East Dorset, Vermont — Jeff Ayers and Abercrombie dominated both rounds of competition to win the popular $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby held Thursday, July 28, at the six-week Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, Vermont.
Abercrombie is already an experienced winner at the Derby format and proved it by posting the first round’s top score of 88. Ayers of Sellersville, PA, guided the stylish six-year-old grey gelding around the challenging 3’3” derby track set by course designer William Glass with barely a touch of the reins. The course, which spanned two rings, featured many creative natural obstacles including a two foot round log set between the two rings, a woodpile, and large tires set in the ground under rails, which caused problems for several riders.
The top 12 riders after the first round came back in reverse order of standing for the second handy round with Ayers having the advantage of being last to go. Mary Lisa Leffler and Zivago, who had been sitting in second with a score of 85 in the first round, laid down a great trip in the handy round to earn an impressive score of 90, the highest score of the day. Returning to the ring, Ayers and Abercrombie set down a trip that was consistent, confident, and in beautiful form for yet another score of 88 and the win.
“We imported Abercrombie from Europe exactly two years ago,” said Ayers. “I bought him because of his jumping style on the video, and that is why he is doing so well in the Hunter division. He uses everything correctly: front end, back end, and all. He never pulls, he never gets faster, in fact at this time of night, I call it the witching hour, a lot of horses can get really stupid, but he just gets a little brighter which is good because during the day he can be so lazy.”
Ayers continued, “He has done about five of these 3’3” Derbies and he is a legitimate horse. He can jump 4’, and this is lower than what he jumps in the First Year Green Division, so it is easy for him. I did the Derby prep with him yesterday and he kind of looked at the tires, but nothing was a problem for him today.”
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.
Not only did Abercrombie bring the Derby trophy back to the barn for Ayers, but he also won four classes in the Green Hunter Division and placed second in the fifth to win the Championship in a decisive manner.
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 at 1 p.m., 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.
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. Please e-mail us or visit our website for more information about the Vermont Summer Festival.
$5,000 Hunter Derby – July 28, 2011
|4||Meredith Lipke||The Specialist||81||86|
|5||Paula Kennedy||Monte Cristo||79.75||84|
|7||Cory Hardy||Le Chasseur||79.5||80|