By Phelps Media Group, Inc.
The kick-off of the 2017 Lexington Spring Premiere is quickly approaching and athletes are preparing for the $3,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby which will take place on Friday, April 28 at 5 p.m. The Virginia Horse Center will host the Lexington Spring Premiere Horse Show from Wednesday, April 26, to Sunday, April 30, immediately followed by the Lexington Spring Encore from Wednesday, May 3, to Sunday, May 7.
The derby competition will take place in Wiley Arena, an outdoor ring stretching 130 feet by 300 feet with footing composed of Kruse Cushion ride. The country’s top horse and rider combinations will compete over Paul Jewell’s hunter course to demonstrate their style during two rounds to win the Laura Pickett Perpetual Trophy, donated by Rolling Acres Show Stable.
The derby has been a tradition at the Virginia Horse Center for years and most recently it was Virginia native Jason Berry aboard Cobalt Blue R, a Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Oak Ledge Farm, who claimed the title in 2016.
Combinations participating in the Green or High Performance Conformation Hunter Divisions during the Spring Premiere and Encore will be eligible to qualify for the $7,500 Huntland Conformation Hunter Challenge Series. In an effort to promote the growth of the Conformation Hunter divisions in Virginia horse shows, the Challenge Series was created and sponsored by Dr. Betsee Parker and Huntland. Qualifying winners must compete at the Upperville Colt and Horse Show where the champion and reserve will be crowned.
New this year for the Lexington Spring Festival is the Trainer Incentive Program, offering one free stall per barn for a trainer-owned, professionally ridden show horse. This program is geared to help professionals in the process of developing young horses for competition.
Moving into the Lexington Spring Encore, the $15,000 Virginia Horse Center Hunter Classic will take center stage on Friday, May 5th at 5 p.m. Any horse participating in at least one of the hunter divisions at Virginia Horse Center is eligible to enter.
Unique to this class, $12,500 will be awarded in Classic prize money, while the remaining $2,500 in the form of a Jr./Amateur bonus, sponsored by Dorna Taintor, for the top six scoring Juniors or Amateurs.
Returning to the Wiley Arena, hunters will complete a Regular Classic Course over a minimum of 10 fences set at 3′ or 3’5″ for the first round. Only the top 12 scoring horses will qualify to compete in a second Classic round over a shortened course.
The Lexington Spring Premiere and Lexington Spring Encore are two of the biggest events of the spring for the Virginia Horse Center. In addition to the $3,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, the Lexington Spring Premiere is a World Champion Hunter Rider Event and features the $30,000 Rockbridge Grand Prix. The $15,000 Virginia Horse Center Hunter Classic takes center stage during the Lexington Spring Encore, followed by the $30,000 George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Grand Prix.