Haylie Rolfe and Daydream Shine in $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Lamplight Equifest II

Wayne, Ill. – August 5, 2023 – The $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at HITS Chicago captivated spectators who gathered early morning at the Douglas Elliman Ring on Saturday morning to watch some of the best horse and rider combinations compete for the top prizes. When Haylie Rolfe and Daydream entered the ring, they immediately drew the judges' attention and produced two outstanding rounds. The pair scored impressive two-panel scores of 188 and 187 for a total of 375 to take home the winning title.


Haylie Rolfe and Daydream. Photo by Alison Hartwell Photography.

“Daydream – Liza, as we call her – is a 7-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare,” Rolfe mentioned after her win. “I have owned her for about a year and a half. She is a blast to ride and have in the barn. She’s naturally quiet, has no spook, and is super scopey. She is literally the perfect derby horse.”

The International Derby kicked off with a twelve-obstacle classic round designed by Dean Battaglia, featuring four high options, areas for smooth rollbacks and adjustable bending lines. The riders then returned for the handy round, where a trot fence was introduced in addition to giving riders options to choose their own track to a few fences before finishing on hand-galloping oxer towards the front of the ring, providing exhibitors the opportunity to showcase their mounts' handiness, pace and overall jump of the horse.


Haylie Rolfe and Daydream. Photo by Alison Hartwell Photography.

Being the last pair on course, Rolfe and her own Daydream earned a two-panel score of 188 in the first round, landing them at the top of the leaderboard. Returning in the handy round, Daydream was brilliant over each fence and stayed at the top of the standings, earning a two-panel score of 187 for a combined winning total of 375. Kat Barkema and Vex Freedom, an entry of Vex Sporthorse LTD, took home the second-place award, earning a first-round score of 178.5 and a handy score of 181 for a combined score of 359.5. Marisa Metzger rounded out the top three with Kathryn Fleck Peisach’s Sinmigo Dos, after achieving a first-round score of 175.5 and a handy score of 178.5 for a combined total score of 354.


Kat Barkema and Vex Freedom. Photo by Alison Hartwell Photography.

“The course rode really nice – it had lots of flow. Even though I had a nice lead going into the handy round, I didn’t want to play it too safe since this will be my last derby before Derby finals,” noted Rolfe. “I stuck with my plan of doing all the inside turns and high options.”

Rolfe expressed her love for Lamplight Equestrian Center, concluding, “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Lamplight is home for us. We live 10 minutes away and I’ve grown up showing here every summer. I love these facilities and this Grand Prix ring.”


Marisa Metzger and Sinmigo Dos. Photo by Alison Hartwell Photography.

The action at Lamplight Equestrian Center will continue tomorrow with the week's highlight event of the $50,000 Purina Grand Prix to conclude Equifest II. Next week, Wednesday will mark the start of Equifest III as part of the full HITS Chicago Series, which runs through September at the world-class facility.