Eleanor Kunsman and Beckham Seal the Deal in $5,000 USHJA National Derby, presented by Eastern Hay

Eleanor Kunsman and Beckham. Photo by Paws and Rewind

Eleanor Kunsman and Beckham. Photo by Paws and Rewind

GLADSTONE, N.J. — April 30, 2019 — Twenty-two horse-and-rider combinations made an appearance in the USET Main Ring at Hamilton Farm for the $5,000 USHJA National Derby, Presented by Eastern Hay. Athletes ranging from young amateurs to experienced professionals contested Joseph Carnicom’s course and the top 12 highest-scoring competitors were invited to return for the handy course. After returning in the fifth place position, Eleanor Kunsman’s incredible display of handiness won her and Glen Eden LLC’s Beckham the top honors.

The Garden State Horse Show will hold top AA’ rated hunter and jumper competition through Sunday, May 5, 2019. The week is the inaugural year at the iconic Hamilton Farm, which is home to the United States Equestrian Team Foundation headquarters. 

The first-round course offered riders four high-option fences and following the 22 entries, saw a returning cut-off score of 77.50 points. Kunsman’s first round had earned her a score of 86.00 points but she and the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding answered all of the right questions with graceful handiness to produce a whopping second round score of 94.00. Their final total of 180.00 points would be challenged by four following riders but held as the top score through the end of competition. 

Kunsman was only reunited with the gelding several months ago after the two had gone separate ways for the past several years. During their time apart, Beckham has found success in the Junior Hunters but she looks forward to his future in the derby ring. 

Kathy Kunsman, Eric the Doberman, Lauren Sabo, Eleanor Kunsman and Beckham, Chris Johnson of Eastern Hay, and John and Ashley Buehler with Seahorse Tack Trunks. Photo by Paws and Rewind

Kathy Kunsman, Eric the Doberman, Lauren Sabo, Eleanor Kunsman and Beckham, Chris Johnson of Eastern Hay, and John and Ashley Buehler with Seahorse Tack Trunks. Photo by Paws and Rewind

“I’m sure down the road he will be looking towards doing some International Derby events because he has quite a lot of scope and he is very quickly learning how to be handy,” she said. 

“I thought the handy asked a lot of questions and gave the riders a lot of ways to really impress the judges with their ride,” Kunsman continued, about the course. “The track from the first to second fence had a tight inside turn, and the rollback to the oxer after the trot fence needed to be incredibly precise if you were going to complete the high option successfully. It seemed like luck today for me that those two areas just came right out of stride for him.”

Morgan Ward, Saturday’s $10,000 Stal de Eyckenhoeve Hunter Derby winner, took the reserve title, this time with Legolas. Ward has only had the ride on the 12-year-old Warmblood gelding for two weeks after purchasing him in Florida from Seth Vallhonrat. While the gelding had previously been competing in the jumper discipline in Europe, his handiness has already served him well in the hunter ring. The pair returned with the third-highest first round score of 89.00 points and upped their game for a handy score of 90.00 which placed them only a point behind Kunsman on a total of 179.00 combined points. 

Morgan Ward and Legolas. Photo by Paws and Rewind

Morgan Ward and Legolas. Photo by Paws and Rewind

“I saw this horse while I was in Florida and I just knew I had to have him,” commented Ward. “He handled the questions asked in the handy even better than I would’ve expected today and I’m looking forward to pursuing his future in the derbies.” 

Junior rider Angela Jager held the lead heading into the handy phase of competition with an impressive first-round score of 90.00 points. She and her self-owned 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Cassini’s Home Run, picked up a score of 87.50 points in the second phase to round out the top three on a total of 178.50 total points. 

Angela Jager and Cassini’s Home Run. Photo by Paws and Rewind

Angela Jager and Cassini’s Home Run. Photo by Paws and Rewind

“My first derby at this location was at a Monmouth at the Team show and he was wonderful, but today he really stepped up and he was even better,” Jager stated. “I think it was great preparation for us to do some of the hunter finals and it was very exciting to do so well among some great professionals.” 

“I thought today’s derby was really great, the riders all did a beautiful job and this facility is like no other,” said Chris Johnson of Eastern Hay. “We love spending time here because it’s such a great atmosphere.” 

The day also saw several talented riders named as champions of their respective divisions from the Hopeful Hunters to the Amateur Owner Hunters. Young professional Libby Dayton piloted Ellen Marshall’s Corenties Z to the champion title of the Hopeful Hunter 2’3” while Katie Milton and Valerie Primavera’s Joyful captured the Baby Green Hunter 2’6” division. Entries in the Schooling Hunter 2’6” and Gladstone Hunter 2’9” division were combined and Chloe Pedersen rode Centenary University’s Desposito to the tricolor ribbon. The Green Working Hunter 3” champion title went to Osvaldo Ornia Pacher with Palermo Show Stable, LLC’s Caro, while the Suitable Hunter 3” champion was awarded to Angela Cammarata with Centenary University’s Eden Rock. 

Suitable Hunter 3” winner Angela Cammarata and Eden Rock. Photo by Paws and Rewind

Suitable Hunter 3” winner Angela Cammarata and Eden Rock. Photo by Paws and Rewind

The Le Fash Style of Riding award was received by top rider and trainer, Michael Desidario, of Tranquillity Farm. The Desiderio family and their Tranquillity Farm, located in Chester, New Jersey, is well-known in the area and on the show circuit. Led by parents Stephanie and Ricci, they run a top-notch hunter/jumper show operation and also compete Arabians at eight to 4-6 shows each year. They currently have about 65 horses in training. Desiderio’s brother Vinnie and sister, Alexandria, a recent Texas A&M graduate, share his love for the show ring. 

Michael Desiderio with Le Fash owner Arianna Vastino. Photo by Paws and Rewind

Michael Desiderio with Le Fash owner Arianna Vastino. Photo by Paws and Rewind

Competition will resume Wednesday, May 1 with the Amateur Owner Hunter 3’6” division in the USET Main Ring. 

Sponsor Spotlight

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Eastern Hay is a family-owned and operated business with over 30 years of history as a premier producer, dealer and broker of the best quality grain, hay and bedding products for the East Coast equine market. Eastern Hay produces a significant portion of the hay they sell.

Chris Johnson, owner of Eastern Hay, has spent his lifetime learning about farming. He shares his expertise with his three sons and staff. Together they produce and source the best quality products all year-round. They know firsthand what goes into growing quality forage and they use no chemicals to cure their hay, and do not source or sell chemically-treated hay. 

They offer a variety of hays, such as premium Western hay (alfalfa, timothy and an alfalfa/timothy mix) and locally produced grass and orchard hay. Eastern Hay provides options like classic 45-pound "kicker" bales, 65-pound commercial bales, 600-pound square bales and 1000-pound round bales. In addition, they stock both large (show flakes) and small flake shavings in paper or plastic bags and straw in various sizes.

Eastern Hay’s diverse sources and efficient supply network ensure that clients will always have what they need, no matter the weather or supply shortages. Customers are always welcome to visit the Eastern Hay warehouse to view and sample our inventory.

Eastern Hay delivers what horses need to stay healthy, happy and perform at their best. From backyard barns to facilities boarding over 100 horses, Eastern Hay supplies any size operation. Their clients include some of the most notable equestrian athletes, Olympic medalists, horse show venues, zoos, government agencies and international customers.

For more information, visit our website at www.easternhay.com, or call us at (845) 855-3291.