Thermal, Calif. – Dec. 4, 2021 – The Grand Eq Arena kicked off Saturday morning with the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Ritz Carlton. A competitive group of junior, amateur and professional riders took center stage to showcase their skills in the decorated derby ring. Three talented pairs emerged victorious after trying their hands over a classic derby round and then taking their turns over the tactful handy round. In the end, it was Chelsea Brittner and Berry De Maillet who took home the championship honors with a total high score of 188. Chad Mahaffey and No Reservations were awarded reserve champion, while Augusta Iwasaki and Seaside rounded out the top three.
Brittner and Berry De Maillet, a 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding owned by Kaylin Faidi, were among the last pairs in the ring for the first round course consisting of several flowing bending lines that helped to showcase the horses’ strides and beautiful jumps. The pair quickly caught the attention of the judges after laying down a seamlessly picture-perfect round earning a high first-round score of 92, putting them at the top of the pack going into the handy round. Brittner and Berry De Maillet were the final pair to go in the handy round and started the course out on an open, galloping pace, meeting the first jump with fluidity and grace. They quickly highlighted their ability to maneuver throughout the challenging handy round showcasing their pace and skill set to be as handy as possible. The judges awarded the dynamic pair an almost perfect score of 96 and a total score of 188, helping them secure the championship title.
California native Mahaffey and No Reservations, a 7-year-old Selle Francais gelding owned by Curtis Holdings Inc., were close on the heels of the leading pair after earning a first-round score of 91, just one point shy of Brittner and Berry De Maillet. They were awarded for their flowing pace and beautiful form over each fence, showcasing No Reservations’ fantastic hunter abilities. The pair was second to last to go in the difficult handy course and was awarded for consistency, helping to secure them another score of 91 and a final score of 182, securing them the reserve champion honors.
Iwasaki once again made a splash in the National Hunter Derby aboard Seaside, a 15-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Iwasaki & Reilly, after taking a solid lead in the first round of the derby earning a high score of 89, just a few points shy of the two leaders. The strong partnership between the horse and rider was apparent after putting forth a beautiful and consistent round showcasing Seaside’s big, open stride and fantastic jump. They came into the handy round and stepped up to the plate, slicing and dicing their way to a beautiful handy round earning the second score of 90, securing them the third-place position.
Hunter competition will continue in Hunter 1 on Sunday at 8 a.m., starting with the Amateur Owner 3’6” Hunter 18 & Over and will conclude the day with the crowning of the Junior Hunter division champions. Other Hunter highlights include the Child Adult 2’/2’3” Hunter Derby and the USHJA National Pony Hunter Derby.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Chelsea Brittner – $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, Sponsored by Ritz Carlton
On Berry De Maillet:
“Berry is a very new partnership for me. I just started riding him at the Sunshine Series. He is owned by Kaylin Faidi and trained by Beverly Jovais with help from Nicole Norris. This was his second derby but my first with him. He came this week specifically to compete in this National Hunter Derby. I am thrilled and he truly stepped up to the plate. He is new to the hunter ring and this is a whole new experience for him. He was fantastic.”
“I loved the first round. It was nice and flowing, very inviting. It was great that they changed up the ring and still made it look beautiful. It was a new fun twist to it. They built a very friendly but beautiful course and I think it gave him a lot of confidence going back into the handy. The handy was great and there were a lot of fun options. I loved the hand gallop at the end, it is always a fun aspect to throw at the end of a course. He really rose up to the challenge and got better and better with each jump.”
On upcoming plans with Berry De Maillet:
“He will hopefully come back for the Desert Circuit. His owner will start in the Adult Amateur division next week and that will be her first time jumping the 3’ on him which is very exciting. I hope to continue to do a few more derbies with him and maybe even do an International Hunter Derby with him next year. I couldn’t be happier with him.”
On Desert International Horse Park:
“I absolutely love it here. It is nice for me because I get to spend more time with my husband, Skylar. It is a second home for us and we are just very excited to be here.”
$2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, Sponsored by Ritz Carlton
Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score | R2 Score / Final Score
- Berry De Maillet / Chelsea Brittner / Marina Farms LLC / 92 | 96 / 188
- No Reservations / Chad Mahaffey / Curtis Holdings Inc / 91 | 91 / 182
- Seaside / Augusta Iwasaki / Iwasaki & Reilly / 89 | 90 / 179
- Look At Me / Margrethe Munkdale / Round Meadow Farm LLC / 86 | 87 / 173
- Kavaleri / Shaina Macduffee / Olivia Mazza / 82 | 86 / 168
- Redhaven / Chelsea Brittner / Zenfield Farm / 80 | 87 / 167
- Crowd Pleaser / Julia Rossow / West Coast Equine Partners LLC / 81 | 84 / 165
- Basil / Francesca Barbano / Francesca Barbano / 79 | 79 / 158
- Fromage / Elizabeth Simpson / Elizabeth Simpson / 73 | 72 / 145
- Samba K / Kassy Perry / Kassy Perry / 69 | 69 / 138
- Deva / Stella Wasserman / Jami Jensen / 81.5 | 44 / 125.5
- Vulcan / Hope Verschleiser / Hope Verschleiser / 72 | 52 / 124