Matt Cyphert Puts on the Ritz to Win $5,000 De Cillo Equine Clinic USHJA National Hunter Derby at Texas Winter Series

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Matt Cyphert and Ritz with Great Southwest Equestrian Center General Manager, Amy Uniss. Photo by Jerry Mohme Photography

Katy, Texas – Matt Cyphert and Ritz, owned by Katie McDonnell, claimed victory in the $5,000 De Cillo Equine Clinic United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) National Hunter Derby on Friday, February 25, during Week IV of the Great Southwest Texas Winter Series in Katy, TX. 

Having also won the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby held during Week III, Cyphert and Ritz returned to defend their winning title, and they jumped straight to the top of the leaderboard with a score of 92 over the Skip Bailey-designed classic round course.

With the top 12 riders returning for the second round in reverse order of their standings, Cyphert and Ritz were the final pair to enter the ring, and they cemented their victory with a score of 88 plus three high-option bonus points for a second-round score of 91 and an overall score of 182.

Finishing in second place with an overall score of 162 were Sally Thayer and her own Hill Country, while third place with a score of 158 went to Kelly Lorek and Call Me Cool, owned by Allison Dodds. Rounding out the top four with a score of 157 were Lillie Granger and Casino Royal, owned by Steve Weder. 

“I’m thrilled [with Ritz],” said Cyphert of the 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. “Especially with it being a little bit cold, he’s young, and I wasn’t 100 percent sure if he would go in there and wake up. I thought he was wonderful. He really just answered all the questions and jumped all the jumps great.” 

While Cyphert admitted that coming back for the second round in the top spot can be a bit nerve-wracking, his significant lead also gave him the freedom to forego a bold second round. 

“He got a little bit playful in the second round,” said Cyphert. “I felt like he was having a good time, so I had to be naturally a little bit more conservative in my route, whereas if I were coming in from second or third, I wouldn’t have been, but he had enough of a lead that I could protect him a little bit.”

Ritz was purchased last year for McDonnell, and now, she will take back over the reins to compete in the 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunters this weekend before again returning to the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in March for the 76th annual Pin Oak Charity Horse Show.

“Katie’s a wonderful owner,” concluded Cyphert, whose Woodhill Farm has 32 horses competing at the Texas Winter Series Week IV. “It’s so nice to see someone who’s nice like that and a good client get rewarded with good results!”

Matt Cyphert and Ritz. Photo by Jerry Mohme Photography

Competition at the Texas Winter Series Week IV at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center continues on Saturday, February 26, with the week’s featured event, the $100,000 Galvin Agency Lone Star State Grand Prix beginning at 6:30 p.m.

To re-watch the $5,000 De Cillo Equine Clinic USHJA National Hunter Derby and to watch the $100,000 Galvin Agency Lone Star State Grand Prix live, visit Horse & Country TV here.

For full results of Friday’s $5,000 De Cillo Equine Clinic USHJA National Hunter Derby, visit www.HorseShowsOnline.com

In addition to hosting the Texas Winter Series, the Great Southwest Equestrian Center is home to the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, to be held March 23- April 10, 2022. Learn more about the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show here, and visit the Great Southwest Equestrian Center’s website here.

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