Langley, BC – Youth prevailed in the Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) Canadian Hunter Derby Open 3’6″ Saturday afternoon at Thunderbird Show Park’s April Season Opener, with 10th grader Sloane Betker besting a group of professionals aboard her longtime partner, Kensington.
Held in a one-round format, the Canadian Hunter Derby is judged as a handy class. Judges award a base score for the round; then a High Performance Bonus and Handy Bonus—each up to 10 points—are added to that number to comprise the final score for the round.
Betker and Kensington finished on a winning total of 100 points. Ashley Arnoldt rode Light My Fire to runner-up honors (98 points), with Chloe Mache and St Martin’s Lane third (91).
“It was a really fun course today. It flowed really well,” Betker said.
Betker, who trains with Eliza Hunt, added Kensington to her string more than three years ago. At the time, the chestnut was competing in the jumper ring but made a quick transition to his new division.
“He did the 6-year-old [young] jumpers then,” Betker said. “He didn’t really like going fast!”
Kensington’s demeanor has come to be his greatest strength. Taking everything in stride, he has come to be a most reliable and consistent partner for his young rider, and together, they have moved up from 2’9″ to the 3’6″ divisions.
“He stays super relaxed and chill,” Betker said. “It’s nice to get on and know he’s always going to be the same. He’s brave and always going to go to the other side.”
From Kelowna, BC, Betker has been competing at Thunderbird Show Park for more than a decade. This year, she hopes to venture out to the USEF Junior Hunter National Championships.
“It’s really nice to know that there’s a venue like this so close to home,” she said. “I’ve been coming here since I was five. They do a really good job managing it and growing it.”
$3,000 DIHP Canadian Hunter Derby Open 3’6″
Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Score
- Kensington / Sloane Betker / CAN / Sloane Betker / 100
- Light My Fire / Ashley Arnoldt / CAN / Jennifer Arnoldt / 98
- St Martin’s Lane / Chloe Mache / CAN / Chloe Mache / 91
- Fanta / Chloe Mache / CAN / Chloe Mache / 89
- Casalito’s Boy / Kalima Ngobi / CAN / Kalima Ngobi / 78
- Piano Man / Channay Lloyd / CAN / Brooklyn Jakubec / 77
- Ecifee / Gillian Bilbrough / CAN / Gillian Bilbrough / 45