Amanda Derbyshire and Luibanta BH laid down a blisteringly fast trip as the first pair to compete in the $50,000 GE International Jumper Speed Final on Friday night at the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS). It was a debut of sorts for both Derbyshire (GBR)—who has trained but never ridden at the WIHS before—and her young Irish Sport Horse mare, Luibanta (Luidam x Abantos), owned by David Gochman.
“I’m very proud [of her]. She’s eight years old, she’s never been to a venue like this before,” said Derbyshire. “She’s phased by nothing so far that we’ve ever put her to, so I’m thrilled. She just tries her heart out every time.”
Derbyshire cleared Alan Wade’s (IRL) speed course in a time of 54.72 seconds and held on through 21 rounds for the win. She says after seeing her name first in the class order posted earlier in the afternoon, she had one thought only in mind: giving it all she’s got.
In practice, that meant mostly sticking to her plan, but leaving one, ultimately critical stride out in the last line.
“I thought at the end there they were all going to beat me,” she said, “but thankfully, they didn’t!”
Derbyshire notes that she and McLain Ward (USA), who took second in the class aboard Malou with one rail down, finished first and second in their last Speed class together, with Ward taking the number one spot.
“It’s kind of nice being the other way around for once!” Derbyshire joked, “I’m sure it won’t happen very often, but it was nice tonight.”
Jessica Springsteen (USA) and Stone Hill Farm’s Davendy S also dropped one rail, but made very good time, placing third with 55.19 seconds behind Ward’s adjusted time of 54.87.
Derbyshire has been to WIHS six times in the past while helping with the Gochman Family’s Baxter Hill horses and riders, but this is the first time that she has competed herself. She began showing Luibanta BH at the end of August and this is just their fourth show together. Derbyshire plans to give the mare some time off before heading down to the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida at the end of November.
“This is pretty special. It has been so much fun. It has been tiring—we haven’t had much sleep—but it has been better than I ever expected,” said Derbyshire.
I have watched the competition here for the last few years, the international classes at night, and this year I thought that I would like to do it. This year I got two horses good enough to do it, so I am lucky for that.”