[Wellington, FL] As a top show jumper, Molly Ashe Cawley has ridden in her fair share of jump offs. Yesterday however, she rode in a jump off that was strikingly different than any of the others – it took place in a hunter derby.
After a rare finish, Ashe and Kristen Abbatiello-Neff’s Kennzo earned the exciting victory in the Winter Equestrian Festival $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
From a starting field of 50 in Saturday’s classic hunter round, the top 25 returned to the E.R. Mische Grand Hunter Ring on Sunday afternoon for the handy hunter round where it all came down to two – Ashe and Kennzo and Kate Ross and Friday Night.
Following the classic hunter phase, Ashe and Kennzo came in to the handy round in third place with a combined score from the two judging panels of 178. Ross and Friday Night sat six points behind in seventh place, but when Ross and Friday Night earned scores of 90 from both judging panels, along with handy bonus points of eight and nine, they shot straight to the top of the leaderboard. Those scores would hold up as the best handy round scores all day and would give her a cumulative overall total of 371.
No one came within reach of Ross and Friday Night’s scores until Ashe and Kennzo cantered over the final oxer toward the ingate, closing out a seamless round that earned them scores from the judges of 89.5 plus eight handy bonus points and 84.5 plus five handy bonus points. Those scores, coupled with points for three high option fences would give Ashe and Kennzo a two round total of 371 – the same score as Ross.
In the rare event of a tie after the second round (something that has only happened one other time in hunter derby competition) it comes down to a third, jump off round. With no third round course pre-designed, Ross and Ashe were asked to jump fences one through eight of the Kenneth Krome designed course again, with handy bonus and high option points still in play.
Ross was the first to return, and as a rail hit the ground Ashe knew the class was hers to win or lose. Kennzo rose to the occasion and turned in another beautiful tripping, securing the victory for Ashe and for the team at Norfield Stables LLC.
“I thought Kennzo was good in the handy. He was right there with me the whole time,” Ashe said. “He did everything perfectly.”
Ashe continued, “Kennzo was on his game. I haven’t shown him much recently, this is his third hunter derby this season…he comes out and his great every time. I was sort of sad that we didn’t get to go in the field [at The Stadium] today to be honest with you. He likes things like that. The Grand Hunter ring he seems a little bored sometimes in here, but they made a very exciting course today that sort of had us all quaking in our boots I would say.”
The win for Kennzo and Ashe comes as the final exclamation point on a successful Winter Equestrian Festival season for Norfield Stables LLC. The team will now return home to their two bases at the beautiful Red Gate Farm in Newtown, CT and Sleepy Hollow Stables in Scarborough, NY.
Norfield Stables LLC is a full service riding and training facility run by Molly Ashe Cawley, Chris Cawley, Timmy Kees and Emanuel Camilli. With all four talented riders and trainers at the helm, Norfield Stables LLC is able to cater to riders across the equitation, hunter and jumper divisions. Norfield Stables expanded to Sleepy Hollow Stables in 2013, and with its ideal location just 30 miles from New York City, Norfield is easily accessible to riders coming from the city. To learn more about Norfield Stables LLC find them on Facebook here!
-Photos and story by Emily Riden