Sixteen-Year-Old Junior Places First and Third in Second International Hunter Derby Attempt
June 26, 2009
Abby O’Mara, a 16-year-old junior from Rumson, NJ, earned more than $6,000 in prize money after riding to a first- and third-place finish in the $15,000 The Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby at the State College Classic on June 26. The talented junior rode Don Stewart’s Walk Away to victory and finished third with her seven-year-old Irish Sport Horse, Terrapin Station.
The State College Classic Derby held at Kocher Farm in Pennsylvania Furnace, PA, was O’Mara’s second derby start. She had previously competed in last month’s derby at Devon aboard Terrapin Station. Though the pair gave their best effort over the first round’s classic course, they didn’t make the top 12 callback to compete in the second handy round and overall derby champion honors. Last week’s State College Classic derby proved to be a more successful venture for O’Mara. Not only did she and Terrapin Station finish the classic course in fourth place, but she rode the seven-year-old Thoroughbred, Walk Away, to a third-place finish behind Allegre McLaughlin’s Infinity’s End and Samantha Gauvain’s Roar With Laughter.
“The fences were set a little higher than what I normally show at, but it was a lot of fun. It was nice to have a couple of big jumps on course because you can really see the horse’s style come out,” O’Mara explained.
Derby courses feature natural obstacles set at 3’6–3’9 with several 4’0 fences included on course set as option jumps. In her first year of competing on Terrapin Station, O’Mara has shown the bay gelding in the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division and Hunter Seat Medal classes. Her partnership with Walk Away is even more recent, having only shown him once before in the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 division at HITS On The Hudson III where they received reserve champion honors.
In the derby’s second round, a handy course complete with fence height options and bending lines, O’Mara and Walk Away put in an exhilarating performance to finish the round in second place behind Jane Hosack’s Rich And Famous. Terrapin Station finished behind Felicia Harrsch’s Headlines for a fourth-place finish.
“At the end of the handy round, we had to dismount and then walk our horses over a log on the ground,” O’Mara explained. “Both of my horses handled it perfectly. Before competing in a derby, I had watched one of the classes where riders were required to do a similar thing. I was hoping we’d be asked to do something along the same line and was excited when we were.”
After points had been totaled from both rounds, Walk Away and O’Mara were declared class champions followed by Rich and Famous ridden by Carol Delacy as reserve champions, and Terrapin Station and O’Mara for third-place honors. Twenty-two horse-and-rider combinations competed in the class.
Visit www.ushja.org/ihd for a complete Derby schedule and more information.
The 2009/2010 USHJA International Hunter Derby Series is supported by the following sponsors: The Chronicle of the Horse–Title Sponsor; Dietrich Insurance-Presenting Sponsor; Charles Owen & Co.-Major Sponsor; Dover Saddlery-Major Sponsor; Essex Classics-Award Sponsor; The Clothes Horse-Award Sponsor.
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