Dominique Mungin and Reunion Dominate in $5,000 USHJA Junior/Amateur Hunter Derby at HITS-on-the-Hudson IV
Saugerties, N.Y. – July 21, 2023 – Junior and Amateur hunter riders took center stage Friday afternoon at HITS Saugerties during HITS-on-the-Hudson IV to vie for top honors in Friday’s $5,000 USHJA Junior/Amateur National Hunter Derby. Spectators gathered to watch over 40 horse and rider combinations navigate the first round in hopes of making it to the second round handy. After returning last in the second round, Dominique Mungin and Reunion made their way to the winner's circle.
“Going into the first round – my horse has never been to this show and this was our first class of the week – he felt alert and excited. We went in and he was really everything I could have asked for him to be,” said Mungin.
Dominique Mungin and Reunion. Photo by: ESI Photography
The first round classic round featured four high option jumps on bending lines placed throughout the arena. Twelve combinations were invited back for the handy round, which included four high options, rollbacks, a trot fence and a two-stride in-and-out before finishing at a high option toward the in-gate.
“Going into the handy round I decided to do a couple of the high options. I think we stuck to our plan for the most part,” explained Mungin. “The first jump was a little bit of a gallop away from the in-gate, then we did a nice tight roll back to a smooth bending line. I think after the bending line it was a little bit tricky because in the first round you turn right and in the handy you have to turn left, so it was important to really get his attention in the air. We did all the inside turns and then the trot jump at the end.”
Mungin rode her own Reunion to the top of the leaderboard in the first round after posting a score of 87.5. Continuing with their impressive and classic style, the pair came back last, using that to their advantage to capture the second-highest score of round two with an 88 – including three high option jumps for an overall total of 175.5.
“My horse is definitely more of a push ride– he is naturally pretty slow, so the key is to really get a good canter rhythm and then he likes to kick into gear and keeps it,” noted Munigan. I really just try to stay out of his way to show off his jump. We call him Jack, and definitely a favorite in the barn. He is a bit spoiled and he knows it – he’s got lots of nicknames and gets lots of treats.
Munigan concluded, “I haven’t been to HITS Saugerties since I was a teenager, so I was really excited to see a lot of these new rings and new footing. I am excited to explore more!”
Madison Frankel and Kingston. Photo by: ESI Photography
Madison Frankel and the Ashland Farms mount, Kingston, followed right behind Mungin and Reunion in second place with a total score of 175. The duo impressed the judges the most in the handy round – posting the only 90 of the class – and leaving them half a point behind the leader. Claudia Freeman and her own EWSZ Quantico captured the third-place honors. They earned a score of 77 points in the first round but came back strong in round two to score an 88, finishing with 165 points.
Claudia Freeman and EWSZ Quantico. Photo by: ESI Photography
Preceding the junior and amateur derby, the professionals kicked off the day in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Besting the group of top professionals was Patricia Griffiths riding Lexi Maounis’s mare Delancey. The pair shined in the first round with a high score of 88 – making them the ones to beat in the second round as they came back last. Impressing the judges even more, they went on to capture a 90 in the handy to give them an overall leading score of 178. Finishing only three points behind was Griffiths' other mount, Park City, who scored a 175 after earning the highest handy score of 91. Rounding out the top three was Meghan Knapic with First Blue LLC’s Fontaineblue.
Patricia Griffiths and Delancy. Photo by: ESI Photography
Competition during the summer series will continue Saturday and Sunday as HITS-on-the-Hudson IV comes to close. Riders will continue to vie for the championships, as well as top honors in classics such as Short Stirrup, through Junior and Amateur-Owner Hunters, which include qualifiers for the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League Finals.