Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 18, 2019 – The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show was bookended by the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by World Equestrian Center and Kentucky Horse Shows, on Sunday to complete a week of exciting equestrian action. In their first-ever class together, Geoffrey Hesslink and Luminosity topped the scorecard following two standout rides to top the field of 40 starters and earn the lead spot in the victory gallop.
Headed into the handy phase of riding after the classic round, the cut-off score for the top 12 returners was a lofty 82.50 points. With a score of 91, Havens Schatt and Caroline Moran’s Happy Thoughts had earned the lead and the advantage of jumping last over the handy course, designed by Joseph Carnicom. Hesslink and Sabrina Hellman’s Luminosity were hot on their heels in the reserve spot just one point off the lead with 90 points, followed by Hillary Johnson and Copper Fox LLC’s Lonesome Dove in third position with 88 points.
The abridged second track offered exhibitors four high option fences in order to capitalize on bonus points, plus featured a trot fence and plenty of track options, most especially with regards to the first five fences. A number of the qualified returning pairs successfully tried their hands at the tight rollbacks, with some rewarded for their efforts with scores in the 80s. Headed into the final two contenders, Libbie Gordon and Abigail Gordon’s Delightful sat in prize position following a round two score of 91 thanks to a textbook handy trip to finish on a composite score of 178.50. The second-to-last to ride, Hesslink piloted his mount to a slightly more conservative performance due to the team’s new relationship, but still executed the effort in exemplary fashion to garner a score of 89.50 from the judges panel to usurp the leaders with a total tally of 179.50, just a single point ahead of Gordon and Delightful. Ultimately, their score would hold as the final contestants, Schatt and Happy Thoughts, downed a rail to keep them out of contention for the title, solidifying Hesslink and Luminosity as the champions.
Gordon and Delightful finished with reserve honors, while Johnson and Lonesome Dove earned third place overall with a cumulative score of 171.50. Schatt and her own Salt Creek moved up the rankings to finish in fourth position with 171 points, and Jeff Gogul and Roberts Stables LLC’s Snowbird rounded out the top five with a total two-round score of 170.50.
The $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by World Equestrian Center and Kentucky Horse Shows, concludes hunter competition during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show, but the KHJA Horse Show will bring competitors back to the Kentucky Horse Park Aug. 21–25, a week that will feature another $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by World Equestrian Center and Kentucky Horse Shows.
Geoffrey Hesslink – USHJA National Hunter Derby winner
“This horse just came to me recently with a new client of mine. I’ve never shown the horse, so this was the first class I’ve done on him. I’ve ridden him a few times just to get to know him and he has been great. We last-minute decided to do this class and he was amazing. He was great.”
On his strategy in the handy:
“Not knowing the horse that well, I wanted to most of all have a consistent, good round to keep my place. As the class went on, I watched the people do the beginning part, which looked quite doable, but after the trot jump I went around because I wanted the horse to have a confident experience and I felt like I had done enough for him to have a good score.”
On competing at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show:
“It’s been great. This is one of my favorite weeks to horse show anywhere. They do an amazing job here, and the [Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter] Incentive Championship and [Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter] Derby Championship are events everybody looks forward to all year. They put on a show quite well and it is the top of the top competition, so it is nice to be able to know where you stand with your peers. I’ve had a busy week, but a great week here.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Classic Score / Handy Score / Final
$5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
1. Luminosity / Geoffrey Hesslink / Sabrina Hellman / 90 / 89.50 / 179.50
2. Delightful / Libbie Gordon / Abigail Gordon / 87.50 / 91 / 178.50
3. Lonesome Dove / Hillary Johnson / Copper Fox LLC / 88 / 83.50 / 171.50
4. Salt Creek / Havens Schatt / Havens Schatt / 85 / 86 / 171
5. Snowbird / Jeff Gogul / Roberts Stables, LLC / 86.50 / 84 / 170.50
6. Major Key / Gigi Manigault / Gigi Manigault / 84.50 / 85 / 169.50
7. Elliot / Hillary Johnson / Copper Fox LLC / 83 / 83 / 166
8. Happy Thoughts / Havens Schatt Caroline Moran / 91 / 46 / 137
9. Heist / Abbygale Funk / Mmk Equestrian LLC / 86.75 / 45 / 131.75
10. Scout / Mattie Worsham / Mattie Worsham / 83.50 / 44 / 127.50
11. Scholar / Mattie Worsham / Mattie Worsham / 84 / 39 / 123
For more information on the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show, please click here.