Tulloch Thrives Under Pressure in Hammersmith Stables Canadian Derby

Langley, BC — It’s commonplace for a hunter derby to be conducted as a two-round competition. It’s rarer for the phases to be contested over two days.

The Hammersmith Stables Canadian Derby was truly an endurance test, and all eyes were on Rodney Tulloch (CAN) and Christine Maclean’s Fleetwood after winning the first phase Friday evening.

They secured the overall title less than 18 hours later, finishing the competition with a winning score of 310 total points from the 3’6″ section. Ashleigh Charity finished second overall with Montega IS (306), followed by Katrina Klimach and Black Pearl (287). The overall champion had the most points across an Open 3’6″ section, as well as a 3’/3’3″ Green and Junior/Amateur section.

“[Fleetwood] is very focused [on his job],” said Tulloch, who rode the 13-year-old Westphalian gelding to another big win in the USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Odlumb Brown BC Open. “I just know that if I don’t mess up, he’s going to try and do the right thing all the time.”

Fleetwood was imported by Maclean six years ago, and the grey has spent much of his career competing in the Low Adult Hunter divisions, with a long-term plan to teach Maclean’s 9-year-old daughter Asia the ropes.

But the gelding, better known as “Marshmallow,” has had plenty more to give when presented with a grander stage. He and Tulloch captured the Canadian Hunter Derby National Champions last year and have repeatedly shined in high-pressure situations.

For Fleetwood, the poise comes naturally—a decoration at the midway point of the course caught some horses by surprise, but Fleetwood didn’t bat an eye—but it’s been more of a learned behavior for Tulloch, thanks to a background in competitive figure skating.

“I never feel pressure,” he said. “I’m very lucky, because I skated before, and I learned that—back in the old days when you had to do compulsory figures—I would fall apart and be a nervous wreck and then have to claw my way up from the bottom after the short program and the long program.

“I did some work with myself, and I realized that [being that nervous] was ridiculous. That is a whole waste of energy and time,” he continued. “[Now I don’t feel pressure], because I’ve had those experiences.”

Hammersmith Stables Canadian Derby
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Phase 1 Score / Phase 2 Score / Total Score

1. Fleetwood / Rodney Tulloch / CAN / Christine Maclean / 108/ 204 / 312
2. Motega IS / Ashleigh Charity / CAN / Rebekah Chouinard / 101 / 205 / 306
3. Black Pearl / Katrina Klimach / CAN / Katrina Klimach / 97 / 190 / 287
4. Newsprint RW / Rodney Tulloch / CAN / Stephanie Clark / 98 / 185 / 283
5. Oxo van de Bien / Allison Lagan / CAN / Signe Dixon / 99 / 184 / 283
6. Carrington / Katya Rempel / CAN / Katya Rempel / 81.5 / 199.5 / 281
7. Hamilton / Brianne Hujber / CAN / Brianne Hujber / 90 / 189 / 279
8. Carusti / Isabella Thibault / USA / Isabella Thibault / 86 / 118 / 274
9. Light My Fire / Ashley Arnoldt / CAN / Jennifer Arnoldt / 103 / 170 / 273
10. Silver Lining / Chelsea McNeil / CAN / Cindy Ferrie / 193 / 179 / 272