JEFF GOGUL AND SNOWBIRD SOAR TO VICTORY IN THE $5,000 USHJA NATIONAL HUNTER DERBY
Donning a commemorative blue ribbon on his hunt coat, Jeff Gogul earned another blue ribbon, piloting Sofia Roberts, LLC's Snowbird to win the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby sponsored by the World Equestrian Center and Kentucky Horse Shows, LLC. Entering the ring as the final competitor over a multiple option course designed by Danny Moore, Gogul upset Victoria Colvin's commanding lead aboard Caliber, with a score of 184.
Out of twenty-five entries in the Stonelea ring, only the top twelve combinations who scored an 80 or above in the classic round were invited back to vie for top honors and a pair of luxurious Fabbri boots. Gogul had an almost flawless first round aboard the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Snowbird, receiving a 86 from the judges. He also received four additional bonus points for taking all the high options. The score was high enough to position Gogul in first place going into the handy round, but Winn Alden and World Affair were not far behind with an 89.
Heading into the handy round, Gogul had the advantage of going last in the order, but he knew they would have close competition. Victoria Colvin who won the USHJA National Hunter Derby with Caliber during the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, was on track for another victory, rising to the top of the leaderboard with a high score of 92. As the final rider on course, Gogul was prepared with multiple plans after the trot jump at fence four. Calling upon the gelding's bravery and natural jumping ability, Gogul guided Snowbird over all of the high options, earning them four extra bonus points. The pair received a score 90 from the judges, ensuring their victory in the class.
Snowbird, who has spent the winter showing indoors at the World Equestrian Center, only started showing outside last week at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. During that first week under Kentucky's blue skies, the pair placed fourth in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Today, Gogul not only came into the ring prepared to win but he felt the added presence of his beloved friend, Ellen Veitch, who's memory was honored today by spectators, riders and show organizers alike with 'A Day in the Park.' As he took his victory lap, blue braids standing out in Snowbird's mane, Gogul reflected on what a perfect day it was to honor his friend who loved her home state of Kentucky and horses equally.
Victoria Colvin secured the second place honors with a score of 179 aboard Laura Karet's Calibur. Winn Alden scored 178.5 aboard World Affair, owned by Southern Arches,LLC.
The final day of hunter and jumper competition for the Kentucky Spring Horse Show Series begins tomorrow morning at 8:00am.
FROM THE WINNER'S CIRCLE
On His Plan:
"We took a look from the far end of the ring because during the course walk we had so many horses still showing that we were a little late and I didn't really get to plan for the handy. So we were trying to decide what the options were from outside of the ring and whether the one turn through the center back to jump 5 was a viable option to be a little handier. My horse is super brave and I know I can count on him if he only has a moment's notice, but I didn't want to take too big of a risk coming in on top if we didn't need to so we had a plan A and plan B for after the trot jump."
"We're big foodies and we love the great restaurants in Lexington and I could drive around for hours through thoroughbred country for certain. I've been coming here since I was 16. The week I got my driver's license I shipped my own horse here as a kid and showed for the first time at the Kentucky Horse Park and I've been coming here ever since. Truthfully it feels like home."
On Honoring Ellen Veitch:
"We adored her, she adored my daughter Riley. It was definitely sad to walk into the horse show office the first time and know that she wasn't going to be there and see her smile. It felt like she was with me today. I know she loved all of this, she would have been equally as happy to spend time out here with all the people and riders as opposed to doing what she did so well in the office behind the scenes."
USHJA National Hunter Derby
Snowbird / Jeff Gogul / Sofia Roberts, LLC / 184
Caliber / Victoria Colvin / Laura Karet / 179
World Affair / Winn Alden / Southern Arches, LLC / 178.5
Harper Lee / Victoria Colvin / Laura Karet / 177.5
Montenegro / Meghan Kaupp / Lilly Ulrich / 174.75
Paladar / Callie Schott / Liza Macmillan / 173.5
Market Trend / Taylor Kain / Tanna Seltzer / 173.25
Premium Blend / Alyssa Mansfield / Stone Lane Farm / 173
Rio's Figaro / Taylor Kain / Daryl Ziegler Henning /169
Dallas / Meghan Kaupp / Lydia Ulrich / 159
Phantom / Leylan Gleeson / Stepping Stone Farm / 156
Fondant / Virginia Ingram / Virginia Ingram / 147.5