It's impressive to jump around to scores in the 90s in the $289,730 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, but Liza Boyd not only did that once, but twice. Aboard Clemens and Tradition, Liza mastered the Classic and Handy Round courses August 16-17 to claim $56,578, the most prize money earned by any rider in the Championship at the Kentucky Horse Park.
“I was so proud of both of my horses,” said Liza, who earned $32,009 with Clemens and $24,569 with Tradition. “They’re both 3’9” Green horses, and they stepped up to the plate."
In the end, Liza finished behind defending champion Tori Colvin aboard Brad Wolf's Private Practice.
But when Liza, the only three-time Championship winner (aboard Brunello), entered the ring for the Handy Hunter round aboard the first of her two entries, Clemens, owned by Finally Farm and Westerly Farm, she knew she had to be at the top of her game to claim a substantial check.
One of the challenges on the Handy course was the in-and-out, vertical-to-vertical option was one weighing on many riders' minds.
"I had enough things to stress about, so I just let Jack [Towell] tell me what to do [on that one]," said Liza. "He had helped Daisy Farish earlier in the Derby Challenge. They had something similar. However, he had a big long speech about how it worked out for Daisy, so I just listened to what he said and didn't stress. So thank you, Jack."
She went on to earn base scores of 91, 92 and 89 with 29 bonus points with Clemens.
Then, she returned to the ring on Maggie Hill's Tradition and delivered another solid round, earning 27 bonus points and base scores of 87.75, 91 and 90 for a two-day total of 584.25 and a third-placed finish overall.
“I would definitely like to thank my blacksmith, Ian Currey, and Scott Pool, my home blacksmith,” said Liza, “because Clemens pulled not one, but two shoes in the schooling area before the class—one at one end of the ring and one at the other before the round.
“I said, ‘Let’s just go barefoot! He’s telling me something. He’s trying to tell me he doesn’t want shoes anymore.’ I jumped four jumps, and my vet, Diane Schiereck, was out there: ‘Put the shoes on!’ So it was a good comic relief for me. And I’d like to thank Ann Misenheimer and Tom Hill, the owners of my horses,” Liza added.
Liza was particularly pleased with Tradition, who had competed in just one derby at Blowing Rock [North Carolina] before contesting the Derby Championship. "We did the premium entry option so he could compete here. He impressed me so much tonight,” she said.
Ann Misenheimer, of Unionville, Pennsylvania, partnered with the Towells to purchase Clemens in the spring of 2017. Last year, she watched Clemens compete in the Derby Challenge, and this year she was on hand to escort the 8-year-old Oldenburg (Clemence—Diana) into the ring for the Championship awards.
“He’s come along so quickly, and I have to say I have nothing to do with it. I just get to come and applaud!” said Misenheimer. “I’m so lucky to be able to be an owner. We had been looking for a derby horse for a long time, and we were lucky enough to find him. They knew he was the horse for the job, but things happen over time, and so to be here tonight … I give them all the credit and their staff. And it was so wonderful to win the Shapley’s Best Turned Out Award.
“Also, coming in second to my friend Brad Wolf was really fun,” noted Misenheimer, who used to compete against Wolf in the Amateur-Owners. “We had dinner last night together. I think that really made it extra special.”
Since 2008, the USHJA International Hunter Derby Program has paid out more than $12.3 million. This year 279 horses were enrolled in the program from more than 32 states and Canada.
Clemens and Boyd were presented with this year's Shapley's Best Turned Out Award. Sally Stith-Burdette was on hand to present groom Alberto Ramirez with a Shapley's Awards Package.
Liza also rode Bridget Hallman's Halston to impressive performances in the 3'/3'3" Green Hunter Incentive Championship, including 16th in Round 1 and 19th in the Championship Round for earnings of $1,486.
Tradition also placed fifth in the 3'6"/3'9" Green Hunter Incentive Championship Round, while Clemens finished 11th.