Saugerties, N.Y.—Sept. 7
Twenty-eight horse and rider combinations were entered in Round 1 of the Stal Hendrix Green Futurity, held Thursday at the HITS Saugerties Championship. By the close of Saturday’s fourth and final round, Nick Haness had claimed the top two spots.
Haness, 31, earned first-place honors aboard the 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding Crowd Pleaser, a horse he began competing in May. And he finished second with the 6-year-old Warmblood gelding Reese’s.
Haness “is a talent unto any,” said Shari Rose, trainer at the West Coast Equine Partners, LLC (California), where Haness has worked for the past six years. He’s able to bring the best out of his young horses, as seen throughout the three-day Futurity.
“They were both great this week,” said Haness. “We’re a long way from home [California], so for them to be here this week in New York was a really fun week, and for it to go well was really nice.”
Haness and Crowd Pleaser topped the leaderboard in Round 1 of the Futurity and finished second behind Cassandra Kahle and Givenchy on Thursday. In Rounds 3 and 4, held Saturday, they recovered points lost to secure the winning placing.
“He is amazing; that horse is just truly a competitor,” said Haness. “He knows when it’s important, he knows when it’s time to shine, and he gave me every bit of his effort tonight. In the final two rounds, I thought he just got better and better, and he was just awesome. He was a horse that I had found earlier this year in Europe and imported, and he started his hunter career just shortly ago, so he’s learning a lot quickly, and he likes his new job.”
Reese’s, on the other hand, wasn’t too far behind his older barnmate when he entered Saturday’s final round. He finished second in Round 1 and dropped down to the fourth position on Friday, but fought back in Rounds 3 and 4.
“Reese’s is quite young, he’s pretty green,” said Haness. “He’s developed a lot this year, but this was his first finals here in New York. He did [Round 2 of the $250,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix] earlier, and being able to do that and then do this pre-green so well— we’re really happy and thrilled.”
Two For Two
When Jennifer Jones and Virgo DC enter the third and final round of the $250,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix on Sunday, they’ll be competing on a clean slate. The points they earned from Rounds 1 and 2 won’t matter, but for Jones, it’s still good to know that her horse is ready and in top form.
“I think he went as well as he did yesterday,” said Jones. “I was more so thinking to have a consistent round today because tomorrow we start over. So, I was just basically trying to survive but I knew he could also do a winning round.”
Virgo felt relaxed in the warm-up, with Jones acknowledging that she doesn’t do much to get the easy-going horse ready for the ring.
“At home, he loves going out in the field so he spends a couple of hours out when it’s nice weather,” she said. “We have a nice big grass field and I ride him there to keep him interested. We don’t practice jumping him a lot at home; we jumped him once before he came here and then it was raining the last couple days when we left so I didn’t even ride him for two days. Last week we showed him in this ring, and that was pretty much it.”
“He knows the ring now and he’s not a spooky horse,” she added, “so basically I think I warm-up a little bit for myself and to get him loose so he’s ready to go.”
Back With A Vengeance
Tess Lee admitted that she had a rough ride in Round 1 of the $100,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix, held Friday. She and the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding EEA Timberland didn’t crack the top 12.
But for Saturday’s Round 2, Lee was committed to riding forward and avoiding getting stuck in the corners. She aimed to ride to the best of her abilities for “Timmy,” and her efforts paid off in the form of a blue ribbon and a ticket to Sunday’s final round.
“I came back 15th, so today I wanted to be smoother, not pick at the jumps and to ride the canter that I was on instead of trying to make decisions last second,” said Lee, 23, Potomac, Maryland.
Timmy is a new horse at the New Jersey-based, Redfield Farms, where Lee works as a groom. She began competing him a week ago. She’s currently in her senior year at Pennsylvania State University, where she studies energy, business and finance.