Mumford, N.Y.—June 8
Larry Glefke didn’t send six horses to the Genesee Country Village and Museum for today’s $35,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby just for fun, especially since he had his hands full the day before two states away at the $20,000 class at the Upperville Horse Show.
After winning that class with Point Being, he and rider Kelley Farmer ignored a few traffic laws to get to the airport just in time to make their 10 p.m. flight to get to their next derby. That paid off when five of their charges occupied the top 12 spots in the class outside Rochester, N.Y.
“I thought I probably would have had a chance to win if we beat Jen, but I didn’t think it would be the white one,” said Glefke, who trains the mounts at Lane Change Farm.
“The white one” is 7-year-old first year horse Fabled, owned by Glefke in partnership with Ken and Selma Garber, and ridden at this debut event by Evan Coluccio, who assisted Farmer with her full dance card of rides.
“I told Evan that I thought he could win this class today, but Fabled would have been, experience-wise, the sixth best one I’d brought here,” said Glefke, Keswick, Va.
Another of Farmer’s first year horses, So To Speak, took second a week after winning the division title at Devon (Pa.). And Jen Alfano rode Jersey Boy to third.
“He’s a baby, and we haven’t really asked anything like this from him yet,” said Coluccio, Wellington, Fla. “In the first round I was a little more conservative and took some of the low options. In the handy, he was so good. I knew I still had Jersey Boy coming, so I had to try and go for it.”
Fabled lay second, just 7 points off the lead, after the classic round, and in Round 2, Coluccio chose the high options and snugger turns to finish on top. When Jersey Boy ran into lead problems in Round 2, Fabled moved up to the top spot.
Course designer Bobby Murphy kept the jumps relatively modest—up to about 4’2”—because the undulating terrain on the huge grass field created enough of a challenge. The venue hosts driving events, but this weekend’s standalone event marked its first hunter competition. Murphy created beautiful natural fences, many crafted from materials found on the premises of the re-created 19th century village. In the handy riders had to hand gallop the first fence—a long pull uphill in front of the crowd—then had plenty of options to show off with tighter turns.
So To Speak leapt up the leaderboard from seventh to second when he topped the handy round. And fresh off a derby win at Devon, Farmer put in a serious bid on her newer ride Mindful to move up from 11th to overall fifth. Farmer finished fourth, too, on Unspoken.
“I had no option except to give it a shot and do it,” said Farmer, Keswick, Va. “Of course I have a group of horses that are sort of used to me doing that. My young ones have learned from the beginning. Fortunately Mindful is getting used to it!”
Coluccio spent the first part of the week with Farmer in Upperville, then came to Mumford on Thursday along with the six Lane Change mounts to get them settled in.
Coluccio’s just started riding for Glefke and Farmer during the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.), so he doesn’t have a long tenure with either of his charges he brought to Mumford. In the ‘90s Coluccio dominated the junior and pony ranks but lately he’s been focusing on young horses. While he’s enthusiastic about competing top hunters in the open divisions, it hasn’t lessened his love of the sport. With a lighter schedule the last few days he took his charges out for long handwalks and impromptu photo sessions. After winning the class, he encouraged the crowd to clap and whoop during the victory gallop.
“I spent so much time on the ground that it made it so much easier, because getting horses ready for [Kelley] for me is the best job ever,” he said. “The fact that I get to ride horses is the icing on the cake.”
Catch up on all the action from yesterday’s USHJA National Hunter Derby at the Genesee Country Village and Museum.