GLADSTONE, N.J. — April 27, 2019 — The opening day of the 2019 Garden State Horse Show, presented by the Junior Essex Troop, kicked off with a full schedule of junior/amateur and professional hunter competition. The highlight of the day featured the $10,000 Stal de Eyckenhoeve Hunter Derby consisting of three sections from heights of 2”, 2’6”, and 3”. Hannah Politsky and Brixten were the ultimate victors of the 2”-2’6” division while Morgan Ward and Huehuetenango nabbed the top spot of the 3’ division.
The premier AA hunter/jumper show is celebrating its inaugural year at the iconic Hamilton Farm, which is home to the United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation. The event hosts top quality hunter and jumper competition from April 27 through May 5, and features boutique shopping and special competitor prizes.
The derby hosted a total of 69 horse-and-rider combinations across the three height sections and included both amateur and professional riders. Joseph Carnicom of Toledo, Ohio designed the inaugural derby course that took place on Saturday afternoon.
Results from the 2” and 2’6” sections were combined and the top 12 highest-scoring riders from both sections were invited to return for the handy round. The 21 competitors in the 3’ division were invited to contest the first course with the top 12 returning, and were scored separately. Winners from both sections were presented with custom wall boxes from Autumn Siliato of Autumn Elizabeth Apparel as well as a portion of the $10,000 prize money.
After earning the Style of Riding award earlier in the day, New Jersey resident Morgan Ward piloted Huehuetenango to the top spot in the 3” division of the derby. The pair earned the third highest score in the first round with an 84.00 and were followed only by Mia Chimenti and Kianna Luscher. Ward laid down a second round trip of 87.00 points and proved impossible to beat with a total of 171.00 overall points.
She and her own 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare were previously partnered during Ward’s junior years where they competed successfully in the Large Junior Hunters. Several years later, the mare found her way back to the Ward family and now competes with Morgan in the hunter derbies and with her younger sister in the amateur hunter divisions.
“This mare always brings her best for these hunter derbies and they are definitely her forte,” Ward said.
“Coming back for the handy round, we were third in the ranking so I knew we had to step up and get a few extra points if we wanted the win,” she continued. “I made one very nice inside turn that a lot of people didn’t want to chance, but I know her well enough that I knew she could pull it off.”
Laying down duplicate scores of 81.00 points in both rounds for a total of 162.00, New Jersey native Hannah Politsky and Brixten were awarded the second blue ribbon for the highest score of the 2”-2’6” section. Politsky and Brixten have only been paired for approximately a month and, although he was purchased as a jumper, Brixten proved to be a jack of all trades.
“We just bought [Brixten] a little less than a month ago and we typically show him in the 2’6” jumpers, but we brought him to the derby today just as an experiment and obviously it worked out really well,” Politsky said. “Even though we haven’t had him very long, he’s been very reliable and I knew I could count on him to perform well today.”
Earning the reserve in the 3” section, talented junior rider Mia Chimenti secured the second place ribbon on a total of 170.00 points with Chase Hollow Equestrian Partners’ Ericsson.
“It’s amazing for me to have placed so well in any derby, but when competing against a group of such well-established professionals, it’s really something special,” she said.
Chimenti was one of the youngest athletes in the division at only 16 years old and her partnership with the 13-year-old Polish Warmblood gelding was only established several years ago.
“We bought this horse in the beginning of 2017 after I decided to move up from the pony rings,” she explained. “He was supposed to just be for me to get into the children’s hunters on but he has been amazing and has far exceeded our goals.”
Keeping neck-and-neck with older sister Mia, young junior Sophia Chimenti and ‘bel Of The Ball took the second place award in the 2”-2’6” division on a total of 161.00 points. Chimenti and the Chase Hollow Equestrian Partners, LLC’s 14-year-old mare held the lead from the first round with a score of 82.00 but fell only a point behind Politsky after producing a second round score of 79.00 points.
“I really liked the course; I felt like it had some good options and areas where you could produce some good inside turns,” Chimenti commented, “I’m looking forward to continuing the week with her in the Children’s Ponies.” While the derby was one of the first major events Chimenti has competed in with Bel, the mare has been a part of the Chimenti family for the past four years under the guidance of Sophia’s older sister, Mia.
Jessica Maye and Ashley Dibongrazio’s Diamond In the Sky secured the third place position after totaling 154.50. She and the 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding combined their scores of 80.00 points and 74.50 points to round out the top three of the 2”-2’6”.
Throughout the day, awards were also distributed for Sportsmanship and Style of Riding. Young junior Kaylee Falt won the Sportsmanship award, sponsored by Lineage Equine, following her performance in the Mini Stirrup Walk/Trot division aboard RSD Smokin Joe.
Professional rider Morgan Ward was honored with the first Le Fash Style of Riding award and received a $150 gift certificate towards a Le Fash shopping experience.
“I love this horse show, it’s a beautiful venue and a great experience, and to win both this Style of Riding award, and the derby class has made it a really incredible day,” Ward said.
Competition at the 2019 Garden State Horse Show will continue on Sunday, April 28 with a variety of pony and adult hunter classes.
Stal De Eyckenhoeve, sponsors of the opening day hunter derby, is owned and operated by Niels Haesen and Maxime Tyteca, Together they buy and sell world-class hunters, jumpers and equitation horses. They also have a breeding operation and present their young stallions at European breed approvals and compete at European-approved stallion and jumper shows. Stal de Eyckenhoeve caters to trainers looking for outstanding prospects and talented horses ready to go to the ring and shine.
One of many notable Stal de Eyckenhoeve imports is Just Ask, owned by the Roberts Stables, who was 2017 3’ Green Hunter national champion and the 2018 USHJA 3’6” Green Hunter Horse of The Year.
Rogers is one of many equestrian professionals that have worked with Stal de Eyckenhoeve to find successful mounts. Courtney Lenkart, Tim and Kelly Goguen, Andrew Vaziri, John French, Connie Stevens, Chance Arakelian, The Toons, Michael Dowling, Kathy Kunsman, Michael Desiderio and Paul Valiere have all worked with Haesen and Tyteca to source top show horses.
Stal de Eyckenhoeve is based in Ocala for four months during the winter circuit at a property adjacent to the new World Equestrian Center. They will be in the U.S. to meet with prospective buyers during County Heir I & II in Kentucky in June and Monmouth at the Team in Gladstone in August. Click here for more information about Stal de Eyckenhoeve.