Daniel Geitner and Mr. Manhattan are Marvelous in $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at HITS Ocala

Ocala, Fla. – March 18, 2023 – The judges at HITS Ocala were in a New York state of mind, with Daniel Geitner and Mr. Manhattan garnering the winning title in Saturday’s $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. The duo topped a talented field of world-class hunters during the premier hunter event in the Main Hunter Ring. Dorothy Douglas followed in second place with MTM Lolah LOL, while Kristen Bumpus and Diadora rounded out the top three.

“It was a very exciting class – great prize money and a beautiful course,” smiled Geitner after his win. “Mr. Manhattan really just wants to jump in amazing style. He has a great gallop, and if you're anywhere in the ballpark of a good distance, he's going to give you everything at the jump.”

Daniel Geitner and Mr. Manhattan. Photo by ESI Photography

Riders showcased their mounts over a beautiful course of natural obstacles designed by Jared Erho that included four high options and concluded with a long gallop toward the gate for the final oxer. The top 12 from the classic round were invited to return for the handy round. The final test began with two rollback turns, and also included a trot fence, and an in-and-out as one of the high options before hand galloping the final high option oxer.

Geitner and Mr. Manhattan were ranked third going into the handy round, but Geitner was determined to top the leaderboard with the 8-year-old German Sporthorse gelding out of the famous hunter Phillipa. They dazzled the judges with a brilliant effort over each fence and were rewarded with scores of 96 and 93 for a total of 369, leading the lap of honor for owner Martin Schlaeppi and trainer Kitty Barker.

“I was coming back in third place after the first round, so I knew I needed to make up some grounds during the handy round,” explained Geitner. “I chose all the high options and tried to be as handy as possible, yet still smooth and show off my horse's unbelievable jumping style.”

Geitner continued, “Mr. Manhattan is a real character. He’s 8 years old but still acts like a baby and chews on everything. He is always excited to jump and show in new venues. It was fun to come over and showcase him in this class.”

Geitner grew up competing at HITS Ocala and was thrilled to be back in the winner’s circle. “I love it here,” he concluded. “The oak trees are gorgeous, the green grass everywhere. The improvements are amazing – the footing, the new landscaping, the improved VIP tent. I can't wait to see what's in store for the future, but [HITS] has really stepped up their game.”

Dorothy Douglas and MTM Lolah LOL. Photo by: ESI Photography

The second place prize during Saturday’s $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby went to Dorothy Douglas and MTM Lolah LOL, who earned an overall score of 358.5. Kristen Bumpus and Diadora took home the third-place honors after receiving a total score of 354.

Kristen Bumpus and Diadora. Photo by: ESI Photography

The HITS Ocala Winter Circuit concludes next week and will feature a $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby and a $2,500 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix. Horses and riders hoping to make their derby debuts will have the opportunity to showcase their skills during the Post Time 2'6" and 2’ Hunter Derbies. For more information visit the horse show office or www.hitsshows.com.