Lisa Rex Claims $5,000 Hunter Derby Victory at Vermont Summer Festival

Lisa Rex of Westbury, NY, won the $5,000 3’3” NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Eastern Hay, on Thursday, July 6, during the first of six weeks of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival, running through August 13 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.

©Andrew Ryback Photography

Spanning two competition rings, the derby courses, which featured both traditional hunter jumps and innovative derby-style fences, were designed by Joe Carnicom of Toledo, OH. In the opening round, Rex riding The Exchange, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Over The Top Stables, LLC, earned the top score of an 86 from judge Scott Hofstetter of Ocala, FL. Returning for the second round, Rex earned a handy score of 81 for a two-round total of 167, clinching the win by more than five points.

Melissa Spadaccini of New Vernon, NJ, piloted Castle, owned by Helaina Beard, to scores of 79.5 and 82 for a total of 161.5 for second place. Third-place was presented to Emma Schauder of Greenwich, CT, riding In The Loop for owner Tracy Hart, with combined scores of 77 and 83 for a total of 160. Schauder was also recognized as the high-point amateur rider in the $5,000 3’3” NEHJA Hunter Derby while ninth-place finisher, Sarah Sardella, 14, of Bow, NH, was named the high-point junior rider with Writtle, owned by Nicole Sardella.

Gregory Prince of Sherborn, MA, finished fourth riding Benicio, owned by Rosalie Giordano, with scores of 79 and 80 for a total of 159. Rounding out the top five was Canadian rider Gavin Moylan, currently based in Middleburg, VA, who rode String Of Pearls, owned by Priscilla Denegre, to scores of 81 and 72.5 for a 153.5 total.

In addition to her share of the prize money, Rex was presented with a Land Rover Experience Driving School off-road excursion by class sponsor, Eastern Hay. “The presentation was so beautiful and the management here does such a nice job,” said Rex, who has been attending the Vermont Summer Festival for nearly 30 years. “I love these derbies. It is so nice to have the two rings and different styles of jumps. This is a great place to be!”

Of The Exchange, who also competes in the junior hunter divisions with Alexa Schwitzer, Rex noted, “He’s a dream. He is the most lovely horse with the most lovely brain you’ve ever worked with. He’s easy to ride, always gives you his best, and is sweet like a puppy dog. The second-round course really allowed him to do some handy things and it was really fun.”

Rex will compete with 14 horses during this year’s Vermont Summer Festival, noting it is her favorite event of the year. “It is a beautiful place to be and every time you look past the rings, you can’t help but recognize how magnificent it is,” said Rex, who will be showing for a total of four weeks during the six-week circuit.