Hannah Isop and Clem Brecourt Triumph in $5,000 WMC Health USHJA National Hunter Derby

Saugerties, N.Y. – June 4, 2022 – Clem Brecourt is a typical chestnut mare – smart, strong-willed, and talented. On Saturday, Hannah Isop allowed the mare’s talent to shine through during the $5,000 WMC Health USHJA National Hunter Derby at HITS-on-the-Hudson II. Held in the Outside Course at HITS Saugerties, riders showcased their mounts’ ability over natural fences and multiple high options in an effort to earn the top prize. At the end of the afternoon, Isop and Clem Brecourt stole the show with two scores of 91 and the winning title.

“She needs a very light ride,” noted Isop after her victory. “She is by every definition of a chestnut mare – she's extremely intelligent, she's very forward, she doesn't love the rider to get in her way. So I just work on being very quiet and try to do it her way as best as I can. She tries so hard, and that’s how we get the best out of her!”

 Hannah Isop and Clem Brecourt

The classic round of the derby began with a high option away from the gate, followed by a second high option off the corner. A related distance to a bending line made of two option fences was next, and then riders turned to a combination before finishing a long approach to the final vertical towards the gate. The top 12 returned for the handy round, where a trot jump was added, in addition to the four high options. Riders could also opt to take an inside track with a direct gallop to the final oxer to gain valuable handy points.

Oakley Clark and Billy Irish

Oakley Clark and Billy Irish were the first to attempt the direct approach to the final oxer, and it worked in their favor as the judges awarded them with a score of 93. Combined with their first-round score of 88 they set the bar at a total score of 181. Two rounds later, Christian Coyle came close to catching him with Let It Be, but their total score of 180 would be one point shy of the leader. However, Isop and Clem Brecourt were the leaders after the first round and Isop was determined to stay on top. With a smooth, flowing pace and a brilliant jump over each fence, as well as taking the inside option to the last fence, the duo was awarded a 91 for a total score of 182 and the day’s victory.

 Christian Coyle and Let It Be

“I really wanted to be as accurate and correct as I could be from one to two because it was kind of a blind turn and I definitely wanted to land right,” explained Isop. “I also really wanted a slow, steady trot jump because it was right in front of the judge and [Clem Brecourt] is a little bit of an overachiever, but she did it beautifully today. Then to the last fence, there was a very inside turn, which I originally wasn't planning on doing, but she felt so on it. So, I just looked around, I saw the turn and I was like, ‘All right, let's go for it!’ She did it beautifully – she jumped two feet over the last fence!”

Clem Brecourt is a 10-year-old Selle Francais mare owned by Tracy Freels, and the team at Harkaway Farm began working with the talented horse when she was just 4 years old. “She's a mare that we've produced slowly and she's really come into herself the last year,” commented Isop. “She’s been doing the Performance Hunters, and some National and International Derbies. She loves the bigger rings and she loves the turns of the derby. That's really her job and what she loves to do!”

Isop has enjoyed a wonderful two weeks at HITS Saugerties with Harkaway Farm concluding, “I love that they offer the Derby every week because it's something that I really enjoy doing as a hunter rider. It brings the fun back into the hunter ring. It's one of the reasons that we choose to show here at Saugerties. They give the hunters that option and it's a fun ring with good course.”

 Hannah Isop and Clem Brecourt

One more week of competition remains as part of the Spring Series during the HITS-on-the-Hudson season, which runs through September at the world-class facility. Next Saturday, the Saugerties Spring Series will feature a $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Classics in the Short Stirrup division through the Junior and Amateur-Owner Hunters highlight hunter competition every week, including the Bit o’ Straw Classic and Novice Children’s/Adult Classics, all qualifiers for the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League Finals.