Scott Stewart & Lazy Sunday Win $50,000 International Hunter Derby at WEF
WELLINGTON, FL, Mar. 21–
With victory in the $50,000 International Hunter Derby assured, Scott Stewart decided to take a risk on Beyond that if it paid off could have meant filling the top two places and going home with $26,000. The pair were the last to go in the second round under lights before a crowd estimated at about 2,300 spectators in the International Arena at the CN Winter Equestrian Festival presented by Zimmerman Advertising at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
But they pulled a rail at the last jump–the only combination of the 26 that started the second round to do so–and Stewart received the first place check for $15,000 for his victory on the Keli Colby owned Lazy Sunday.
The combination with 730 points over two rounds beat out Patricia Griffith and Kosta, owned by Bradley Cox, with 728 points and Jennifer Alfano and Rock Star owned by Bright Star 158 with 719 points.
Many of the spectators who filled the general admission seats, reserved boxes and the International Club dressed for the richest event in the 2008/2009 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Challenge Derby presented by Dietrich & Co. featuring Walsh Harness & Saddlery.
Throughout this week, the event was billed as the hunter world’s equivalent of jumping’s Grand Prix. And entries by several jumper riders burnished that image.
Fifty nine horses started the first of two rounds in the Grand Hunter ring on Thursday.
Stewart, of Wellington, and Beyond finished the first day in first place with Canada’s Erynn Ballard and Cabardino second.
Friday night’s round, for which the top 26 came back to compete in the International Arena before four panels of judges, brought upsets and surprises.
As Stewart said, “I wondered about the big rocks but they were not a problem for any one.” And neither was the bank that designer Richard Jerffery incorporated into his course.
A vertical with bamboo poles proved to be the undoing of several riders.
Stewart and Lazy Sunday went in 19th in the order and posted a round of 377 points that, combined with their Thursday score, put them in the first place.
The next pair was Griffith and Kosta who came within two points of catching Stewart. Then, Alfano and Rock Star came into the ring two rides later and they finished in third place at that stage.
Few could have believed that would be the final result.
Ballard and Cabardino pulled two rails and their 163 for the round dropped them out of contention.
On Beyond, Stewart said, they were the last to go and started the round with a “few awkward moments.”
“We made up a little bit of ground but, unfortunately, we pushed it and it didn’t work out,” he said.
Show management praised both Bobbie Murphy who designed Thursday’s course in the Grand Hunter ring and Jeffery as well as the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association’s High Performance Committee Chairman Ron Danta for his work on the event.
The 2008 CN Winter Equestrian Festival attracts the best horses and riders from around the world to Wellington and offers more than $5 million in prize money. For more information, visit www.equestriansport.com