Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 19
It’s a word Larry Glefke doesn’t use often, but it aptly described Kelley Farmer’s round aboard Baltimore in the opening round of the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship.
“Flawless,” Glefke said, shaking his head. “I never say this—I usually have a lot to say when she comes out of the ring, but that was flawless.”
The judges agreed—Farmer and Baltimore pulled scores of 92, 95 and 92 from the three judging panels, placing them a full 11 points higher than the next best pair (which happened to be Farmer on Kodachrome).
Baltimore jumped to base scores of 92, 95, and 92 plus 4 high options to take a commanding lead with Kelley Farmer. Photo by Kimberly Loushin
“Those horses were great today,” Farmer said. “I have nothing to say about that except those are incredible animals, and they didn’t let me down; they never let me down.”
Watch Farmer’s round with Baltimore:
Baltimore, owned by Jane Gaston, was Farmer’s first of four rides in the class.
“It was a little nerve-wracking that I had to do him first, but he was unbelievable,” Farmer said. “I mean he tried so hard, and he’s so brave and he can jump anything, so I never worry about what they build.”
Kelley Farmer also piloted Nina Moore’s Kodachrome, taking second on a 280. Photo by Kimberly Loushin.
Farmer’s second placed ride, the Nina Moore-owned entry Kodachrome, is a newer mount for the seasoned hunter rider. She took over the ride after the gelding’s previous rider, Russell Frey, passed away in May of this year.
“I could not have been more proud of him. He’s a first year horse and to walk in there and jump like that was unbelievable,” Farmer said.
“He fits in with Mindful and Baltimore—he has that kind of ability, that pop at the jumps. He has a freaky jump,” Glefke said. “And it gets bigger every week as he gets stronger.”
Kristy Herrera only had one show to practice with Miss Lucy, but she jumped to third in the classic round. Photo by Kimberly Loushin
Mindful, Farmer’s well-known mount with a slew of derby wins to his name, is sitting out this year’s derby finals with an injury. Farmer expects the gelding to be back in the game for the 2017 winter show season, which coincidently is precisely when fellow rider Jen Alfano hopes to be back in the saddle as well. Alfano’s long time partner, Miss Lucy, placed third in the opening round with Kristy Herrera in the irons as Alfano sits on the sidelines with a torn ACL and shoulder injury she incurred after a fall from Miss Lucy at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.).
Herrera just picked up the ride on Miss Lucy two weeks ago, and it took some adjustments to her riding style to best pilot the quirky chestnut mare.
“It’s Lucy’s way or no way, and I was the one who needed to adjust to her for sure,” Herrera said. “She has her own way of going and it is different than a lot of other horse I’ve ridden, but she’s so incredibly athletic and smart that once you get it you don’t have to do anything else.”
Though it was difficult sitting this year’s final out, Alfano was so happy for Lucy’s good placing with Herrera.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled, I was so nervous I thought I might have a heart attack,” Alfano said with a laugh, before taking a more serious tone. “I’m not going to lie, I woke up this morning and I was a little sad and a little feeling sorry for myself, but watching her go around, I just get teary eyed thinking about it.”
Indeed, just saying the words had Alfano choked up a bit.
“Watching Kristy in there today, it was amazing,” Alfano said. “And that was a hard thing she did today.”
The Bobby Murphy-designed course for the opening round of the final was not for the faint of heart—the fences were massive, with one of the high options measuring 4’10”, and there were plenty of things to look at as a horse went around course between the large sand sculptures and unique jump standards. It got the better of some pairs, but not these three.
“If you’re looking between the right ears, it’s not that hard,” Glefke said. “These [top three] horses have this quality, they walk to the jumps everyday and they don’t want to knock them down,” Glefke said. “I mean things go wrong, things can happen, but they make an effort to jump the jumps every day. You never have to ask them to do too much, their sincerity is to jump a foot high over everything.”
The top 25 horses from Friday’s opening round will return for Saturday night’s final handy round, and the overall winner of the finals will be determined from the two combined scores.
Click here for full reuslts from Friday’s opening round, and don’t forget to check out the Sept. 5th issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine for more in-depth coverage from the finals. See all the Chronicle’s Hunter Derby Championships coverage here.