Jennifer Ritucci of Wrentham, MA, won the $5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Eastern Hay, on Thursday, August 2, at the 25th annual, six-week Vermont Summer Festival, which continues through August 12 at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Twenty-nine entries contested the first-round course set by Tom Hern, and following the conclusion of the opening round, Ritucci and her mount Quidam’s Reveal, owned by Shadow Creek NY LLC, sat in fourth place with a score of 84. A second-round high score of 88, however, would catapult the pair to the top of the leaderboard with a total score of 172.
Kristen Bumpus of Concord, MA, rode Carington, owned by Cassie Gerrity, to scores of 83 and 87 to finish second on a total score of 170. Rounding out the top three with scores of 86 and 83 for a 169 total were Melissa Deryn Foster and Aubergine, owned by Lindsey Phipps. Foster’s third-place finish also made her the top-placing junior rider. The top amateur honor went to Rindy Dominguez of Barrington, RI, who finished in eighth riding her own MTM Casablanca.
For Ritucci, the win carried special significance, as she rode in honor of Vanessa Lencewicz, the road manager whom she previously worked alongside at Grazing Fields Farm. Lencewicz sadly passed away unexpectedly on July 28.
“Vanessa always went to the derby ring with Jen and was always supporting her,” said Ritucci's husband, D.J. Volandre, as Ritucci fought back tears.
“I asked her for her help before the second round,” added Ritucci. “I really think she helped me.”
The memorable victory for Ritucci and Quidam’s Reveal marked Ritucci’s third hunter derby aboard the nine-year-old bay Selle Francais gelding, also ridden in the Children’s Hunters by Ava and Sophia Carbone.
“He’s new to the family, and he’s just awesome,” said Ritucci. “He’s got a lot of swagger. He’s very cocky, which makes him awesome at his job. He’s just really fun in the barn.”
Week five of the Vermont Summer Festival marks Ritucci’s third week competing at the show this year, and it’s always a highlight for all of the riders at Saddle Rowe.
“We’ve been coming here since we were kids,” said Ritucci, 36. “We love it; all of our customers love it. We’re looking forward to coming back for sure. The in-gate people are awesome; the office people are awesome. I think they’ve done a really great job improving all of the footing and maintaining the rings. We have a lot of horses here, and everybody’s been really accommodating to us. It’s done at a reasonable hour. It’s a beautiful town. The restaurants are great; the people are great; it’s fun!”
Competition continues at the Vermont Summer Festival with the $30,000 Manchester & the Mountains Grand Prix, presented by Purina Horse Feed, beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday, August 4.
The Vermont Summer Festival is New England’s largest hunter/jumper competition and the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont with more than $750,000 in prize money. The event is also a proud member of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). Outside the show ring, exhibitors are immersed in the charm of Vermont's shopping, dining, and outdoor activities.
Competition at the 2018 Vermont Summer Festival runs weekly from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning each day at 8 a.m. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children from Wednesday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, admission is $9 for adults and $5 for children with 100% of all gate proceeds benefiting The Dorset School, Manchester Community Library, and the Rotary Club of Manchester.
For more information on the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail or visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.
$5,000 NEHJA Hunter Derby, presented by Eastern Hay
Thursday, August 2, 2018
Rider Hometown Horse Scores
Jennifer Ritucci Wrentham, MA Quidam’s Reveal 84/88=172
Kristen Bumpus Concord, MA Carington 83/87=170
Melissa Deryn Foster Caledon, ON Aubergine 86/83=169
Heather Hays North Salem, NY Stellar 85/82=167
Kristen Bumpus Concord, MA Trendsetter 80/86=166
Melissa Deryn Foster Caledon, ON Cascada 83.5/81=164.5
Shane Powell Sterling, MA Soltiste 80.5/82.5=163
Rindy Dominguez Barrington, RI MTM Casablanca 81/78=159
Alexandra Sharp Barrington, RI Cornando 81.5/70=151.5
Christian Dominguez Barrington, RI Renaissance Man 78/66=144
Shachine Belle Farmington, CT Tignanello 88/55=143
Linda Orton Stamford, VT Demi 82/0=82