Rachel DeMuro and GameBoy Brought Their ‘A’ Game in $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby at HITS Culpeper

Culpeper, VA – August 19, 2023 – Saturday afternoon was derby day at HITS Culpeper, where spectators gathered for an exhibitor’s party that was held during the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Putting on their game faces, Rachel DeMuro and her own mount GameBoy dominated the Main Hunter Ring, receiving high marks in the classic and handy rounds and looking smooth while doing so. In the end, DeMuro and GameBoy’s remarkable performance earned them the winning title.

“[GameBoy] was my 3’6” AO before an injury showed up,” commented DeMuro after her victory. “We bumped him down to the 3’ to get more years out of him, keep him happy and healthy. So, these derbies are our fun time together to do some of the bigger jumps, and he just loves it. He gets super pumped!”

Rachel DeMuro and GameBoy. Photo by: Alison Hartwell Photography

The ninth competitors to go in the original line-up, DeMuro and GameBoy put in a strong first round, earning themselves an 85 and securing their spot as the second-to-last team to return in the handy. It was clear the gelding was enjoying himself during their ride, DeMuro noticing how relaxed and go-with-the-flow GameBoy seemed after they finished competing.

“The first round we were laughing because we were making fun of GameBoy earlier in the Adults, and he seemed like he was just being a straight Cadillac today,” remarked DeMuro. “He does have fun with these classes. He knows when people are watching him, so he definitely performs.”

Ashley Dewoolfson and Corazon. Photo by: Alison Hartwell Photography

Coincidently, when riders returned for the handy round, the three final horse and rider combinations ended up rounding out the top three. As the third-to-last to go in the handy, Ashley Dewoolfson and Corazon already had an advantage after scoring a 79 in the classic round. Following their second ride, they ended up garnering an 81 for a combined total of 160 which would eventually hold up for third place. DeMuro and GameBoy came next with DeMuro knowing she had to pick it up and do some tighter turns this round.

“[GameBoy] was definitely super consistent,” stated DeMuro. “He was adjustable for me when we were going to some of the broken undetermined lines, and the two natural jumps that definitely took the horses’ attention was the three-bar vertical. A lot of horses looked at that, and [GameBoy] jumped it beautifully. Then the hay bale jump with the nice beautiful log on it, he just went right to it no problem. He's a seasoned pro, but he loves that type of stuff.”

Allison Carter and Twenty Twenty. Photo by: Alison Hartwell Photography

GameBoy demonstrated how much of a seasoned pro he is by helping DeMuro secure a 79 in the handy, resulting in a combined 164. Following DeMuro and GameBoy, Allison Carter and Twenty Twenty were the final competitors of the day, coming in with a classic-round score of 86, a point higher than DeMuro and GameBoy’s. However, their final round would amount to a second-round score of 77.5, leaving their total score at 163.5 and sliding into the reserve champion position.

“[GameBoy] is my number one,” DeMuro concluded. “He’s definitely been a horse I can just hop on and no matter how I'm feeling, he’s like, ‘I got you. We can do this together.’ He's been very happy lately and I think he's settled into the groove of, ‘I can get with showing one day and then having a two-day break.’ The whole course in general today rode really great. With [GameBoy], I can tell with different footings how he's feeling. He loves this and really performs well off of it.”

Rachel DeMuro and GameBoy. Photo by: Alison Hartwell Photography

Only two more weeks of competition remain at HITS Culpeper, starting with the Constitution Classic beginning Wednesday, August 23, and ending with Culpeper Finals during the last week of September. Next Saturday will feature another $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby which spectators can watch in the Main Hunter Ring. For more information, visit www.hitsshows.com