By The Classic Company, Ltd. for The Island Connection
Proving once again that he is always a contender, Michael Leon piloted the game Transparency to victory in the $5,000 Classic Hunter Derby during Week I of the Charleston Summer Classic.
Leon, a California transplant who now calls Marietta, Georgia home, piloted Kelly Sims’ Transparency across the two rounds of competition.
Twenty-five entries turned up at the derby ring at the Mullet Hall Equestrian Center, on Johns Island. Of those, only the top 12 were invited back to the ring for the challenging handy hunter round. Both courses were designed by Allen Rheinheimer.
Leon and Transparency topped the ranks in both rounds. The duo achieved a classic round score of 88 points, as well as a handy score of 86 points. They ended the competition with a grand tally of 174 points — 4 points ahead of the runner up.
“Transparency put in two great trips,” Leon said. “I was a little unsure of how he would respond to the sponsor tent along that ring but, if anything, it made him brighter. He’s such a ham. The more attention he gets, the more he likes to show off.
“And these courses were built to show off your horse.
There were a lot of bending lines and single fences to really showcase a gallop stride.”
Transparency is a new ride for Leon, only having been paired up in March.
Leon described the eight-year-old hunter as a sensitive and delicate ride, which he said can be challenging in a handy round.
“Once you adjust your ride to his sensitivities, it’s beautiful,” he said. “You can’t squeeze him into a gallop too hard, or to turn too quickly. He doesn’t like those unexpected shifts. But when he goes into the ring, he puffs up and shows off.”
This year marks Leon’s first trip to Charleston. Since moving to the Atlanta area in June 2017, Leon and Sims have been checking out different horse show venues. So far, the Charleston Summer Classic has impressed.
“It’s almost like a vacation — the beach is nearby and the horse show wraps up early enough in the day to go into town or visit the beach,” Leon said.
“Plus, (Classic Company) knows how to put on a horse show. Bob (Bell) pays so much attention to the show, the exhibitors, the spectators, and the feedback he’s provided.”
Ranking second was Verona, Virginia’s Jason Berry, who was in the saddle of BOA Partners LLC’sPrivate I. The pair achieved a first round score of 86, followed by a score of 84 in the handy round. They finished with an overall total of 170 points.
Third place was awarded to Emily Hertz Chadwell, of Charleston, South Carolina. Riding Kate Richardson’s Corby, Hertz Chadwell piloted her way to a classic round of 84 points, followed by a handy score of 78.5 points, for an overall score of 162.5 points.
Leon found himself back in the ribbons, laying claim to fourth place for his performance aboard Kelly Sims’ True Enough. A score of 81 in both the classic round and the handy round, accrued Leon an overall tally of 162 points.
Christina Fox, of Aiken, South Carolina, ranked fifth for her ride aboard Southland Stables LLC’s End Game. Fox piloted to a first round score of 79, as well as a handy score of 82 points, totaling 161 points. Fox also went home with an extra $500 in her pocket, after winning the $500 Classic Derby High Non-Pro Bonus.
An overall score of 155 points earned a sixth place ribbon for Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina’s Derek Holt, who was riding Charles Hairfield’s Savannah. Holt was also awarded the $500 Classic Derby Low Non-Pro Bonus for his efforts.
Seventh place was awarded to Annie Walters, of Isle of Palms, South Carolina, who achieved a total tally of 154 points. She was in the irons of her own Vicomte. Josie Baird, of Savannah, Georgia, ranked eighth for her round with CDS Stables’ Antebellum. The pair earned a grand total of 153.5 points, as well as the $300 Classic Derby High Non-Pro Bonus.
Mary Helen Earp, of Wilmington, North Carolina, placed ninth for her two round total of 145 points.
She was aboard her own Brunswick. Earp also earned the $200 Classic Derby High Non-Pro Bonus.
Tenth place was awarded to Charles Hairfield, of Johns Island, South Carolina, who racked up 135 points with his own Sentosa. Leon ranked eleventh for his 127 point round aboard Kelly Sims’ Eleventh Hour. Rounding out the Top 12 placings was Jamie Rardin, of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, who earned 77 points with her own Quinby I.
Isabella Griffin, of Hampton Cove, Alabama, earned the $300 Classic Derby Low Non-Pro Bonus for her performance aboard Donald Stewart’s Cold Case. The $200 Classic Derby Low Non-Pro Bonus was awarded to Lucy Thornhill, of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, for her ride with her own Winter Romance.
More details from Week I of the Charleston Summer Classic, including a complete list of the results from the Classic Derby can be found online.