The Exciting Evolution of the Derby

USHJA CEO, Shelby French

August 27, 2012



The 2012 Derby Finals clearly demonstrated how small changes can have a huge impact. The addition of the $15,000 Consolation Round sponsored by Moyer Farms and the change in the qualifying criteria took the Derby entries to an all-time high of 95 horses. From talking with exhibitors, it was obvious that the most significant factor resulting in this increase was the addition of the Consolation Round which allowed 30 horses and riders a chance to come back and compete over a Steve Stephens’ Handy Course on Saturday afternoon. Of course, having a shot at winning some prize money was also a positive, but even those who didn’t think they were going to take home a ribbon or prize money were excited to have the opportunity to compete a second time.

While the excitement was building over the past three months for the 2012 Finals, a small task force of riders, trainers and competition managers from across the country was meeting weekly under the leadership of Ron Danta to develop a five year plan for the International Hunter Derby Program. The task force surveyed over 1700 riders, owners and trainers who have been involved in the Derby program during the past four years, as well as soliciting input from managers who have hosted Derby series events. The group members had very diverse viewpoints about the program’s future and they each spoke to exhibitors and managers to bring more input to the discussion. Over months of conversation, tough discussions and compromise, the task force developed a plan that provides flexibility and will allow the Derby program to grow and flourish over the next five years.

We are very sensitive to the number of changes that have been made to this growing program over the past four years and therefore, created a five year timeline for the gradual implementation of any future changes. The first amendments are as follows:

  • The 2013-14 Series will be an 18 month series beginning on June 2, 2013 and running through November 30, 2014. This change will allow the annual Series Awards to be in sync with our competition year beginning in 2015. Applications to host a Derby in the 2013-14 Series will be accepted starting September 1 through November 1, 2012.

  • The Finals will be renamed the International Hunter Derby Championship beginning in 2013 but the qualifying time period, date and location of the event will remain the same. Having the Series Awards tied to the normal competition year will allow them to become a bigger highlight of the program.

  • In order to grow the purse at the Championship, beginning in 2013, there will be a $750 entry fee with a minimum of 80% or $600 of each entry fee added back to the base prize money. This will allow us to build on the success achieved this year through the addition of the Consolation Round with its additional purse.

  • The final new aspect to the program for 2013-14 is revamping the Derby Regions and creating Regional Standings. To support monetary awards for the top competitors in each Region, we will establish a voluntary $200 enrollment fee for those riders who want to be eligible for regional awards, have their earnings included in the Derby Standings and be eligible to qualify for the 2014 Championship. A minimum of sixty percent of enrollment fee monies will be distributed to the top six placing riders in each region.

These are progressive and well thought out steps to be implemented over the coming months that the task force believes will have positive impacts for the program’s future. Keep reading your Hunter E News and In Stride to get the latest information.

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