Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort (TIEC) hosted its second $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby of the season during the Tryon Summer 4/Tryon Riding & Hunt Club Charity II Horse Show, with top honors earned by Harold Chopping (CAN) and Catchphrase, who combined for a two-round total score of 384. Havens Schatt (USA) and Cascartini, the Holsteiner gelding owned by Ken and Amy Wexler LLC, were named to reserve after their two-round score of 378. Finishing on a score of 374, Dorothy Douglas (USA) and MTM Lolah LOL, the 2013 Westphalian mare (Los Angeles x Palma) owned by Abigail Davenport, took home third-place honors.

Chopping and the 2010 Zangersheide gelding (Marome NW x Prelude) owned by Barbara Scott were leading on a score of 181 after the classic round, and navigated the Andres Christiansen (USA) course design with a past loss in mind to maintain their lead, Chopping revealed.

“Years ago, I remember I was leading by quite a bit going into the handy round on a horse that I really trusted – he was really a winner – and I was a bit conservative and I ended up second. I cannot forget riding around in the ring that night, because it drives me crazy that I didn’t just walk in there and try and win both rounds,” he explained. “So, my strategy this time was to just be aggressive and try and put in a good score.”

Luckily for Chopping, Catchphrase is a proven derby horse and “ultra-reliable” ride, he described of his mount of several years. “I don’t get to ride him too many times a year, because the owners and their trainers are up in New Jersey and our show schedules only match up occasionally, but I have him all winter and this was the first time since Ocala there was a big derby.”

Catchphrase has been due for a win after numerous top finishes, Chopping continued. “He was third the last time I rode him; this was the first time he’s won! He’s had a lot of seconds, thirds, and fourths, and tons of good, two-round performances, but this is the first one he’s won. I’m thrilled for him because he always does such a good job, and he deserves it!”

A frequent competitor throughout the calendar year at TIEC, Chopping finds the level of competition offered and easy commute – plus the convenience of the property – worth returning for weeks at a time. “We really enjoy it here. Next week, I’ll have a horse in the FEI, and then there’s these big derbies, so if you have a hunter to ride, you can really do it at the highest level,” he shared. “I have to say, it’s an easy place to work, because the barns are nice. I just drive my golf cart home to the camper area at night. It’s a nice place to be. We’re here for three weeks this time. It’s a fun place to be.”

Though glad he avoided letting the win slip from his fingers this time, Chopping emphasized that riding a horse as reliable as Catchphrase is less about the scores received and more about the feeling of producing two solid rounds:

“It’s really a lot of fun riding that horse, because it’s so nice when you have one that is reliable. You just know you can do whatever you feel like you have to do. You never know how the others are going to go or how scoring will end up. You’re thrilled if your horse goes well and both rounds are solid. You can’t ask for more than that,” he concluded. “I was lucky today that I ended up on top!”

Full results here.