chuyler Riley of Wellington, FL, and Cleopatra's Smile, owned by Wolfstone Stables and Sales Inc., were the winning pair in today's $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). The duo paved the way after the first round with a combined score of 181.5 and turned in another strong performance in the handy round, earning a score of 187 for a total score of 368.5. Liza Boyd of Camden, SC, and O'Ryan, owned by Stella Styslinger, secured the second place honors with a two round total of 367, while Jennifer Hannan of Wakefield, RI, and Olympic Fire, owned by Roger Smith, rounded out the top three with a two round total of 365.
Riley and Cleopatra's Smile were sitting in first place after the first round, returning last to test their abilities in the handy. Navigating the handy round with precision and beauty, the duo ended the day with a blue ribbon. Having only been partnered as a team since this past March, Riley was thrilled with the mare's performance today on the large derby field.
"She is new at this, so I tried to take as much time as possible to get to the first jump to allow her to take a breath by the time I was there. Everything rode exactly like I planned it," Riley detailed.
Cleopatra's Smile, a 9-year-old-mare, was competing in the jumpers when Riley imported her from Europe and knew the horse was destined to be a derby horse. "Whenever I go to Europe to try a horse to be a hunter, I let them loose to see what they do. A lot of them don't understand, but she got it by the second jump. She is really smart and really easy," she explained.
"I decided to bring her to Tryon because I just love her character. I think she has just blossomed because her character is so good. Her personality is just like a Labrador Retriever and as you watch her expression going around the course she zones in on the jump and her ears go forward. She really enjoys it," she said.
Well-known in the jumper ring, Riley is loving her time participating in the hunters and is excited to continue contesting opportunities with Cleopatra's Smile.
"For me, there is a lot more riding that has to go on. It is a lot more technical and you really have to be able to feel the horse because you are out there for a long time. You have to know what is happening underneath you and ride each jump separately. You also have to have a good sense of communication with the horse and they have to trust you. For me, I have as much fun in the derby field as I do in the jumper ring."
"I am not used to looking at the jumps so far away. I saw the distance fifteen strides out and I was thinking to myself 'You can't see a distance that far away,' but it all worked out and was a lot of fun," Riley added.
Standing out in the Team USA red show jumping jacket, Riley touched on her choice of outfit saying, "I don't own a shad belly and never have. Even as a junior I didn't own one. I was reading the derby rules for proper attire and it says that if you have ridden for a U.S. team and have a red coat, you are allowed to wear it, so I thought why not? It goes with my grey mare and a blue ribbon!"
Riley looks forward to the future with Cleopatra's Smile and she was very thankful of the opportunity to ride on the Grass Complex at TIEC saying, "I just really appreciate that Tryon has made such a big effort to make the jumper venue special, but also with hunter events too. The footing rode fantastic and we appreciate all of the effort that the management and organization has made into putting these types of classes on."