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Press Release


Caitlyn Shiels and Cassius

Caitlyn Shiels and Cassius presentation

Laura Stern and Ellie

Laura Stern and Harrison

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Caitlyn Shiels and Cassius Win $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at Chicago Festival of the Horse

Written by: Allyson Lagiovane
Client: Lamplight Equestrian Center
Release Date: 2016-08-12

Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 12, 2016 – The final hunter derby of the Chicago Festival of the Horse took place on Friday morning, showcasing top horse and rider combinations in the Main Hunter ring. Caitlyn Shiels and her unstoppable mount, Cassius, took home top honors to finish up the $5,000 UHSJA National Hunter Derby.

Shiels and Don Stewart’s Cassius have only been working together since April of this year, but their partnership has grown to produce success in the show ring. Shiels and Cassius finished their first over fences round with a score of 88, putting them in third place going into the handy round.

“He was great,” Shiels said of Cassius. “The first round was really nice. There were nice high options, good turns, and a nice bending line. I thought it really made the horses jump really nice, too. [Cassius] was very smooth, very rideable, and I was very happy with him!”

Following closely behind Shiels heading into the handy round was Laura Stern on Harrison. Stern was nicely situated in fourth place with a score of 87, and also followed closely behind with her other mount, Ellie, with a score of 76.

“Harrison is just a blast!” said Stern. “He’s really learned and grown, and this was our first derby this year. He’s just a really good boy. He walks in the ring at any time ready to play. He knows what to do and to go in and jump the jumps, he’s all about it. It’s nice that he’s a good mover too!”

Shiels was the second to last competitor to tackle the handy round, showcasing Cassius’ beautiful form over fences and ability to remain rideable throughout the course. The pair earned a score of 89, enough to move them up in the ranks and take home the first place ribbon.

“During the handy I just wanted to be super smooth,” explained Shiels. “I had a nice score in the first round, so I just wanted to go in and lay down the same trip with a little bit tidier turns. He handled it all very well. I just knew at the end that he was very good and really deserved the scores that he got, so I was very pleased with him today. It’s just been great having the opportunity to ride such a nice horse.”

Stern and Harrison returned to the ring to earn a score of 88 for their handy trip, securing the second place finish. Stern ultimately rounded out the top three aboard her 8-year old mare, Ellie.

This week marked Ellie’s first week in the hunter ring, and Stern is looking forward to competing the mare in the First Year Green Hunter next year. She commented, “In the first round [Ellie] was really good. I think I was a little conservative with her because I didn’t want to push her too quick, and I got a little long in the line, but in the handy she was all about it and nailed it!”

Stern was pleased with how well her horses finished up the day, saying, “The courses for the class were really fun! It was a little tricky, but I loved it. It made you work both directions both courses. They do such a beautiful job here; we just love it. I’ve come here for years and we really enjoy it.”

Competition at the Chicago Festival of the Horse kicks off on Saturday, August 13, and will feature the $1,000 Junior Hunter Classic and $1,000 Amateur Owner Hunter Classic. Junior and Amateur Owner competitors will close out their respective divisions on Sunday, August 14, with championship titles.


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