East Dorset, Vermont – Morgan Ward of Milford, NJ, won the $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Eastern Hay, for the second year in a row on Thursday, July 4, during opening week at the Vermont Summer Festival, which runs for six weeks through August 11 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
A rider favorite at the Vermont Summer Festival, the derby spanned two competition rings with both traditional hunter jumps and derby-style fences. Joe Carnicom of Toledo, OH, designed the course for a first-round field of 32 before the top 12 returned in reverse order of standing to decide the winner over a handy track.
Ward and Cypress, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Quidam de Revel, scored an 85 in the first round and an 86 in the handy to take the win on a total of 171.
“He has been a rock star since day one,” said Ward of Cypress, a ride she took over last year for owner Bruce Green and trainer Sandra Lobel. “After winning this class here last year, he has been improving every week. We showed all circuit in Ocala and he was fantastic. My favorite thing about him is his jump, but he also has a nice canter with a beautiful rhythm and is a really fun horse to ride.”
Cypress has qualified for the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, and will head south to compete in Lexington, KY, this August. Ward remarked that his talent in a derby setting paid off for her, noting, “The handy gave him the opportunity to do some inside turns, which is what helped me move up. He is so slick that I can do any inside turn and he always jumps.”
Ward is competing at the Vermont Summer Festival with 14 horses in her barn and is looking forward to another successful season.
“This feels like home for me,” said Ward. “It’s so relaxing, and that makes me and my horses enjoy being here. The footing has been great, and the staff is wonderful. I love it here”
Riding Tru Balou, Emma Schauder of Greenwich, CT, finished second on a score of 164 after combining scores of 80.5 and 83 for owner Country Lane Farm. After posting the leading score in the first round of 86 and returning last, Wolver Hollow rider Cooper Dean of Fayette, AL, took third place riding Memorable for owner Over Fences Farm, LLC. They earned a 76.5 over the handy course to finish on a total score of 162.5.
Hayden Stewart of Dover, MA, finished fourth aboard Exceptional, owned by Kristie Parciak, on a final tally of 161. She also took home a special award as the high-point amateur competitor. Christian Coyle, rider and trainer at Old Salem Farm in North Salem, NY, rounded out the top five with a total score of 159 riding Keystone, owned by Chelsea Dwinell.
The first grand prix of the Vermont Summer Festival will highlight competition on Saturday, July 6. Beginning at 1 p.m., the spectator-friendly $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix, presented by Johnson Horse Transportation, will see the top horses and riders facing off for victory.
Now in its 26th year, the Vermont Summer Festival offers a dynamic competition schedule while also giving competitors an opportunity to enjoy the wide variety of entertainment, recreation, shopping, and dining options offered in Dorset, Manchester, and the surrounding area. A recent study conducted by the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont cited that the total direct spending of visitors frequenting Vermont for equine-related activities is estimated at nearly $15.5 million annually.
Competition at the 2019 Vermont Summer Festival runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning each day at 8 a.m. Admission is $5 for adults and children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children with 100 percent of all gate proceeds benefiting Dorset Equine Rescue, The Dorset School, and Manchester Community Library.
The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL).