Lexington, Ky.—August 16, 2019—The defending champion and two West Coast riders took the top three spots of the $256,640 Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship after the Classic Hunter Round, which brought 76 horses out to compete in the Rolex Stadium of the Kentucky Horse Park.
Tori Colvin, of Loxahatchee, Florida, went early in the order and secured a significant lead aboard Meralex Farm's El Primero with scores of 89, 91 and 92 for an overall score of 284.
2018 Champion Tori Colvin sits in first place going into Saturday night's Handy Round aboard Meralex Farm's El Primero. Shawn McMillen Photography
"El Primero went in there and marched around," Colvin said of the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood. "I’ve only been riding him since [Winter Equestrian Festival], so not too long. He kind of just marched around like a champion, like he’s done it all his life. He was really good."
Colvin also sits in fourth place with last year's champion, Private Practice, owned by Brad Wolf. She will be competing not only for the championship title tomorrow evening, but also to tie the most Derby Championship wins, a record held by Liza Boyd, who won three championships, all riding Brunello.
Nick Haness, of Temecula, California, riding Lindsey Schiefelbein's Verdict, had a great first-round performance in his debut Derby appearance. Haness earned scores of 91, 90 and 83.5 for an overall score of 276.5. He is the leading Tier II rider in the Championship, which could earn him additional prize money. Haness also had a strong performance yesterday, taking fourth place in the 3'0"/3'3" Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship.
Nick Haness and Verdict, owned by Lindsey Schiefelbein, finished in second in the Classic Hunter Round. Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography
Fellow West Coast rider Jenny Karazissis, of Calabasas, California, rounded out the top three aboard Really, owned by Michelle Cobb, with scores of 88, 85.5 and 85 for an overall score of 270.5.
"I couldn't be happier; I'm really, really pleased," Karazissis said. "You'll find that I say really a lot about Really. He was really good, and I'm just so pleased for the owner. It's a gamble to send them all the way back here, and it paid off so far. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow night because he's super fun to do the Handy on."
Thirty-six horse-and-rider combinations are invited back to compete in the Handy Round tomorrow under the lights in the Rolex Stadium for $256,640 in prize money and $1,500 in bonus prize money sponsored by Ron Danta and Danny Robertshaw. Of those, 21 are Tier II riders who will be competing for $51,328 in prize money in Section B of the Handy. Tier I riders and Tier II riders, such as Haness, who have placed in the top 25 will get an additional chance to earn a portion of the $205,312 of prize money in Section A.
"It's going to be a fun and new element to show at night," Haness said. "This is a magical ring to ride in. It's just unlike anything else—it's really quite special to be in that arena."
Jenny Karazissis piloted Michelle Cobb's Really to a third-place finish in the Classic Hunter Round. Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography
Judging the Championships this week are Tom Brennan, Richard Fancher, Daniel Robertshaw, William Sparks, Geoff Teall and James Toon. Derby courses are designed by Alan Lohman.
The eleventh Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship will culminate tomorrow evening, August 17, under the lights of the Rolex Stadium with the exciting Handy Hunter round.
For the Saturday evening Handy Hunter Round, riders will be grouped into two tiers based on the amount of total money earned over the last three years in International Hunter Derbies as of December 1, 2018. Tier I riders are those ranked 1-40 on the three-year earnings list, and Tier II riders are those ranked below 40th. Horse-and-rider combinations, regardless of tier, placing in the top 25 of the Classic Hunter round will be eligible for 80 percent prize money and compete in Section A of the Handy round. The top 21 Tier II horse-and-rider combinations, including those who qualified for Section A, will be eligible for 20 percent of the prize money; those not in Section A will compete in Section B of the Handy.
Additionally, the overall champion of Section A will receive a Charles Owen Helmet, a pair of FITS Breeches, a belt from Boy O Boy Bridleworks, a cooler from The Clothes Horse, an Essex Classics show shirt, a NIGHTWATCH® halter and one year of service, product from Championship title sponsor Platinum Performance, as well as a medal and a trophy.
The overall Section A champion rider will also receive a CWD saddle, a pair of Parlanti International tall boots, and a $1,000 Rider Bonus provided by Ron Danta and Danny Robertshaw. The winning trainer will receive a Haiku Fan from Big Ass Fans.
The Section B champion rider will receive a $500 Rider Bonus provided by Ron Danta and Danny Robertshaw, FITS riding breeches, an Essex Classics show shirt and a cooler from The Clothes Horse. Prizes will also be given for the Shapley's Best Turned Out Horse Award, Rider Style Award, and to the top placing Junior-owner rider and top placing Amateur-owner rider.
Additionally, the $10,000 Derby Challenge, presented by The Wheeler Family, will be held the afternoon of August 17, allowing riders that did not qualify for either Section A or Section B Handy Round to compete one more time for a substantial amount of prize money.
Colvin and Meralex Farm's El Primero finished on top in the Classic Hunter Round of the Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship. Photo: Tricia Booker/USHJA
Saturday night, August 17, will not only play host to the Handy Hunter round but also USHJA Barn Night. Spectators will have the opportunity to watch the top hunter riders in the country compete for the International Hunter Derby Championship title, as well as a chance to win exciting prizes. The barn with the most spectators in attendance will win. Spectators should stop by the USHJA Booth located on the concourse level of the Rolex Stadium beginning at 6 p.m. to enter.
Wall-to-Wall Live Streaming Coverage Online
EQSportsNet, official broadcaster of the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA Hunter Week, will provide wall-to-wall live streaming coverage and on demand access to every round of the Championship. Coverage includes expert commentary from three-time International Hunter Derby Champion Liza Boyd, Sandy Ferrell and Bill Schaub, course visualization and live scoring.
USHJA Members can access all of EQSportsNet’s content including this year’s Platinum Performance/USHJA Hunter Week coverage at a 50 percent discount, making Silver Access $5/month or Gold Access $12.50/month (standard pricing is Silver Access $10/month, Gold Access $25/month). USHJA members can visit www.eqsports.net and enter the USHJA member area to input their member number to receive their discount code. To join the USHJA as a free Outreach member, visit ushja.org/membership.
The USHJA thanks the Official Sponsors who helped to make these championships possible, including: Charles Owen, Inc., the Official Helmet of the USHJA; CWD, the Official Saddle of the USHJA; Parlanti International, the Official Riding Boot of the USHJA; Rood & Riddle, the Official Equine Hospital and Veterinary Pharmacy; Platinum Performance, title sponsor of the Green Hunter Incentive and International Hunter Derby Championships; The Clothes Horse, the Official Cooler of the Championships; EQSportsNet, the Official Host Broadcast; Championship Award Sponsors: Big Ass Fans, Boy O Boy Bridleworks, Essex Classics, FITS Riding, and Shapley's; Supporting Sponsors Nightwatch® and HorseLinc; Championship Welcome Reception Sponsor Kelly Sims and Windsor Stables; and Derby Challenge presenting sponsor, The Wheeler Family.
For more information, including the complete schedule, orders of go and online results for the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, visit www.ushja.org/DerbyChampionship.