Lexington, Ky.—August 17, 2019—Making history, defending champion Victoria Colvin claimed her third win in the $256,640 Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, this time aboard Meralex Farm’s El Primero. Completing the podium alongside Colvin was Nick Haness in reserve and Patricia Griffith finishing third.
Tori Colvin secured her third USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship title aboard Meralex Farm's El Primero. Colvin is now tied with Liza Boyd for most wins. Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography
Twenty-five horses contested the championship Handy Round course designed by Alan Lohman and Danny Moore. But it was Colvin’s scores of 94, 95 and 92 plus the high options over the 13-effort course, combined with her 284 score from the Classic Hunter Round, that put her on top for the third year in a row with a 603 overall. The Loxahatchee, Florida, rider now joins Liza Boyd as the only riders to win the Championship three times. “It feels amazing,” she said. “I’ve been showing in this Derby for a really long time; to win it once and then now a couple times in a row, the victory never gets old. It’s so amazing here—the crowd and winning. It’s the same feeling every time; it never dies down, so today was as special as the first time.”
Trained by Peggy Gehman, “Primo” isn’t a horse in Colvin’s string at home, being previously ridden by Louise Serio, but that didn’t stop the pair. “I haven’t done him in too many night classes, so Louise said to just make sure—he might be a little peaky at first because she knows him really well—so the first couple jumps I was kind of holding his hand a bit. Once I felt he was comfortable, I kind of just went with it and tried to be as handy as I could,” she said. “He went in there, and he was the best he could be. I couldn’t have done it without the team that was behind him; it’s been a special night.”
Colvin also rode last year's champion, Private Practice, owned by Brad Wolf, in the Championship, taking eighth. “After 'Peter' went—and he was very good but still a little impressed—I was like 'uh oh.' Primo needed to be really good, and he really rose up to the occasion.”
Nick Haness and Verdict, owned by Lindsey Schiefelbein, took home more than $38,729.10 in prize money as Reserve Champion of Section A and Champion of Section B. Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography
Finishing in second in Section A and Champion in Section B was Tier II rider Nick Haness, from Temecula, California, aboard Lindsey Schiefelbein's Verdict. After a successful first half of the week with a fourth in the 3'0"/3'3" Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship, Haness walked away from USHJA Hunter Week with a total of $54,242.57, including more than $18,000 Tier II prize money. “The Tier II [prize money] is really a bonus. I’m really excited about the checks and that’s really cool, but most importantly, I’m really excited for my horses,” said Haness. “That’s more what I came here to do and accomplish—to produce a successful week with my pre-green horses and with my derby horse, so I’m just completely on cloud nine that this week went so well.”
Haness’ score of 276.5 from the Classic Hunter Round had him return to the ring second to last. “I was in a good position coming into today’s round from yesterday, and [my strategy was] just to really put the course together like it was a puzzle—just one piece at a time, focus on what the horse needed to produce the best outcome, and be handy but also be tactical. The jumps were really big tonight,” he said. "Laying down a trip that earned him a 302 from the judges, his strategy paid off.
Patricia Griffith and Callie Seaman's Diamante finished third overall in the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship. Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography
Patricia Griffith entered the ring aboard Diamante with five more to go and rode to a 302 to take third with a 568 total. She and the stallion, owned by Callie Seaman, also took reserve in the 3'6"/3'9" Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship. “I am quite proud of him; he’s very new to hunters. I think he started week five in Florida, and I’m happy for his owner because she’s been through a lot. She’s had a rough year with some injuries, and that’s the reason I got the opportunity, so I’m thankful for that,” she said. “I haven’t done this class in a very long time, and what a great horse to aim at those fences with the feeling of no leg needed. I am very thankful for her for giving me that opportunity to kind of make him up for her, and hopefully she’ll be back soon.”
2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Champions Tori Colvin and Meralex Farm's El Primero. Photo: Tricia Booker/USHJA
Judging the Championship this week were Tom Brennan, Richard Fancher, Daniel Robertshaw, William Sparks, Geoff Teall and James Toon. Derby courses were designed by Alan Lohman.
For the Saturday evening 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 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 were 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, such as Haness, were eligible for 20 percent of the prize money; those not in Section A competed in Section B of the Handy.
Additionally, the overall champion of Section A received 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.
As the overall Section A champion rider, Colvin also received 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, Peggy Gehman, received a Haiku Fan from Big Ass Fans.
Nick Haness, Section B champion rider, received 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.
Fellow West Coast rider, Jenny Karazissis of Calabasas, California, was presented with the Rider Style Award. Presented by Tricia Booker on behalf of Bill Rube, the award recognizes the rider who best displays the American style of riding in the ring and sportsmanship outside of the competition arena.
Ellie Ferrigno was presented with the award for the top placing Junior-owner rider, and Nicole Lyvere was presented with the award for the top placing Amateur-owner rider.
The $10,000 Derby Challenge, presented by The Wheeler Family, attracted 35 competitors and allowed those who didn't qualify for the Section A or Section B Handy Hunter Rounds to return with a clean slate. The class was held at 3 p.m., prior to the Section A and B Handy Hunter Rounds, and gave competitors another opportunity to compete in the Rolex Stadium over an impressive Handy Hunter course.
Taking top honors in the Challenge was Holly Shepherd riding High Society, owned by Mary Antonini. Hannah Isop and Red Ryder, owned by Tracy Freels, finished second and Amanda Steege and Cheryl Olsten's Lafitte De Muze rounded out the top three.
Diamante and Griffith were presented with this year's Shapley's Best Turned Out Award. Sally Stith-Burdette was on hand to present groom Eric Pineta with a Shapley's Awards Package.
Additional awards presented included the 2019 Championship Qualifying Series winners.
The USHJA thanks Show Manager Hugh Kincannon and the entire Kentucky Horse Shows team for their assistance with the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships and Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships.
Holly Shepherd and Mary Antonini's High Society finished on top in the $10,000 Derby Challenge, presented by The Wheeler Family. Photo: Tricia Booker/USHJA
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.
EQSportsNet provided live stream coverage and offers on-demand videos from this year's Derby Championship. USHJA members receive a 50 percent discount on their monthly EQSportsNet subscription. Members can enter their membership number on the USHJA member area on eqsports.net to receive their discount code. To join as a free Outreach member, visit ushja.org/membership.
For full coverage, please look for the September print issue of USHJA In Stride. For more information about the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship, visit www.ushja.org/DerbyChampionship.
About the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association
The United States Hunter Jumper Association, as the official hunter/jumper affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation, is a competition-based sport organization that serves our members through educational programs, awards and recognition, communication and rules. We provide a wide array of programs for all hunter/jumper levels, and we are mindful of the well-being of our equine partners. Additionally, we are committed to preserving the history of our sport and through our Foundation we support charitable and benevolent services. Learn more at ushja.org.