Meghan Knapic and Blue Time Top $50,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at HITS Championship

Saugerties, N.Y. – Sept. 9, 2023 – Following a day of exciting competition among the professional hunter riders in the first round of Friday’s $50,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at HITS Saugerties, 12 combinations returned for the second round on Saturday. After completing a beautiful handy round that offset applause from every direction in THE Ring, Meghan Knapic and Blue Time moved up from second place in the rankings to lead the lap of honor during the highlight event.

Meghan Knapic and Blue Time. Photo by: ESI Photography

In preparation for the final national derby of the season at HITS Saugerties, Knapic started doing as many practice courses as possible back home at First Blue LLC. Since taking over the ride last winter, Knapic focused on showing Blue Time in the Green Hunters for most of the year. Since then, Knapic made it a point to practice doing handy courses and trot jumps with Blue Time, which he eventually started to pick up on his own.

“We came to [HITS Saugerties] about four times this summer, and every time I did the National Derby, [Blue Time] got better and better every single week,” remarked Knapic after her win. “I was so happy with how he went yesterday. But for him to go in the way he did today in the field of horses, I'm blown away by him.”

Jimmy Torano and Lantos. Photo by: ESI Photography

Knapic and Blue Time stepped into the handy with a total first-round score of 188.75 from the day prior. The duo would then go on to earn high marks once more, completing a brilliant round that earned them a second-round score of 182 and a total two-round score of 376.75. Their high marks would make them the leaders for the remainder of the class, with few riders coming close to catching them. Jimmy Torano and Lantos were the only pair who almost overtook Knapic and Blue Time’s lead by earning a first-round total of 187 and a second-round total of 186.5., amounting to an overall 373.5 – which would become the second-highest score of the day. The third-place award would eventually go to Laena Romond and Someday, who received a 182 and 180 for a two-round total of 370.

Laena Romond and Someday. Photo by: ESI Photography

“Going in, we walked all the turns and I figured I could do all the beginning parts of the turns,” explained Knapic. “Since my horse is younger, I wanted to play it a little safe with the trot jump and then try to keep it smooth. [Blue Time] has a huge, nice lofty canter that makes it really easy to find the jumps on, and when you get to the base, he gives it a good effort. He's very willing, and he definitely went in this weekend the best I think that he's ever done. He was incredible!”

Meghan Knapic and Blue Time. Photo by: ESI Photography

Knapic concluded, “Everything about this place is absolutely incredible. [HITS] did such a beautiful job putting on every single derby that they've had this whole summer. The footing is fantastic and I've always loved it here, but I love it even more now!”

The next derby in THE Ring Saturday afternoon was the $50,000 USHJA Junior Amateur Hunter Derby, which also ran over two days. Augusta Iwasaki and Small Love eventually garnered the top honors after traveling from Southern Methodist University to compete at HITS Saugerties.

“I was super excited to do this class,” expressed Iwasaki. “I just came back from school. I go to SMU, and [Small Love] is one of my favorite horses in the world. Getting to compete here makes me feel so lucky and proud to be a part of this!”

Like Knapic and Blue Time, Iwasaki and Small Love received high scores in their class on Friday, garnering a total of 192 in the classic round of the $50,000 USHJA Junior Amateur Hunter Derby. On Saturday, their impressive handy-round total of 190 gave them a combined two-round score of 382. Emma Woodworth and Just Dessert were right behind Iwasaki and Small Love with the second-highest combined score after securing a 175 and 185.5., giving them a 360.5 in the end. Finally, Wynatte Chu and Contador placed third, receiving two scores of 183 and 172.7 and having their total score add to 355.5.

Augusta Iwasaki and Small Love. Photo by: ESI Photography

Only one more day of the HITS Championship remains with hunter action drawing to a close following the second round of Sunday’s $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. Be sure to tune in for the $300,000 FEI Grand Prix CSI4* at 1 p.m. on ClipMyHorse.TV. For more information, visit