Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 22, 2021—Culminating an incredible week at the Kentucky Horse Park, Hunt Tosh and Cannon Creek rode to the top of the $311,740 Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship. The Alpharetta, Georgia, rider went into the Section A Handy Round in the top spot and held the lead, walking away with $52,646.65.
As the highest place pair from yesterday’s Classic Hunter Round, Tosh and Cannon Creek, a 2011 Holsteiner gelding owned by The Wheeler Family, were last to compete over Alan Lohman and Danny Moore’s track. The 12-effort course had horses and riders taking a tour of the Rolex Arena, including over a trot jump and four high options. After second-placed Victoria Colvin and El Primero scratched and third-placed Scott Stewart had a bobble aboard Hudson, the pressure was on for Tosh to finish in first. The nerves didn’t get to the veteran rider, taking home the Championship win with a two-round score of 606.
“When Tori had to scratch her horse and when Scott’s horse made a mistake, the nerves kicked in a little bit because I had a little bit of a gap in there and I’m like ‘don’t completely mess up, don’t fall off right now, this would be bad,’ but no he was great; it was a fun class to win,” Tosh said.
“My horse is so scopey, he does [the high options] so easy,” he continued. “I kind of walked all the high options and made my plan and stuck with it. I thought if I overthink it I for sure would make a mistake. It was a lot of trips to watch and I’m usually better off not paying that much attention and kind of sneaking in at the last minute and doing it. But I kind of stuck to my plan from the beginning.”
This was Tosh’s first time back in the winner’s seat at the Championships since his win in 2010 with Lone Star.
“It’s really cool to see that he has another horse as cool as Lone Star because Lone Star was a horse of a lifetime, and that doesn’t happen very often,” said Liza Boyd, commenting on Tosh’s mount. “When I saw [Cannon Creek] jump it was so much like Lone Star and it gives me hope that maybe I can find another Brunello in 10 years.”
Moving up from tenth in the first round to take second overall was Samantha Schaefer and Caristo, owned by R & R Hunter Horses, LLC. Finishing with a 576.6, the Westminster, Maryland, rider and the 2013 Holsteiner gelding walked away with $34,441.04, a solid collection for a duo that was not originally planning on competing and a horse that is new to the International Derby ring.
“We did the Green Hunter Incentive Championship on Thursday and this was just a bonus. We weren’t even sure if we were going to do this class tonight,” Schaefer said. “We were really happy with him yesterday; he finished tenth and I guess my expectations were to just kind of see how it’s going. My plan was to jump all the high options and it just kind of all happened. I thought he was with me the whole round and I really couldn’t have asked him to be any better. This is only his fourth derby.”
Boyd, of Camden, South Carolina, and Rebekah Warren’s Cassico took home the third place ribbon and $26,435.55 in prize money. The pair entered the ring for the Handy round in eight and quickly moved up the leaderboard with a 571.5 overall. The only rider to win the Championship on the same horse three years in a row, Boyd is no stranger to the top of the class.
“This is my fourth time being third and it was the most fun. On the podium, I was so excited. These medals, thank you guys; it made third almost as fun as winning,” Boyd said. “It’s fun for us Hunter riders because we don’t get this opportunity and this is the Olympics for us, so it’s a big deal.”
For the Handy Hunter Round, riders were grouped into two tiers based on the amount of total money earned over the last three years in International Hunter Derbies. 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 were eligible for 80 percent prize money and to compete in Section A of the Handy round. The top 20 Tier II horse-and-rider combinations, including those who qualified for Section A, were eligible for 20 percent of the prize money; those not in Section A competed in Section B of the Handy.
Topping Section B was Leana Romond, of Brookefield, Connecticut. After finishing twentieth in the Classic Hunter Round with Uptown, her own 2010 Zangersheide gelding, she accumulated $29,004.29 from earning fifth in Section A and first in Section B.
“I bought him sort of as an investment, maybe equitation horse. And he excelled at the Derbies and he’s won a few checks, so as long as he keeps doing that, I can kind of keep doing it and it works. I honestly kind of have to pinch myself that I own a horse that’s capable of doing something like this because that was special,” Romond said.
The overall Section A champion received a Charles Owen Helmet, product from Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital and Pharmacy and Platinum Performance, an Essex Show Shirt, a belt from Boy O Boy Bridleworks, and a cooler from The Clothes Horse. The overall Section A champion rider will also receive a CWD saddle, a pair of Parlanti International tall boots, and was awarded the Beaver River Farm Perpetual Trophy. The Wrenwood Farm Trophy was awarded to the overall Section A champion's owner. The winning trainer will receive product from Nutrena.
The Section B champion rider received Parlanti International tall boots, an Essex Classic Show Shirt, a gift from Rood & Riddle Pharmacy, a cooler from The Clothes Horse and product from Platinum Performance.
Additional awards were presented throughout the evening. The Rider Style Award recognizes the rider who best displays the American style of riding in the ring and sportsmanship outside of the competition arena. Shawn Casady was awarded this year’s honor. In Section A, the top placing Junior-owner and rider was Grace Debney with Quimby. In Section B, the top placing Amateur-owner rider was Didi Mackenzie and MTM Do Right, the Junior-owner was Sterling Malnik aboard Charlie, and the Junior rider was Ariana Marnell with Ocean Road. The Shapley's Best Turned Out Award went to Uptown, ridden by Romond and groomed by Asbel Hernandez.
Also presented were the 2021 Championship Qualifying Series winners. Big Shot, owned by Dulcie Lou Morris, was the Leading Horse of the Qualifying Series and Kelley Farmer was the Leading Rider of the Qualifying Series, earning the Emerson Burr Perpertual Trophy.
The $10,000 Derby Challenge allowed those who didn't qualify for the Section A or Section B Handy Hunter Rounds to return with a clean slate. Jimmy Torano and Laskano, owned by Isalou, Inc., won the class.
New this year was a special award in memory of Liza Boyd’s late groom, The Alberto Ramirez International Hunter Derby Groom’s Award. Alberto was a mainstay in Liza and Brunello’s multiple USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship wins, and we are proud to honor his memory alongside his friends with this new award that was presented posthumously on Saturday evening.
On-demand access to every round of the Championship can be found on Horse & Country, official broadcast provider of the 2021 Platinum Performance/USHJA Hunter Week. Coverage includes expert commentary from Britt McCormick and Rachel Kennedy.
The USHJA thanks the Official Sponsors who helped to make these championships possible, including Charles Owen, Inc., the Official Helmet of the USHJA Championships; CWD, the Official Saddle of the USHJA; Nutrena® the Official Horse Feed 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; Horse & Country, the Official Broadcast Provider; Kelly Sims & Windsor Stables, supporting sponsor of the Championships Live Stream; The Clothes Horse, Official Cooler of the Derby Championship; and Hunter Championship Award Sponsors Essex Classics, Boy O Boy Bridleworks and Shapley's.
For more information about the Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship and complete results, visit ushja.org/DerbyChampionship.
Photos: Terisé Cole/USHJA, Shawn McMillen Photography and Tricia Booker/USHJA