Augusta Iwasaki Takes Top Titles in $5,000 Traverse City Derby, presented by Sidelines

Traverse City, Mich. – Aug. 8, 2021 – The conclusion to hunter competition during Week V of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, took the form of the $5,000 Traverse City Derby, presented by Sidelines. A total of 39 of some of the nation’s leading hunter horses and athletes took to the Polk Family Main Hunter Ring for their shot at the top honors as well as a shot at earning the Platinum Performance Hunter Horse of the Week title. In the end, it was Augusta Iwasaki who dominated the competition, emerging at the forefront of the victory gallop with Ava Peck’s Ever So Often to close out the week on a high note.

Augusta Iwasaki and Ever So Often. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Joseph Carnicom designed a 11-obstacle first round track fit for the talent of the class’s entries. Kelsey Epperson and Augusta Iwasaki had the clear advantage at taking home the top prize with multiple entries in the order-of-go, and at the conclusion of the first round they both dominated the competition by taking over the first six spots on the leaderboard. Epperson took the leading spot after earning a score of 91 aboard LTJ & Company’s Tulio, with Iwasaki hot on her heels after receiving a score of 90 riding Ever So Often.

Kelsey Epperson and Tulio. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

The handy round offered 8-obstacles, including a trot fence as well as two high-option fences for a chance at nabbing bonus points. With the top contenders separated by just a few points, the win was anyone’s for the taking. Improving upon their score from the first round, Iwasaki and her trusty High Performance mount Small Kingdom, owned by Iwasaki & Reilly, put down a solid handy round as the fifth pair in the arena. Iwasaki showcased the seven-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare’s ability to navigate smooth inside turns and keep a consistent pace throughout the entire course, earning her a score of 92 to set herself in the lead with a two-round total of 179. The duo would remain in the top spot on the leaderboard for the majority of the second round.

Augusta Iwasaki and Small Kingdom. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Attempting to duplicate her lead from the first round, Epperson and Tulio were the second-to-last pair to try their hand at Carnicom’s handy track. Though they gave a valiant effort and navigated the track with finesse in the hopes of earning another high score, they settled on a score of 87.5 for a two-round total of 178.5 that would put them in the second place position. As the final contender to enter the arena, Iwasaki knew she was merely riding against herself as a victory was already in sight.

Taking the highest score of the day with Ever So Often, Iwasaki slipped into the top spot after earning a handy score of 96 to finish in first place with a two-round total of 186. In the end, Iwasaki would take home the majority of the prize money, claiming second place with Small Kingdom as well as fourth place with Rolo, owned by Ariya Nathu, and fifth place riding Ashland Farms’ Attendu De Lannoise Z. Epperson ultimately finished out the class in third place with Tulio. Topping off the afternoon of awards, Ever so Often also earned the Platinum Performance Hunter Horse of the Week honors.

Augusta Iwasaki with Ever So Often and Small Kingdom. Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Though Iwasaki has only ridden Ever So Often a few times, she spoke highly of the mare’s brain at such a young age. With all of her top hunter mounts prepped, Iwasaki looks forward to heading to the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships in Lexington, Kentucky in just a few days, followed by returning to Traverse City, Michigan for the Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals in the fall to compete for the $275k in prize money up for grabs.

Competition at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival will kick-off Week VI Tuesday, August 10, jam-packed with exciting competition including the FEI North American Youth Championships for show jumping and dressage, as well as CSI3* show jumping competition and a Traverse City Derby.


Augusta Iwasaki – $5,000 Traverse City Derby, presented by Sidelines, winner
On competing with multiple horses:
“I think it’s a really great experience to be able to ride so many different horses in these kinds of classes and really figure out how to ride each one according to that horse.”

On Ever So Often:
“I’ve ridden Ever So Often a few times. I showed her for the first time back home and I rode her in a national derby there and I think we were second. She’s really awesome. She’s one of my mom’s [Liz Reilly’s] client’s horses [Ava Peck] and she’s a really incredible horse. She’s young and just has the best brain.”

On Small Kingdom:
“He is my longtime partner. I’ve had him for three or four years now. I usually do him in bigger derbies but we are starting to get in the groove for [the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship] so we figured it would be good to get him in the ring and jump a few classes.”

On Rolo:
“Rolo is another horse that belongs to a client of my mom, Ariya Nathu. I’ve been riding Rolo for a while now too, and I also do him more in the international derbies. He is also getting ready for [the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships].”

On the hand course:
“I really liked the handy course. Handy courses are always my favorite. I really try to be as tidy as I can, and I think that is really great practice for every ring. My strategy was just to be as tidy as I can with it also being smooth.”

On Traverse City Horse Shows:
“This is one of my favorite shows. We came for the first time last summer and we just had the best time. I love showing here. We’ve been doing a lot of derbies to get everyone ready for the [Traverse City Hunter and Derby Finals] in the fall and I know my mom and I are really excited to come back and show here.”


$5,000 Traverse City Derby, presented by Sidelines:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Ever So Often / Augusta Iwasaki / Ava Peck / 90 / 96 | 186
2. Small Kingdom / Augusta Iwasaki / Iwasaki & Reilly / 87.25 / 92 | 179.25
3. Tulio / Kelsey Epperson / LTJ & Company LLC / 91 / 87.5 / 178.5
4 Rolo / Augusta Iwasaki / Ariya Nathu / 89 / 89 | 178
5. Attendu De Lannoise Z / Augusta Iwasaki / Ashland Farms / 87 / 88.5 | 175.5
6. Didgereedoo VDL / Kelsey Epperson / Lashier Properties LLC / 88 / 86 | 174
7. Fusion / Kelsey Epperson / Lashier Properties LLC / 83.5 / 89.5 | 173
8. Frankly Stated / Hallie Grimes / Can We Keep It? LLC / 86 / 86.5 | 172.5
9. Please The Crowd / Augusta Iwasaki / Alexander Miller / 84 / 88 | 172
10. Bon Ami / Tiffany Morrissey / AM Sport Horses South Inc. / 86.75 / 84.5 | 171.25
11. Charisma / Hayley Iannotti / Carriage Hill Farms / 82 / 84 | 166
12. Caruso / Grace McReynolds / Grace McReynolds / 82.5 / 49 | 131.5