Jef Lauwers and Hallpass Conclude Pin Oak Charity Horse Show with Victory in $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby

April 13, 2024 – Katy, TX – Jef Lauwers and Hallpass ended the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show the same way that they started it: with a USHJA International Hunter Derby victory.

After having earned the win in the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by Augusta Pines Farm, during Pin Oak Week I, Lauwers and Hallpass returned to also take home the top spot in Friday’s Week III $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by Memorial Park Hunters.

This time, the competition moved indoors under the lights of the Main Ring at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, TX, where 30 entries took on the first-round course designed by Meghan Rawlins.

As the 13th pair in the order, Lauwers and Hallpass shot straight to the top of the leaderboard with scores from the two judging panels of 86 and 87 – plus four high-option bonus points added to each score – for a first-round total score of 181.

Jef Lauwers and Hallpass were presented as the winners of the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by Memorial Park Hunters. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Coming the closest to Hallpass’ score in the first round was Ivy League, owned and ridden by Jennifer Alfano. Alfano and the 7-year-old Warmblood gelding earned scores of 83 and 85, plus two high-option bonus points, for a first-round score of 172. Sitting in third place at the end of the first round, with a score of 167, were Alwaleed Alrashid and Versailles, owned by Lyla Brady. 

With the top 12 returning in reverse order of their standings for the handy round, the top three spots ultimately remained completely unchanged. With Versailles, Alrashid earned scores of 81 and 87, plus three high-option bonus points, for a second-round score of 174 and an overall third-place total of 346.

Alfano and Ivy League also earned a second-round score of 174, giving them a total score of 346 and cementing their second-place finish. 

As the last to return, Lauwers and Hallpass only further lengthened their lead. Scores of 87 and 88, plus all four high-option bonus points, gave them a second-round score of 183 and the win with an overall score of 364.

“[Hallpass] is my knight in shining armor,” said Lauwers of the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding, owned by Sue Copeland. “He just comes out, and he starts jumping. He jumps better and better and better. He’s a great derby horse. That’s why we have him here.”

Second place went to Jennifer Alfano and Ivy League. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

When not in the show ring with Lauwers, Hallpass can be found at home with Copeland, who keeps the horse fit on the flat and over smaller jumps before turning him over to Lauwers for derby classes.

“He doesn’t really travel with me,” explaind Lauwers. “He stays here, and he loves Texas. He loves his mom. She rides him every day, and then I get to ride him here at Pin Oak. It’s been really cool to have a horse like that that just comes out and steps up and does his job.”

Lauwers continued, “I love it here [at Pin Oak] because it feels like it’s one big family. I think the Texas people really stick together. We all come together, and we have different stories to share [from the winter spent on different circuits]. It feels like a community to come back to. It’s nice to have a hometown show where we all have fun. The ambiance is great, so it’s just fun to be here.”

Following a successful three weeks at the 78th annual Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, Lauwers will now spend a few weeks at home in Magnolia, TX, with PJP Farm before setting his sights on his summer goals.

“I think I’m going to try to take [Hallpass] to Derby Finals this year,” said Lauwers. “He’ll probably come and meet me up north maybe [at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival in Traverse City, MI]. We’ll warm him up there, and then we’ll get ready for Derby Finals. It’s fun to have a horse like that that you know and that you can count on. He just always is the same. He comes out super. At the beginning of the week, he comes out like, ‘Ugh, you’re not my mom! Why are you kicking me!’ But then he loosens up and his jumping great. It’s like autopilot; you can just cruise over big jumps.”

C’est La Vie, ridden by Emma Rupinski, was presented with the Paula Sparks Perpetual Trophy as the Best Turned Out Derby Horse. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Also recognized during the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby was this year’s Best Turned Out Derby Horse award recipient, C’est La Vie, ridden by Emma Rupinski. For the honor, C’est La Vie’s team was presented with the Paula Sparks Perpetual Trophy. 

To view full results of the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, click here