Erynn Ballard of Tottenham, ON claimed the Canadian Hunter Derby National Championship for the second time in her career on Nov. 7, 2017 at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto, ON.
Interestingly, the 2017 edition of the Championship resulted in a tie for the title after both Ballard and Enchanted, and 2016 champions Darcy Hayes of Aurora, ON and Say When, each earned a first and second place finish across the two nights of competition – which saw the top 20 hunter derby combinations in the country go head-to-head.
Ultimately, a tie-breaker gave Ballard the title riding the six-year-old hunter phenom, Enchanted, a Dutch Warmblood mare sired by Bustique and owned by Christel Weller. The pair started out with a total score of 100.00 out of a possible 120 points in the $15,000 Braeburn Farms Canadian Hunter Derby on Nov. 5 for second place.
Ballard spoke to her history with Enchanted, explaining that she found the talented young mare at a 2016 sport horse auction put on by Paul Hendrix in The Netherlands. “Paul said, ‘I want you to try this horse,’ and I said, ‘Paul, I am never going to buy this horse. She is too big, she’s a mare, she is five years old – I am not buying her.’ I rode her the first day and did not give her much time, and then I watched the video and I had to call him and say, ‘You’re right and I’m wrong. Can I please try her again, I really like her.’”
“She is a very special horse,” continued Ballard, who also earned the national championship title in 2015 aboard Valentino Now. “She is very sure of herself for a six-year-old. To go into that pressure situation and to do so well is great.”
However, the leaderboard belonged to Hayes on opening night after she piloted veteran hunter champion, Say When, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding sired by Whitaker and owned by Danielle Trudell-Baran, to an outstanding score of 110.00 – which would prove to be the highest score of the 2017 finale.
Following the traditional Hunter Derby scoring format, each entry received a hunter score out of 100, plus up to 20 extra points through high performance and handy bonuses. High performance bonus marks were awarded at a rate of two points for each high performance option taken on the course – which included higher jumps and more challenging line options. Handy bonus points were given at the discretion of the judges for handiness displayed on course, such as unique approaches to jumps, and an impressionable start and/or finish to the course.
After capitalizing on the bonus point structure, Ballard’s turn in the winner’s circle came on Nov. 7 in the $25,000 Knightwood Canadian Hunter Derby. Upping their game, Ballard and Enchanted garnered a score of 109.00 points after taking every risky option and inside turn available, yet keeping a smooth, balanced pace and picture-perfect jumping technique. Ballard’s risks paid off when the judges, Chance Arakelian of Rancho Santa Fe, CA and James Clapperton of Morriston, FL, rewarded her with a hunter score of 90, 10 high performance points, and a handy bonus score of nine.
“My focus in the derby is always to get the highest hunter score that I can get because that is out of 100,” explained Ballard. “Your handy and your high options are out of 20, so I’m always trying to aim for 100 and then the rest is icing. There is always a risk if you choose to do something a little less handy, or jump a smaller jump, but tonight I didn’t want to jump the big combination. I thought it was very impressive for a six-year-old, and it was off a short turn. But, I knew I had Say When to follow, and I was so good to that point that I risked it all to be first.”
Ballard continued to praise Enchanted, stating, “She rose to the occasion. She had every right to be tired. She had every right to make a mistake because she is just six. The horses were rubbing the jumps a little bit tonight, but she didn’t touch one. So, I think she liked the crowd; she knew it was important and she gave me her best effort.”
Hayes and Say When capped off their 2017 derby season during the finale on a hunter score of 82, plus 10 high performance points and seven handy bonus points for second place. Their Reserve Championship is added to a long list of derby successes, including back-to-back class wins during the 2016 national final.
“He’s actually easier to ride in a derby than he is in a regular hunter course,” explained Hayes of Say When. “I think he’s really smart, and the derby kind of peaks his interest and keeps him interested. He knows this is special and he knows he is special. He loves himself and we love him.”
As the overall champion across the two classes, Ballard was presented with the Lorna Jean Guthrie Challenge Trophy.
Several other awards were also given out following the Derby, with Brent Balisky from Langley, BC sweeping the Represent the West Championship, presented by the Equestrian Canada (EC) Jumping Committee – which provides a $6,000 award to the 2017 Western Region Champion, and $4,000 to the Reserve Champion. Balisky earned Champion with Wendy Valdes’ Class Act, and Reserve Champion aboard Easystreet, owned by Thunderbird Show Stables.
As the Eastern Champion, Isabelle Lapierre of Levis, QC was awarded the Prince of Thieves Trophy, presented by the Law family of St. Lazare, QC for her title aboard Carrera S, owned by Johannie Legare.
In addition, Muffie Guthrie from Guelph, ON was honoured with the Bob Rose Trophy, presented by Brian and Wendy O’Leary to the Top Amateur Derby Rider, for her results aboard Lucky 2 Knight, owned by Knightwood Stables.
$15,000 Braeburn Farms Canadian Hunter Derby – Nov. 5, 2017
Placing / Rider / Hometown / Horse / Owner / Score
1st / Darcy Hayes / Aurora, ON / Say When / Danielle Trudell-Baran / 110.00
2nd / Erynn Ballard / Tottenham, ON / Enchanted / Christel Weller / 100.00
3rd / Brent Balisky / Langley, BC / Class Act / Wendy Valdes / 99.50
4th / Brent Balisky / Langley, BC / Easystreet / Thunderbird Show Stables / 99.00
5th / Muffie Guthrie / Guelph, ON / Damiro Van Ter Notelaere / Knightwood Stables / 98.00
6th / Scott McKay / Acton, ON / Cut To The Chase / Donna Vanderwoude-Dyment / 95.00
7th / Sam Walker / Nobleton, ON / Miracle / Marion Cunningham / 94.00
8th / Isabelle Lapierre / Levis, QC / Carrera S / Johannie Legare / 91.50
9th / Muffie Guthrie / Guelph, ON / Lucky 2 Knight / Knightwood Stables / 86.00
10th / Laura Jane Tidball / Langley, BC / Candyland / Thunderbird Show Stables / 85.00
11th / Quincy Hayes / Aurora, ON / Crush / Cawthra Burns / 84.00
12th / Courtney Thomas / Bedford, NS / Zazou / Courtney Thomas / 77.00
$25,000 Knightwood Canadian Hunter Derby – Nov. 7, 2017
Placing / Rider / Hometown / Horse / Owner / Score
1st / Erynn Ballard / Tottenham, ON / Enchanted / Christel Weller / 109.00
2nd / Darcy Hayes / Aurora, ON / Say When / Danielle Trudell-Baran / 99.00
3rd / Brent Balisky / Langley, BC / Class Act / Wendy Valdes / 97.50
4th / Muffie Guthrie / Guelph, ON / Lucky 2 Knight / Knightwood Stables /
5th / Brent Balisky / Langley, BC / Easystreet / Thunderbird Show Stables /
6th / Sam Walker / Nobleton, ON / Miracle / Marion Cunningham / 95.00
7th / Diana Dionisio / Burlington, ON / Lancelot / Diana Dionisio /
8th / Ryan Roy / King City, ON / Leopold / Nicole Gobbi /
9th / Quincy Hayes / Aurora, ON / King Bee / Louisa Brackett /
10th / Carly Stevens / Foothills, AB / Corona OS / Carly Stevens /
11th / Maude Boulanger Bouchard / Mirabel, QC / Geneva / Ecurie du Grand Coteau Inc. /
12th / Scott McKay / Acton, ON / Cut To The Chase / Donna Vanderwoude-Dyment / 81.00
For more information on the Canadian Hunter Derby National Championship, and a full list of results, visit www.royalfair.org.