East Dorset, Vermont — Caitlin Venezia piloted Comex Gold to first place in the $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby during the second week of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival. The six week show will continue through August 11 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Venezia earned a combined score of 172, finishing the class ten points ahead of the competition. Thursday evening’s victory was one of several noteworthy wins Comex Gold and Venezia have recently enjoyed. The pair was champion in the First Year Green Hunter division earlier in the week in Vermont and was coming off another derby win at HITS Saugerties in New York.
“He’s fantastic. He won the derby at Saugerties in May. He’s kind of ridiculous!” Venezia beamed. “It’s seven o’clock at night and he was perfect. You can’t ask for more than that.”
While the pair seems to be on a winning streak, Venezia kept her expectations in check entering the ring Thursday evening.
“You never know, so you don’t go in with any sort of expectations. It’s always better that way. Never assume anything!” Venezia remarked.
Comex Gold and Venezia were the last pair to go in the handy round after receiving the first round high score of 85. Despite being in first place, Venezia didn’t count on her cushion of points to secure a first place finish.
“There’s no such thing as a cushion in horseback riding!” Venezia laughed.
Venezia admitted to staying conservative in the handy round nonetheless.
“The late hour meant maybe I was a hair more conservative than I would normally be,” Venezia continued. “My other horse (RMF Bogota, who finished third with Venezia) is a pre-green and he lit up a little bit and got a little wild. So with Comex Gold, I may have stepped off the gas pedal a little bit.”
“My turns were all still the inside turns. The hand gallop might not have been full throttle. Maybe I would have poured it on the whole way around a little more and taken a gamble, but not a seven o’clock at night,” Venezia explained.
Venezia’s conservative approach was more than enough for a blue ribbon finish. The pair earned a handy round score of 87, securing their first place victory.
Venezia attributed Comex Gold’s derby success to natural talent and pure enthusiasm for the show ring, saying, “He’s so scopey. He does the First Years like it’s a walk in the park. There’s nothing they can build that’s too big or too hard or any turn that’s too tight. Everything is like a game to him. He’s still young and enthusiastic. He thinks it’s just like playtime."
While Comex Gold may consider jumping to be fun and games, Venezia assured that he is all business when he goes in the ring. “He’s not a hard horse to manage. I love the fact that he still loves what he does. That’s the best part about doing this. You can feel that he loves it and he always tries 150%, but there’s nothing difficult. It makes a nice horse,” Venezia commented.
Comex Gold will return to the derby ring in the weeks to come as Venezia, based out of Holly Hill Farm in Cape Cod and Harvard, MA, plans to stay in East Dorset for the remainder of the Vermont Summer Festival. Venezia has attended the show since childhood and has no intention of stopping anytime soon.
“The first time I showed in Vermont I was seven and I haven’t taken a break since! The management is unsurpassed. I bring 50 horses here and there are not many places I can do that and have it run as smoothly as it does here,” Venezia said. “My clients love it. As a trainer, I don’t mind spending five weeks in one place because there are so many other things to do. The prize money is just as good as anywhere else. The ingates are great. The management is great. There’s turn-out. You can’t beat it!” she concluded.
Competition at the Vermont Summer Festival will continue Saturday with the featured event of the weekend, the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix, sponsored by Johnson Horse Transportation. The Grand Prix will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 13 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT. Gates open at 8 a.m. and admission prices on Saturday are $7 for adults, $5 for children. 100% of the gate receipts benefit the Manchester area non-profit organizations Mark Skinner Library, Friends Foundation for MEMS, Community Food Cupboard, and Community Sharing Project.
The Vermont Summer Festival, celebrating its 20th anniversary in its current Manchester location, offers more than $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont.
The first five Saturdays of the Vermont Summer Festival feature a $30,000 Grand Prix. The $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix will be held during the sixth and final week on Saturday, August 10. The weekly $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, is held each Thursday. The hugely popular $5,000 3’3” Hunter Derby is also held each Thursday for the first five weeks, with week six featuring the $15,000 Hunter Derby
The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). Please e-mail us or visit our website for more information about the Vermont Summer Festival.
$5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby Qualifier
|Rider||Horse||Owner||Round 1||Round 2||Total|
|1||Caitlin Venezia||Comex Gold||Jennifer Combs||85||87||169|
|2||Wendy Collins||Delorean||Wendy Collins||78||84.5||162.5|
|3||Caitlin Venezia||RMF Bogota||Rushy Marsh Farm LLC||83||79||159|
|4||Samantha Schaefer||Per Se||Iron Horse Farm||74||84||158|
|5||Lauren Raponi||Will If I Want||Lauren Raponi||76||80||156|
|6||Kate Ross||Friday Night||KAR LLC||77||78.5||153.5|
|7||Corinne Milbury||Kavalier||Corinne Milbury||72||82||154|
|8||Carly Corbacho||Blue Highway||Carly Corbacho||73||80.5||153.5|
|9||Katelyn Burke||Vitano||Katelyn Burke||68||85||153|
|10||Ava Lindsay||All In One||Ava Lindsay||71||85||149|
|11||Eliza Month||Duval||Eliza Month||71.5||65||136.5|
|12||Lisa Rex||Overheard||Erin Brennan||80||45||125|