Roger Turner Pilots Aviator to Top Honors in the $2,000 Traverse City Derby

Traverse City, Mich. – June 20, 2021 – Hunter competition during the second week of the Traverse City Spring Horse Show concluded in the Polk Family Ring with the highly anticipated $2,000 Traverse City Derby. A competitive group of riders took their turn at the 11-obstacle course, where they had the chance to vie for top honors. Roger Turner bested the field of derby riders aboard Aviator with a combined score of 179.5, which would help the pair take the top prize. Tiffany Morrissey rounded out the top three with her two mounts, Eastwood who secured a combined score of 174, and Bon Ami, who received a total score of 169.5.

Roger Turner and Aviator, Photo courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography

Tom Carlson laid out a beautiful first-round course where derby riders had the opportunity to choose several different high or low options and encouraged competitors to keep their horses on an open canter. While some horse and rider combinations found issues with the single oxers coming up quickly off the corners, Turner and Aviator stepped up to the plate and laid down a beautiful first round impressing the judges. Twelve horse and rider pairs came back for the handy round where they had the opportunity to show off their handiness over a nine-obstacle course, which consisted of several short turns to the oxers on the rail and concluded with a trot jump to a long approach to the two stride.

Roger Turner and Aviator, Photo courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography

Turner and Aviator, an 11-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Denise Short, impressed the judges in round one with their fluidity, consistency, and beautiful form over each fence, which helped them secure a 91 and would allow them to lead the way into round two. The pair are no strangers to the winner’s circle, winning the Brownland Farm Derby Finals and several other National Hunter Derbies at some of the top venues on the east coast. This longtime partnership impressed the judges with their ample pace, consistency, and picture-perfect form to each jump. Turner spoke highly of Aviator and looks forward to many more wins in the National Hunter Derby classes.

Tiffany Morrissey and Eastwood, Photo courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography

Morrissey caught the judge’s eyes with Eastwood, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Fallen Oak Farm LLC, delivering rounds that displayed the horse’s scope, eager expression, and a big stride, helping them secure a first-round score of 86. This dynamic pair impressed the judges in the second round with the handiness and consistency they showcased, earning the pair a second-round score of 88, only four total points behind Turner’s combined score.

Tiffany Morrissey and Bon Ami

Morrissey rounded out the top three with Bon Ami, the 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by AM Sport Horses South Inc., delivered a beautiful first round garnering a score of 82.5, placing them in third place going into the handy round. Most recently, Bon Ami has consistently earned top placings in the Adult Amateur Hunter division at the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival. The talented young horse continued to impress the judges in the handy round with his expressive jump and massive stride, where the duo earned a score of 87, sealing their third-place position.

Riders who have enrolled in the new Hunter Incentive Program have already begun their three-week qualifying period to be in contention for Hunter Derby Finals. Hunter Derby Finals will run concurrently with the 51st Anniversary of the American Gold Cup held during Traverse City Fall Horse Show III. The new incentive program has been put in place to highlight hunter athletes and their horses. Over $275K in guaranteed prize money is on the table, and horses who are not enrolled in the program are still eligible to compete for the prize money as long as they have competed for three weeks during the Traverse City Horse Shows.

Hunter competition will continue on Wednesday at 8 am to round out the third week of competition at the Traverse City Spring series with the COTH High-Performance Model and will end the day with the Performance Hunter 3’3” division.


On partnership with Aviator:
“I have had Aviator for about three years now. I got him for Denise Short, she shows him in the Low 2’6” Adults when she is up for it. She is taking her time getting going on this horse. I have done him in several National Hunter Derby’s.”

On Aviator’s strengths:
“Temperament is the most important thing to me. He is the biggest pleaser I have ever had and I love a horse that feels bad when you scold them and I honestly don’t know what he would do if he thought he was bad. He really tries to do his best every time.”

On handy round:
“I really liked everything about it. I really thought everything kind of went as planned. He rubbed one slightly, but if that is the worst thing that happens to me today, it is a great day.”

On Traverse City:
“I was born in Michigan and I have been a professional trainer in this area my whole life. I don’t show in Michigan as much, but I really love coming up here in the spring and fall. Last year we came for the American Gold Cup and had a great time. It is a great horse show and the facility is incredible.”


$2,000 Traverse City Derby
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Aviator / Roger Turner / Denise Short / 91 / 88.5 | 179.5
2. Eastwood / Tiffany Morrissey / Fallen Oak Farm LLC / 86 / 88 | 174
3. Bon Ami / Tiffany Morrissey / AM Sport Horses South Inc. / 82.5 / 87 | 169.5
4. Rainier / Kyra Russell / Aquitaine Equine / 80.5 / 87 | 167.5
5. Take Two / Aly Muir / Aly Muir / 81 / 82 | 163
6. RF KrossFire / Tiffany Morrissey / Vinissa Blann / 83 / 79 | 162
7. Loon Lake / Jenney Aselage / Susan S. Aselage / 82 / 78 | 160
8. Get Rowdy / Kyra Russell / Teton Farms LLC / 77 / 81 | 158
10. Coastline / Karen Howey / Karen Howey / 69 / 75 | 144
11. Hide Away / Emily Anderson / Emily Anderson / 75 / 66 | 141
12. Remarkable Lass / Vivian Jlao / Grace Scheffler / 66 / 71 | 137