Hannah Isop and Sir Henry Shine in $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at HITS-on-the-Hudson I

Saugerties, N.Y. – May 27, 2023 – HITS Saugerties was thrilled to welcome hunter riders to the newly unveiled THE Ring, located next to the renovated restaurant at HITS-on-the-Hudson. Derby riders took center stage, kicking off the day with the Tiny Bit O’ 2’ Hunter Derby and the Bit O’Straw 2’6” Hunter Derby. The final event was the widely anticipated $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, where riders showcased their mounts during the classic and handy rounds to try and earn the coveted winning prize. Making his derby debut with Hannah Isop, Sir Henry made smooth turns and showcased his brilliant jump over the high options to earn the winning honors during the day’s highlight event.

Hannah Isop & Sir Henry. Photo by: ESI Photography

“This is his first national derby, so my goal was just to go in there and have a really relaxed ride and give him a great experience,” smiled Isop after her win. “He was great – I couldn't have asked him to go any better. He really shined, and it was a beautiful, open, fun course. We had a great time!”

The classic round offered a flowing course with four high options that utilized the expanse of the ring. Twelve combinations were invited to return for the handy round, which included only three high options, but featured several rollbacks before hand galloping the final oxer to gain valuable points.

Heather Caristo-Williams & United Colors. Photo by: ESI Photography

Isop and Sir Henry earned the top score in the first round of an 89, but they had their work cut out for them after Heather Caristo-Williams and United Colors laid it down in the handy round to earn a score of 87.5 for a two-round total of 174.5. Despite Sir Henry being new to the derby ring, Isop did not let the pressure to perform ruffle her. She was focused on giving the young mount a positive experience, and her belief in his talent paid off as he easily executed the inside turns and galloped to the final oxer. The duo was awarded another score of 89 for a total score of 178 to claim the victory over Caristo-Williams. Performance Hunter Champions Lauren Schweppe and Cataumet rounded out the top three with a score of 172 after performing two rhythmic rounds.

Lauren Schweppe & Cataumet. Photo by: ESI Photography

Sir Henry was purchased by Weatherly Stroh this winter, and at just 7 years old he is already proving to be the perfect fit for the hunter ring. “This was the first handy that he has ever done, so my goal was to give him a good experience,” explained Isop. “This was the first time we've done some inside turns, so I really wanted to go in there and give him confidence. He was jumping better and better as he went. It was a lot of fun!”

Isop added, “He is a very brave horse, and he has a tremendously big and scopey jump, which is a lot of fun, especially when you put some turns with it!”

The HITS Saugerties Series is always a stop for Isop and Harkaway Farm, and they were thrilled with the improvements at the facility. “THE Ring rode great,” concluded Isop. "The footing was beautiful. It's a nice open space for the hunters to get to shine in, which makes me excited. We're really excited for the rest of the spring series as well as spending the summer and fall up here.”

Competition will continue over the next two weeks of the Spring Series as part of the complete HITS-on-the-Hudson season, which runs through September at the world-class facility. The Saugerties Spring Series will feature another $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Week II, and a $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Week III. Classics in the Short Stirrup division, through Junior and Amateur-Owner Hunters highlight hunter competition every week, which include qualifiers for the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League Finals.