John French and Rumba Take Early Lead of the ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals ____________________________________________

On the first day of competition at the ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals presented by Dietrich Insurance, 56 horses and riders put it all on the line for their chance at the coveted Derby Finals Champion title. The top 25 horses from this morning’s round are invited to Saturday evening’s round two classic course and were given $1,000. The top 12 horses from round two will compete for over all derby final’s champion honors and a share of the $100,000 prize money.

Ramba
Photo Credit: Hunter Messineo

This morning’s classic hunter round designed by Bobby Murphy and Patrick Rodes featured 12 obstacles with three option jumps. Early in the draw, the sixth horse and rider on course, Curtain Call and Courtney Calcagnini, set the top score of 345. The pair held the top spot until John French’s brilliant performance on Mountain Home Stables’ Rumba took over with a score of 367. French and the 9-year-old gelding held the lead for the rest of the class.

“He is very adjustable and is happy to have courses that ask more of his scope, range and handiness,” French says of Rumba’s ability to handle the derby courses. The grey gelding came into the final’s competition with two back to back wins at this year’s derbies at HITS Thermal.

Maggie Jayne and Pony Lane Farm’s Early Applause hold the number two position heading into tomorrow’s round two, while Jessica Springsteen and Stone Hill Farm’s Tiziano are currently in third place. To view a complete list of the top 25 horses, visit the USHJA website.

Today’s classic round was streamed live on Equestrian Life at www.equestrianlife.com/derby. Deana Bergquist, Co-founder and President of Equestrian Life, reported that the site received 10,000 hits during its coverage of this morning’s qualifying round. Tomorrow evening, live coverage will resume at 6:00 p.m. for the opening ceremonies, with the first horse expected to be on course at 6:30 p.m. The third and final round of the competition is estimated to start at 8:30 p.m. If you missed this morning’s qualifying round, you can view full coverage of the class on the Equestrian Life website.

Chris Stafford, Equestrian Life’s expert journalist, expressed the company’s excitement for sharing the inaugural derby finals with the public. “We’re very excited to partner with the United States Hunter Jumper Association in bringing coverage of the derby finals to a worldwide audience,” Stafford commented at the rider’s meeting held Thursday evening at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Visitor’s Center.
Stay up to date on all of the latest ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals news on USHJA’s Twitter page http://twitter.com/ushja as well as www.USHJA.org/Derby where you will be able to find the latest information and follow our Derby Blog.

The 2009 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals is supported by the following sponsors: ASG Software Solution – Title Sponsor; Dietrich Insurance-Presenting Sponsor; Charles Owen & Co.-Major Sponsor; Dover Saddlery-Major Sponsor; Essex Classics-Award Sponsor; The Clothes Horse-Award Sponsor; Grand Prix – Award Sponsor; Personalized Products – Award Sponsor; McGuinn Farms – Award Sponsor.

ENDS

For more information, please contact Whitney Allen, Director of Marketing and Communications at wallen@ushja.org or 859.225.6967.

Contact us: P: 859.225.2055, F: 859.258.9033, Website:  www.ushja.org

USHJA is located at 4047 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511.

Mission Statement:
The USHJA is committed to advancing and representing the hunter and jumper disciplines by fostering an educated community of equestrians that promotes the welfare of the horse and fairness in competition.