Aces and Eights Earns USHJA National Hunter Derby Title with Patricia Griffith

Patricia Griffith and Aces and Eights

Patricia Griffith and Aces and Eights

Closing out a competitive week of hunter competition at the Kentucky Horse Park, the USHJA National Hunter Derby title presented one final chance for hunter riders to earn the championship honors before week’s end. Nearly 50 pairs made their way to the Alltech Arena Sunday afternoon to tackle designer Joseph Carnicorn’s classic round course, each hoping to garner enough points to qualify for the handy round as one of the top 12 contenders. Rewarded with the highest score in each of the two rounds was Patricia Griffith and Aces and Eights, owned by Double Down Farm, LLC, to earn the lead spot in the victory gallop as the USHJA National Hunter Derby champions.

Patricia Griffith and Aces and Eights
Patricia Griffith and Aces and Eights

Having ridden to the high score of 92 during the classic round, Griffith and “Poker” sat at the head of the class and the last to go in the handy round. The 11 pairs prior each displayed varying amounts of handiness, some taking advantage of the course’s inside turns and high fence options, while others opted for wider approaches, with Jeff Gogul and Snowbird, owned by Sofia Roberts, LLC, riding to the lead as the second-to-last to enter the ring. Gogul and the grey horse were consistent over the two rounds of competition, earning twin 87 scores for a total of 174.00. As the last to go, Griffith and Poker needed a score of 82 to overtake the class leaders, and had no problem achieving that goal with their smooth handy round that pulled in a score of 89 from the judges panel. Combined with the 92 score from the classic round, Griffith and Poker finished on a 181.00 score, seven points ahead of Gogul.

Gogul and Snowbird finished the day in the reserve spot, followed by Jenny Karazissis and Dulcie Lou Morris’ Big Shot in third place with a composite score of 170.00, comprised of an 83.00 classic score and an 87.00 handy score. Fourth place was claimed by Taylor Adams and Lucretia, owned by Arose Farms, LLC, with their two-phase score of 167.00. Just a few points behind with marks of 164.50, Maddie Thorn and Echo Park, owned by L&W Equine Investments, LLC, nabbed the fifth position to round out the top spots.

Patricia Griffith and Aces and Eights; Jeff Gogul and Snowbird; and Jenny Karazissis and Big Shot
Patricia Griffith and Aces and Eights; Jeff Gogul and Snowbird; and Jenny Karazissis and Big Shot

The USHJA National Hunter Derby rounds out hunter competition during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show, but the KHJA Horse Show will bring competitors back to the Kentucky Horse Park Aug. 23–27, a week that will feature a $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by World Equestrian Center and Kentucky Horse shows, LLC.


Patricia Griffith – USHJA National Hunter Derby champion

On Aces and Eights:
“I catch rode him in about three shows two years ago for the owner, Jennifer Elliott, and then he had a huge break. I think they gave him the rest of that year off because he had just been gelded, and then he started back again and John French rode him a little bit in California before [Jennifer] called me in June. She said, ‘Hey I know you always had a good rapport with this horse, would you be interested in taking him?’ I said, ‘Of course,’ because I always loved him and he has been awesome for us.”

On her successes and plans for Aces and Eights:
“He is for sale, and I took him to Lake Placid, where he was champion both weeks. Then he won a derby at [HITS] Saugerties. He came here and I was really proud of him, he was champion in the Performance Working 3’3” Hunters, which had 100 in it during the second day. I really love the horse. He is elastic in his jump and has a beautiful way of covering the ground. He is brave so these are the perfect classes for him to get his feet wet before he jumps higher. He will do the First Years next year.”

On the handy course:
“There was a very hard option from [fence] two to [fence] three that I thought would be better probably not for today, as this is only the third or fourth handy he has really done with me. I thought the turn back to the vertical actually worked really well. It looked a lot harder than it was when you got in there, and I thought it was presented really nicely, especially for my horse. For a younger horse, it was perfect to get in the indoor around a nice, inviting track.”


Place / Rider / Horse / Owner / Classic Score / Handy Score / Final

USHJA National Hunter Derby
1. Patricia Griffith / Aces and Eights / Double Down Farm, LLC / 92.000 / 89.000 / 181.00
2. Jeff Gogul / Snowbird / Sofia Roberts, LLC / 87.000 / 87.000 / 174.00
3. Jenny Karazissis / Big Shot / Dulcie Lou Morris / 83.000 / 87.000 / 170.00
4. Taylor Adams / Lucretia / Arose Farms, LLC / 81.000 / 86.000 / 167.00
5. Maddie Thorn / Echo Park / L&W Equine Investments, LLC / 84.500 / 80.000 / 164.50
6. Augusta Iwasaki / Illusion / Iwasaki & Reilly / 83.500 / 77.000 / 160.50
7. Nada Wise / Sunday Morning / Kirby Mccool / 88.000 / 72.000 / 160.00
8. Jeff Gogul / Cortese / Stadium Horses, LLC / 87.500 / 69.000 / 156.50
9. Holly Shepherd / Cesar De Lison Z / Belle Rolfe / 86.000 / 67.000 / 153.00
10. Amanda Shaw / Contemporary / Amanda Shaw / 82.000 / 69.000 / 151.00

For more information on the USHJA National Hunter Derby, please click here.