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Press Release


Kelley Farmer and Mindful champ

Peter Pletcher and Luxe

Amanda Derbyshire and Romance

Amanda Derbyshire, Kelley Farmer, and Peter Pletcher

Kelley Farmer and Point Being

David Beisel and Eos M

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Kelley Farmer and Peter Pletcher Ride to Repeat Results in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Great Lakes Equestrian Festival IV

Written by: Elaine Wessel
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG)
Release Date: 2015-07-25

Traverse City, MI – July 25, 2015 – Talent was in no short supply Saturday at Great Lakes Equestrian Festival IV as riders from all corners of the country vied for the top spot and the major claim of the $25,000 pot in the USHJA International Hunter Derby, generously sponsored by the Gochman Family. The premier hunter event of the four-week series brought 23 entrants to the Grand Prix Ring after a quick transition from the morning’s brightly-colored jumper obstacles to the lofty natural fences created for course designer Thomas C. Hern, Jr.’s derby tracks.

In the hunt for the second consecutive year, was defending champions Kelley Farmer, of Keswick, Virginia, with the ride aboard her ever-faithful Mindful, as well as last year’s reserve rider Peter Pletcher, of Magnolia, Texas, but this time with a new mount.

The initial classic round served to whittle the field of horse and rider pairs down to the top 12 scorers who would return for the handy phase of the class. Hern, Jr.’s course presented a number of turn and height options for riders, with many choosing to opt out of the loftier jumps. Challenging spots on the course were quickly made apparent, as those riders who were bold enough to try for the high option points were often plagued with a downed brick from the skinny wall, a rubbed pole at the airier split-rail vertical, or a hesitant approach to the foreboding oxers along the rail.

“I knocked down the wall three times today,” Farmer said. “The oxers – those were the easiest for me to jump.”

Amanda Derbyshire, another top contender, had an opinion similar to that of Farmer, “I didn’t think my horse would like the tall skinny split rail fence and the wall. The wall was the first jump of the grand prix last week and I opted out of it.”

Headed into the second portion of competition, Farmer had, at least temporarily, clinched the first and ninth positions with mounts Mindful, owned by Kensel, LLC, and David Glefke’s Point Being. She and Mindful set the tone for the International Derby as one of the first to go, with the boat-whistle blowing overhead as the successful team exited the arena to signify a score of 90 or higher. The 90 score proved to be the fate of only a select number of partners throughout the competition.

Mindful carried Farmer to a score of 184 from the two teams of judges, while Point Being earned marks of 159. Unfortunately for the rider out of Keswick, Virginia, four of her six rides in Saturday’s Derby didn’t garner scores from the judges that placed them among the leaders. Sitting in the second position, Pletcher and Kyle Owens’ gray Luxe hoped to improve upon their initial score of 179 to overtake the defending champion in the handy.

Derbyshire and sponsor David Gochman’s Romance sat in the third position with a 174 score, trailed by Maria Rasmussen and Over Fences Farm LLC’s Quite Chocolate in fourth place. Tommi Clark aboard Stephen Borders’ Extraordinaire and David Beisel in the irons for Patrice Schreiber on her own Eos M entered the latter portion of exhibition in fifth and sixth places, respectively.

Riding in reverse order of the standings, 12  duos came back with a vengeance to improve upon their initial score and climb the ladder to a higher final finish and greater paycheck with impressive rides in the slightly condensed handy round. Beisel and Eos M moved up a spot, while Farmer and Point Being managed to capitalize upon their second chance with a score of 189 that hoisted them into the lead with only three pairs left to ride. With the score to beat at 348, Derbyshire and Romance proved why they belonged at the top of the pack with a second score of 188 and cumulative marks of 362 to best Farmer by 14 points overall.

Down to the wire, Pletcher and Luxe entered the ring as the second-to-last hopefuls. The Texan continued his three-week streak of top-scoring rides with notable marks of 195 for his stylish handy performance. After Farmer and Mindful took their final trip, the boat-whistle blew over the loud speakers to signify another score of 90 or higher, earning them the top prize.

“I’m thrilled. We will definitely be back next year. I love the management, the courses, everything about the whole horse show. There was a whole different aura about the place this year,” Farmer and David “Larry” Glefke mimed of each other.

A seasoned traveler of the equestrian hunter circuit and no stranger to the winner’s circle, Farmer and her repertoire of horses have accumulated innumerable accolades over the past years, and this season is no exception. Mindful led the victory gallop at the Showplace Spring Spectacular International Derby last month, as well as at the Summer in the Rockies International Derby just two short weeks ago. In both classes, Farmer also had the second place mounts. With Saturday’s win in Michigan, the top-tier rider nears her sixtieth derby victory.

Although Farmer was only in Traverse City for about 24 hours, her quick trip proved profitable as she walked away with the lion’s share of the prize money. A short celebration and trailer-load later, she was off again to another competition, undoubtedly planning on laying down more winning performances.

“I’ll be in Kentucky tomorrow morning and hopefully back in Chicago by tomorrow night. I’m used to that lifestyle with this group of horses. I showed in Kentucky during the week before we came up here. We have a tendency to do that- show up,” the champion said.

Once again, Pletcher navigated to the second spot of the competitive class with Luxe, owned by one of his students and a vital part of Pletcher’s PJP Farm for the past seven years.

“Luxe was awesome today. I sometimes steal him from Kyle [Owens],” Pletcher laughed. “We have all had a great few weeks here and managed to pull in some top placings.”

“I liked the whole thing, and I thought it was good. There were nice options and there were also great tracks for people who maybe didn’t want to try to go inside and tight. I thought the course rode nicely. They did a great job, as I know they had a lot to re-make with the rings,” Pletcher reflected.

Derbyshire and Romance maintained their third position to clinch the final podium spot. It was fitting that the pair earned a top finish as the Gochman Family, owners of Romance and gracious sponsors of the event, watched from the ringside tent.

“I have only been doing the jumpers in there so to do the hunters and go slow – it’s pretty nice,” Derbyshire said. “It was my big debut in the hunters at this show and I had fun. I took one of the girl’s horses. Romance normally does the Juniors. He was a good boy and stepped right up to it every time. He has no problem transitioning from the Juniors to the big jumps.”

All three of the top finishers will make appearances at the Kentucky Horse Park next month to partake in the many Finals taking place in Lexington, Kentucky. Farmer and Pletcher will once again face-off in the Derby Finals, with Pletcher also having rides in the Pre-Green Finals, while Derbyshire will train the a number of young riders at Junior and Pony Finals.

Farmer and Point Being claimed the fourth position, with Beisel, Friday’s Grand Prix winner, and Eos M just a few points behind in the fifth spot. Rasmussen and Quite Chocolate rounded out the top half of the second-round returners in sixth position.

Great Lakes Equestrian Festival concludes its four-week series Sunday, with the $5,000 USHJA National Derby taking precedence in the hunter ring. To cap off the final day, the jumpers will compete for a win in the $50,000 Great Lakes Grand Prix, presented by The Peninsula Group at Morgan Stanley.

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