different venue. It is so beautiful here, and the horses are as into it as we are. The Jacobs family really put on a first-class show.”