Alfano and Jersey Boy Claim Victory In USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals
August 18, 2012
Lexington, KY - The fourth annual $115,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals tonight featured many top performances from among the country’s best show hunters, but it was Jersey Boy and Jennifer Alfano who were best of all.
Jersey Boy’s victory was especially sweet because after contesting the Derby Finals each of the past four years and winning the overall series title three times, it was the one major Derby accolade remaining for him to win.
“I’m so happy. I feel like Jersey Boy really deserved to win this class,” said Alfano of the 10-year-old warmblood gelding. “He was awesome. Right from the start when I was schooling he just felt perfect.”
Jersey Boy’s incredible Handy Hunter Round earned scores of 92, 91 and 88.5 with bonus points of 9,9 and 8 for an overall total of 588.25.
That quarter of a point became incredibly valuable at the end of the night when Liza Boyd and Brunello stepped into the ring to challenge. Their brilliant performance fell just that much short, scoring 588 for second place overall.
“Jen and I are really close friends, and I respect her so much as a horseman,” said Boyd, of Camden, SC. “If I had to lose to someone, I’m glad it was her.
“I’m really proud of Brunello,” Boyd added of the 14-year-old Hanoverian. “He was just incredible, and I’m so happy to be in the top three.”
Scott Stewart, of Wellington, FL, who held the top spot after yesterday’s Classic Hunter Round with Dedication, couldn’t quite repeat the performance tonight under the lights and retired on course with the 7-year-old. Stewart didn’t go home empty handed, however, as he guided Garfield to a gorgeous Handy Hunter Round that moved him up to third place overall.
Tonight’s competition at the Kentucky Horse Park featured a beautiful Handy Hunter course by acclaimed designer Steve Stephens. The fences and decorations created a feeling of cantering through hunt country, with natural jumps of planks and logs, abundant trees and shrubbery and decorative elements such as wagons and tack room settings and a pond. The fence heights ranged from 3’6 to 4’ and offered riders an opportunity to pick up bonus points by taking any one or all of the four optional fences set from 4’ to 4’3.
The 12-obstacle course featured several areas where riders could show off their handiness with tight turns and rollbacks, a trot fence at 8 with an optional track to fence 9, and for the grand finale riders could choose the safe route with a 3’6” oxer or an impressive higher option set in the center of the arena.
The judges included Rob Bielefeld, Linda Hough, Betty Oare, Patrick Rodes, Geoff Teall and Scott Williamson, who were split into panels of two and placed in strategic positions around the in the Sheila C. Johnson Ring at the Rolex Stadium.
The top-scoring 30 horses from the initial Classic Hunter Round yesterday were invited back to determine the 2012 International Hunter Derby Finals Champion. With six of the country’s best professional hunter riders in the top 10 after the Classic Hunter Round—Scott Stewart, Liza Boyd, Jennifer Alfano, Patricia Griffith, Kelley Farmer and Peter Pletcher (along with junior phenom Victoria Colvin)—it was clear that tonight’s competition would be fierce.
Colvin, 14, of Loxahatchee, FL, didn’t disappoint her fans. She moved up with Inclusive to earn fourth place overall and was the highest-placed junior. Last year’s victor, Lillie Keenan, earned the Junior-Owner award with her sixth-placed performance aboard Monterrey.
If there were an odds-on favorite tonight, it would have been Farmer, of Keswick, VA. The 2011-12 USHJA Derby Series Money Won title holder qualified five of her six mounts for the grand finale, including the series champion horse, Taken. Farmer was the only rider to earn two top-10 placings, taking fifth with Bases Loaded and seventh with Taken.
New this year was the $15,000 Consolation Competition, which featured the 31 highest-scoring horses from the Classic Hunter Round that did not otherwise qualify for the Derby Finals Handy Hunter Round. The class was held at 4 p.m., prior to the Derby Finals Handy Hunter Round, and allowed competitors another shot at one of Stephens’ challenging handy hunter courses.
Erin Bland will now return home to Carlsbad, CA with a championship and a check for $4,500 after claiming victory in the Consolation Competition, generously supported by Moyer Farm, LLC.
Bland returned in the 13th slot and clinched the win with scores of 82, 82 and 84 aboard her lovely gray Weatherly, for a total two-round score of 492.75. Her 9-year-old warmblood also sported an additional tricolor ribbon as Bland was the high-score Amateur.
“I think the Consolation Round is wonderful,” said Bland. “I’d like to thank USHJA for setting this up and also Moyer Farm, Dietrich and Charles Owen for sponsoring this class. Especially for riders coming from California, myself included, that loved to have another opportunity if the first day didn’t go quite as planned. And it’s a long way from California, and this is a great class to try and recoup a little prize money and get back into the ring.”
The 2012 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals is generously sponsored by: Presenting Sponsor: Dietrich Equine Insurance; Official Ulcer Remedy: UlcerGard; Consolation Round Donor: Moyer Farm, LLC.; Official Helmet and Major Sponsor: Charles Owen Inc.; Awards Sponsors: Dover Saddlery, Essex Classics, The Clothes Horse, Grand Prix/Pikeur/Konigs, Ann Hubbards Tack Shop, Ariat, SmartPak, G4 Marketing, Diane Carney and Telluride Farms and McGuinn Farms; Hospitality Sponsor: Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital; Jump Sponsors: EquiFit, inc., Chansonette Farm, Equestrian Sport Productions, Glassy Mountain Farm, The Gochman Family, MacLean Family & The Franktown Meadows Hunter Derby, Queenie Productions, R. Bruce Duchossios & H ‘n D Stables, Inc., SBS Farms Inc. & Helen Lenahan, USHJA High Performance Hunter Committee.
To learn more about Dietrich Equine Insurance’s line of quality products, please visit them at www.dietrich-insurance.com or call 800.942.4258.
For additional information on the 2012 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals, Presented by Dietrich Equine Insurance, please visit www.ushja.org.
Back to News & Media