San Juan Capistrano, CA – August 20, 2022 – Friday, August 19, was a double derby day at the Blenheim Summer Classic, with USHJA National Hunter Derby victories awarded to both Halie Robinson aboard Catniss and Djuna Lauder on Cervino.
Lauder and Cervino, owned by Roaring Fork Farms LLC, were the first in the winner’s circle after topping a field of 24 entries to win the $5,000 Junior/Amateur USHJA National Hunter Derby.
“I’m over the moon,” said Lauder, 15. “I’m really excited because I’ve done a lot of derbies; I’ve come really close to winning before, but I’ve never actually won a derby. I was like, ‘You know what, I’m going to really go for it,’ and I did. It worked out so well! My horse could not have been more perfect. I was just so excited because I prepared him myself too.”
Lauder, who has trained with Carleton and Traci Brooks for nearly 13 years, led the class from beginning to end with a score of 92 in the first round, followed by a 90 in the handy round for a winning total score of 182. Finishing in second place with an overall score of 180 were Lillian Muzzy and Baldeur, and third place went to Skylar Wireman and Bonne Starlight with a score of 179.5.
“Cervino is my equitation horse,” said Lauder of the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding that she began riding in November of 2021. “[In the morning before the derby], I saw him lying in his stall. I got to the barn around 9 a.m. He was lying in his stall, so I got in, and we took a nap for an hour and a half, lying in his stall together. I’ve realized that he is completely driven off of love. If you give him really big pets or show him an unreal amount of love, he will do anything for you. He will move heaven and earth. He loves it. He loves his job, and if you have an emotional connection with him, it’s the best. He’s an awesome horse.”
Lauder continued, “Coming back for the handy round, I had nerves, but not the bad type of nerves. I had really positive nerves. I thought, ‘This course looks like a blast. My horse is going very well for me. All I have to do is maintain consistent pace and be positive.’ Everything worked out. It was such a beautiful round. There was one inside turn to the second to last jump that not very many people tried it because it was kind of taking a shot, and it was easy to make it look a little rough. [Cervino] just sliced it; it was beautiful – just unreal. He was so good for me. I’m so grateful.”
For Robinson and Catniss, their victory came in the $5,000 Pro USHJA National Hunter, which saw a field of 16 competitors on the Pacific Field at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park.
At the conclusion of the first round of the class, Robinson and the 11-year-old Warmblood mare, owned by Noteworthy Horses, sat in second place with a score of 91. Coming back for the second, handy round, Robinson recognized an opportunity to try to overtake the lead from Julia Rossow and Crowd Pleaser, who had earned a score of 94.
“I knew I needed a high score, and I had been eyeing this one turn the whole evening that I didn’t expect anyone was going to do,” explained Robinson. “Being in second, I definitely wanted to try it because I thought I had nothing to lose. [Catniss] is pretty small too; I think she’s probably just under 16 hands. She’s super, super honest, super brave, very easy and willing to do whatever you point her at, so I think that definitely helped make it happen.”
Robinson’s plan paid off, and with slick turns successfully executed throughout the course, the pair earned a second-round score of 93 for an overall, winning total of 184. Rossow and Crowd Pleaser, owned by West Coast Equine Partners, finished in second place with a score of 182.5, and third place with a score of 176 went to Jason McArdle and Anisa Pourteymour’s Enrique.
For Robinson, the derby win marks only her second time competing aboard Catniss.
“I actually just rode her for the very first time at the last Blenheim show here, and she was champion in the 3’3” Performance Hunters,” explained Robinson. “She’s a wonderful little horse. She’s beautiful. She’s a mare, but she’s not marish at all. She’s so sweet and just really wants to do her job well, and she’s really as fancy as they can get. She jumps a 10 no matter what, so she definitely makes a great hunter. I don’t do much up there!”
Both Lauder and Robinson were presented with $80 Riderzon gift certificates as the winning riders, and each of the winning trainers were awarded embroidered tack room pillows, sponsored by Nick Byassee – Equestrian Design LLC. Both winning owners received embroidered EquiTex scrim sheets, Topline Design Ribbon Wreath gift certificates, and Blenheim picture frames.