Victoria Colvin guided Heritage Farm’s Vaillero to the top score (182.5) to claim the $50,000 iHeartMedia Hunter Derby, presented by Ghurka, the kick-off hunter class at the 40th annual Hampton Classic.
Galloping around two separate courses in the sprawling, grass-covered Grand Prix Ring, Colvin and Vaillero topped Kelly Tropin on Libertas Farms LLC’s Chablis (174.0) and Daisy Farish on Heritage Farm’s Pioneer (173.0)
“I always love to ride on the big grass fields, and these jumps look amazing to me. I especially like that they used the bank in the handy round, so it’s a real derby kind of course,” said Colvin, who also finished sixth on Dr. Betsee Parker’s Avalanche. “These two horses didn’t really look at anything around the ring, but it’s a big view for any horse to go into the Grand Prix Ring here.”
Colvin, 18, was pleasantly surprised to take the lead on Vaillero in the first round, scoring 88.5 points from the judges, seated at different locations around the ring.
“Vaillero really didn’t jump as high as I thought he would in the first round. He actually had a rub on one of the oxers—which was shocking—but then I jumped the [four] high options, so that really didn’t matter,” said Colvin. “And then in the handy round, I just thought, ‘Pick up a gallop and jump as tight as I can,’ and he jumped amazing.”
In the first round, the judges evaluated the horses as they cleared a dozen jumps set on a galloping track all around the ring. And in the second round, over a shorter, tighter track with a fence jumped at the trot and a gallop on and off the bank jump, judges evaluated their handiness, or immediate acceptance of their rider’s aids, as well as their jump style and technique.
In addition to earning the top score in the first round, Vaillero also earned the top score in the second round (94). Colvin rode to the second-best score in the second round on Avalanche (91).
Colvin started riding Vaillero in the spring, in the hunter derbies and the high-performance hunter sections. Avalanche was just imported in July from Europe, where he was too slow to make the grade as a jumper. Colvin intends to ride him in the equitation division in the near future.
Although she’s won numerous junior hunter championship and equitation classes at the Hampton Classic during the last four years, Colvin, who calls Wellington, Fla., home, said that she prefers to ride in the hunter derby classes. She’s won many of them, at shows up and down the East Coast.
“They’re different than the regular hunter classes. It’s a little more jumpery. I always love the derbies. They’re pretty much my favorite classes. It’s great how they’ve grown and added another aspect to the hunters,” she said.