Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hunters: Wellington: WEF: Stewart and Empire Wow the Crowd With Their High Scores in the Qualifying Round of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby

Scott Stewart and Empire win the first round of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby during the twelfth week of the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Photo © Sportfot, Official Sport Photographer of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival,

For Immediate Release
Brooke Bidgood for Equestrian Sport Productions

Wellington, FL - April 1, 2011 - It was an important day for hunters at the 2011 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival. Sixty entries took their shot at a chance to compete in the $50,000 USHJA Hunter Derby, one of the biggest purses offered for hunter competitors in the world. The class began this afternoon in the E.R.Mische Grand Hunter Ring. With a large number of spectators standing by, each horse and rider combination took their turn over a course of eleven jumps, with four high option fences.

There were two teams of judges - Danny Robertshaw and Jim Clapperton (Panel 1 - tiebreaker), John Barker and Scott Williamson (Panel 2) - one team on either side of the ring. Each team of judges awarded a numerical score plus a bonus point for each high option fence that was jumped. The sum of the scores was given as each rider's final score for the first round of competition.

Scott Stewart wasted no time getting down to business on the first of his six mounts in the class. Going fourth in the order, Stewart led the Fashion Farm's entry Dedication to a combined score of 186, which was good enough to leave the pair in fourth overall going into tomorrow night. "Dedication is a First Year horse, who has been champion a few times here. He's very scopey and very easy, but he just turned six, so he's still pretty green. I was very happy with him," beamed Stewart.

It wasn't until Stewart went on the last of his six mounts that he secured the lead for round one of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. Empire, an entry of Becky Gochman, left the crowd and the judges speechless as he exited the ring. Empire and Stewart secured a score of 94 plus 3 bonus points from the first pair of judges, and an 89.5 plus 3 bonus points from the second pair of judges, giving the winning duo a total score of 189.5 to take the class. "What made me decide to do it on him was a couple weeks ago I was schooling him out here, and we put the jumps up pretty high, and he just did it so easily," Stewart explained about his decision to show the young Empire in the derby.

Adding a little icing to the cake, Victoria Colvin rode Stewart's horse Inclusive to the third place ribbon after today's first round class. The pair left the ring with a combined score of 186.

Stewart doesn't anticipate any problems with tomorrow's second round in the International Arena under the lights. "He was champion in World Hunter Rider Week out there, so hopefully he'll be good tomorrow night," smiled Stewart. "He's just very brave."

Scott Stewart in his presentation with ringmaster Cliff Haines
The course was comprised of natural looking obstacles, some which have not been used yet this winter in the hunter rings. Most contained some form of hedge, shrubbery, or wall as well. Stewart shared his views of today's course. "I thought it was nice. I was a little worried about the brick wall at the end, but I don't think anybody had too much trouble with that. The rest was really huntery and nice, I thought."

With four high options throughout the course, most riders chose to do all or none of them. However, Stewart opted to do three high options, leaving out the first one. "The first high option was so early in the course, and it rode quite big away from the gate. I was afraid with most of my horses that they would try too hard and get playful, so I played it safe. The others were more inviting," he explained.

Now that today's course is history, riders have to look forward to tomorrow night's course, which is sure to be even more impressive, with impressive jumps and a longer course. "Last year's course was very huntery, nice, and flowing. I'm hoping this year's will be the same thing, and just a fun class," stated Stewart about his expectations for tomorrow night.

Round One ribbon winners Scott Stewart, Jennifer Alfano,
Victoria Colvin, Louise Serio, Holly Orlando, Kelley Farmer,
and Maggie Jayne
All of the riders in today's qualifying round worked hard to make the top twenty-five, and now those riders have to work even harder to get a piece of tomorrow night's very large purse. The $50,000 in prize money is a rarity in the hunter ring, and gives riders and owners the opportunity to take home a nice prize and some good recognition too. "I think its great," said Stewart. "To be at night again is fabulous, and hopefully there will be good attendance."

Join the crowd tomorrow night as the top 25 vie for the number one spot in the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. For those that are away and unable to attend, the class will be aired live on the USEF Network at the following web address:

For full results please visit for more information, visit

Final Results: $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Round One 
1    2384    EMPIRE    SCOTT STEWART    GOCHMAN, BECKY    94    89.5    6    189.5
2    6238    JERSEY BOY    JENNIFER ALFANO    FARMS INC., SBS    90    90    8    188
3    2414    INCLUSIVE    VICTORIA COLVIN    STEWART, SCOTT    93    87    6    186
4    2396    DEDICATION    SCOTT STEWART    FARM, FASHION    88    92    6    186
5    3267    PRAISE    KELLEY FARMER    GLEFKE, DAVID    86    88    8    182
6    2915    ROCK STAR    LOUISE SERIO    BRIGHT STAR 158, LLC    87    85    8    180
7    6240    MISS LUCY    JENNIFER ALFANO    LENAHAN, HELEN    86.25    85.5    8    179.75
8    1225    SIENNA    PATRICIA GRIFFITH    MAOUNIS, LEXI    83    89    6    178
9    2217    SAILOR'S VALENTINE    HOLLY ORLANDO    FARM, WESTERLY    85    86    6    177
10    1205    DELOREAN    PATRICIA GRIFFITH    COLLINS, WENDY    85.5    84.5    6    176
11    418    SUMMER PLACE    MAGGIE JAYNE    LANE FARM, PONY    82.25    85.25    8    175.5
12    1511    THE SPECIALIST    KRISTY MCCORMACK    LIPKE, MEREDITH    84    82    6    172
13    6702    MONTAGUE    GARY YOUNG    GOLDSMITH, ISOBEL V    82.5    81.5    8    172
14    3090    GOGOL    LYMAN WHITEHEAD    FIORE, MAGGIE    82    84    6    172
15    5921    BASES LOADED    KELLEY FARMER    FREE, INC, AM    84    77    8    169
16    2426    CARLOS BOY    SCOTT STEWART    WEISMAN, ALEXA    80    80    8    168
17    406    FRANCESCA    MAGGIE JAYNE    LANE FARM, PONY    79    79.75    8    166.75
18    1512    SUNDANCE    KIM MC CORMACK    MC CORMACK, KIM    81.75    77.35    6    165.1
19    6311    COOPER    SCOTT STEWART    GREENE + FOUR WINDS FARM, TAYLOR    78    81    6    165
20    1332    GENEROUS    DAVID OLIYNYK    GAUDET, LORI    76.25    80.5    8    164.75
21    1145    COASTING    LAENA ROMOND    ENTERPRISES, INC., SHF    77    77.5    6    160.5
22    5256    ELON AF OSTRA HULT    MELISSA BARK    FARM LLC, ENTERPRISE    76    75    8    159
23    2931    LUXOR    TIFFANY CORNACCHIO-MORRISSEY    NIKKI CARR, SCNC INVESTMENTS &    74.5    78.5    6    159
24    2368    DECLARATION    SCOTT STEWART    FARM, FASHION    76    75.5    6    157.5
25    6009    ENSO    LILLIE KEENAN    FARM, HERITAGE    72    79.5    6    157.5

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