Lexington, Ky.—-June 6, 2017 —- The USHJA International Hunter Derby Program has reached a new milestone, paying out more than $10 million to Derby competitors in less than 10 years.
The program, credited with adding new excitement to the Hunter discipline, is slated to be held at a total of 75 competitions by the end of 2017, and the 2017 Championship will be held August 17-19 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.
Kristy Herrera piloted Helen Lenahan’s Miss Lucy to top honors at the 2016 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship last August. Photo credit: Shawn McMillan Photography
“Thinking back to the start of the program, it was almost unfathomable that we would hit $10 million in prize money from the series and the championship within nine years of the program’s start,” said Ron Danta, chair of the USHJA International Hunter Derby & Incentive Task Force. “To achieve $10 million in the Hunter sport is something I never believed would happen this quickly. I thought the evolution would take a lot longer, but these numbers show you how popular the program has become throughout the country.”
Tammy Provost of Zionsville, Indiana, won the inaugural 2008 USHJA International Hunter Derby class on December 7, 2007, at the Lake St. Holiday Series in Lake St. Louis, Missouri, aboard Penny Cooper’s Daiquiri. Since that time, more than 500 International Hunter Derbies have been held across the United States.
Tammy Provost aboard Penny Cooper’s Daiquiri won the inaugural USHJA International Hunter Derby in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo credit: Dan Busse
In 2009, the USHJA introduced a championship for the program, which offered the top 75 International Hunter Derby horses based on earnings invitations to compete for $100,000 in prize money. John French and Mountain Home Stables’ Rumba won the inaugural championship. Since then, the annual event has paid out more than $1.2 million.
John French and Mountain Home Stables’ Rumba earn the Championship title at the 2009 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals, Presented by Dietrich Insurance. Photo credit: Julie Moses
The 2017 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship base prize money will again be $100,000 with 60 percent of enrollment fees and 80 percent of entry fees added back to the total prize money offered. The event will also offer a $10,000 Derby Challenge to competitors who do not qualify for the final Handy Round. This year, the USHJA invites all Championship competitors to share their stories of preparation for the International Hunter Derby Championship via social media using the hashtag #DestinationDerby.
Every horse enrolled in the USHJA International Hunter Derby Program that earns a minimum of $500 in USHJA International Hunter Derby classes, while enrolled, at competitions starting between June 2, 2016, and June 1, 2017, is eligible to compete at the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship. A Premium Entry Option is available to allow owners to enter horses in the Championship that for various reasons, were not able to qualify through the standard process. Horses entered under the Premium Entry Option must still enroll in the program and pay the class entry fee; 100 percent of the Premium Entry Option fee will go toward the total prize money. Invitations to this year’s Championship will be distributed this month.
The program’s success led to the development of the USHJA National Hunter Derby in 2010, which simulated the USHJA International Hunter Derby in a format open to riders and their horses competing at 3’0″ in height with higher option fences set at 3’5″. In 2017, the USHJA launched the Pony Hunter Derby series that runs similarly to the National Hunter Derby, offering classes at competitions across the country with no enrollment structure.
For more information about the USHJA International Hunter Derby Program, visit ushja.org/IHD.