Aug. 26—Bridgehampton, N.Y.
Molly Ashe-Cawley rode into the lead at the Hampton Classic’s $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and never looked back. Despite going last in the field of 35, Ashe-Cawley rode Kristen Abbatiello-Neff’s Kennzo to scores of 90 and 92 in the first round over Steve Stephens’ big, flowing track.
This was the first year that the class was held on the grass grand prix field, so Kennzo, a former jumper, felt right at home.
“This was his third appearance [at the Hampton Classic],” said Ashe-Cawley, “but his first as a hunter. I always liked this field so I figured we’d give it a go. It was a beautiful course.”
As for Ashe-Cawley, Wellington, Fla., she admitted that she finds riding a hunter course more intimidating than a jumper course. “When there are 10 or 12 strides between jumps, I can do all sorts of things wrong!” she said with a laugh.
The first round of the derby was a forward course that featured a rollback and several sharp turns. Ashe-Cawley found one combination, an oxer-to-oxer in-and-out by the in-gate, to be particularly daunting, but Kennzo jumped it flawlessly. “It rode long and was hard to get to. We landed and I thought, ‘Oh boy!’ ” she said.
The 10-year-old Finnish Warmblood (Coriano—Anita) has been showing as a hunter for a couple of years now, but he did his first derby with Ashe-Cawley at Horse Shows By The Bay III (Mich.) in July, where he finished second in the $20,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.
“He was very scopey [as a jumper], but he didn’t want to jump the water, and he made that very clear,” Ashe-Cawley said.
“For the handy [at the Hampton Classic], the pressure wasn’t going last, but it was turning him away from the water,” she joked, referring to the multiple permanent water jumps in the grand prix field.
The pair jumped all of the high options on the handy course, including a hand gallop to the final oxer set at 4’6”, for a handy round total score of 191.5. “He’s a little horse—only 15.3 hands—but he rides like a big horse,” Ashe-Cawley said. “The big option is a gift. He’s so much fun.”
Listen, a Betsee Parker entry piloted by Victoria Colvin, 14, was second going into the handy round with scores of 88 and 90, but an unfortunate rail at an upright vertical cost the pair, and they ultimately finished 11th.
One of Colvin’s other mounts, Inclusive, jumped from eighth after the first round to second overall after a brilliantly ridden handy round, which was rewarded with a total score of 201 and a win in the handy hunter phase of the class.
Fresh off of a sixth-placed finish at the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby finals the week before, Lillie Keenan continued her consistent streak, finishing third on Monterrey, her 11-year-old Dutch-bred gelding.
Jumper rider Darragh Kenny might be more comfortable in the grand prix field than any other ring at the Hampton Classic, but on Sunday he looked completely at home in the hunters, as he rode North Star’s Bring it On and Missy Clark’s Stay Cool Relax in the class. Kenny finished eighth overall with Stay Cool Relax.
As for Kennzo, Ashe-Cawley said he’ll remain in the hunter ring, and we’ll likely see him again in another derby. “I don’t even know where the next one is,” she said, “but we’ll go.”
1. Kennzo, ridden by Molly Ashe-Cawley, owned by Kristen Abbatiello-Neff
2. Inclusive, ridden by Victoria Colvin, owned by Betsee Parker
3. Monterrey, ridden by Lillie Keenen, owned by Chansonette Farm, LLC
4. Co Co Pop, ridden by Catherine Tyree, owned by Missy Clark
5. Taken, ridden by Kelley Farmer, owned by Jessica Stitt
6. Pioneer, ridden by Matthew Metell, owned by Heritage Farm, Inc.
7. Class Action, ridden by Allison Toffolon, owned by Allison Toffolon
8. Stay Cool Relax, ridden by Darragh Kenny, owned by Missy Clark & North Run
9. Asparagus, ridden by Diederique van der Knaap, owned by Missy Clark & North Run
10. Bases Loaded, ridden by Kelley Farmer, owned by A.M. Free, Inc.
11. Listen, ridden by Victoria Colvin, owned by Betsee Parker
12. VIP Z, ridden by Victoria Colvin, owned by Scott Stewart