Hannah Isop and Red Ryder Ride to Victory in $25,000 International Hunter Derby at New York Horse & Pony Show

Saugerties, N.Y. – August 3, 2023 – It was derby day at HITS Saugerties as riders gathered Thursday to showcase their mounts across three separate derby classes – the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby and the $5,000 USHJA Junior/Amateur Hunter Derby. Starting out the derby action was the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby in THE Ring, where Hannah Isop and her veteran mount, Red Ryder, captivated the judges over the two rounds to capture the top prize honors.

Hannah Isop and Red Ryder. Photo by: ESI Photography

“[Red Ryder] has a heart of gold,” gushed Isop. “He goes in there and he tries one hundred and ten percent. It's always amazing to get in the ring on him. He jumped so well today! It felt pretty great.”

Thursday’s $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby course gave riders many options across both rounds. In the first round, riders were given high options at fences two, four, six and eleven in addition to a track option at fence three where riders could pick the bending track best suited for their horse. In round two, riders were given high options at fences one, three, eight and nine, and two different track options at fences six and seven. The handy round also featured a trot jump at fence two where horses and riders had to go through a path of bushes before jumping the trot jump on the exit.

Hannah Isop and Red Ryder. Photo by: ESI Photography

After earning a 184.5 in the classic round, Isop and Tracy Freels’ Red Ryder returned to impress yet again. The pair took all the high options and showcased their impressive handy skills by taking the most efficient track and tight rollbacks, earning the top handy round score of 195 and an overall high score of 379.5 points, consistently receiving scores in the 90s from the judges.

Sara Taylor and Perfect Symphony. Photo by: ESI Photography

Sara Taylor had three horses in this class and landed with the remaining two top three spots with Perfect Symphony and CSF Sir Geroge, respectively. Taylor and Perfect Symphony garnered an impressive first-round classic score of 185.25 before landing the third-highest handy score of 176 to finish second overall. She also captured the second-highest handy score with CSF Sir George to round out the top three with a total of 348 points.

Sara Taylor and CSF Sir Geroge. Photo by: ESI Photography

The $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby came second and saw Meghan Knapic chase the champion and reserve champion titles aboard First Blue, LLC’s Fountaineblue and Blue Time, respectively. In a “Hunt and Go” style competition that would continue into the $5,000 USHJA Jr/Am National Hunter Derby, Knapic and Fountaineblue earned a classic-round score of 89.5 and a handy score of 89, resulting in a combined 178.5. Knapic’s second-place combined total with Blue Time was just a point-and-a-half off of her first-place score, the pair obtaining an 89 in the first round and an 88 in the handy for a combined 177. Michael Murphy and Intuitive were the last competitors to round out the top three, securing an 87 in the first round and an 85.25 in the handy for a combined 170.25.

The $5,000 USHJA Jr/Am National Hunter Derby was the third and final derby of the day, where First Blue, LLC continued their winning streak with Adriana Forte and Blue Streak. Forte and Blue Streak garnered the champion tricolors after receiving high scores of 88.5 and 96 in the first and handy rounds, the duo achieving a combined 182.5 as their overall score. The reserve champion honors went to Steven Samuel and MTM Coco after their rounds gave them scores of 89 and 88 for a combined 177. Lastly, Adriana Forte finished the day in the third place position with one more entry – a mare called Daloma – who helped Forte acquire scores of 86 and 90 for a combined 176.

Only three more days of competition remain at the New York Horse & Pony Show as part of the summer series during the HITS-On-The-Hudson season, which will run through September at the world-class HITS Saugerties showgrounds. Friday will feature the Children’s Pony Hunter Finals and Sunday will mark the end of the $5,000 USHJA Hunter Team Challenge – East.