Tina Judge-Boyle and Afelix Dell’a. Photo by Alison Hartwell Photography

Hunter derby action got underway on Friday, May 17, 2024, during the second week of the Lamplight Spring Series at HITS Chicago with the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby — the first of three derbies to be offered over the course of the weekend. An impressive field of 26 horse-and-rider combinations donned shadbellies and shiny boots as aimed for a top performance over the classic round course in hopes of moving on to score vital points in the handy phase. With two crowd-pleasing efforts, the class concluded with a winning round from Tina Judge-Boyle, of Yorkville, Illinois, with Afelix Dell’a owned by Amy Martin. 

“He loves to horse show,” laughed Judge-Boyle. “He can be a little quirky at home, but he shines in the ring. This is his second hunter derby win.” 

Tina Judge-Boyle stands for presentation. Photo by Alison Hartwell Photography

The partnership has progressed over the course of several years since Judge-Boyle first laid eyes on the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Diarado). With Martin now competing him in the Green Hunter 3’6” division and finding much success, she decided the natural course of action would be to take on the hunter derby challenge next. 

“This horse is pretty handy and I can do some quite tight turns on him,” she commented. “He has absolutely no spookiness at all and he’ll jump anything you point him at. It makes him especially great for the handy rounds because he is unbothered at going through tight gaps or anything.” 

Danielle Urban and Brightside. Photo by Alison Hartwell Photography
Danielle Urban and Brightside. Photo by Alison Hartwell Photography

Danielle Urban, of Elkhorn, Nebraska, posted the second-best overall score aboard Chloe Rogers’ 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Balou du Rouet), Brightside, to take home the reserve honors, while Caroline Weeden, ofLake Bluff, Ilinois, piloted Santa Burke’s eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Centino), Cedric, into third. 

Caroline Weeden and Cedric. Photo by Alison Hartwell Photography

Hunter derby excitement continued into Saturday where junior and amateur competitors competed for the top prize in the $500 Bit O’Straw 2’6” Hunter Derby and $500 Tiny Bit O’ 2’ Hunter Derby. Chicago, Illinois, athlete Mia Boer earned the blue-ribbon honors of the $500 Bit O’Straw 2’6” Hunter Derby with a positive ride aboard Rachel Bishop’s 11-year-old Selle Français gelding (Urlevent du Bary), Bailey. The week’s derby events drew to a close as Nisha Saraiya, ofWestern Springs, Illinois, earned the final win in the $500 Tiny Bit O’ 2’ Hunter Derby on NCE Equestrian’s 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Contendro I), Craker Jack Z.

For a full list of results, please visit www.showmanagementsystem.com