August 21 Lexington, Ky.
Hunt Tosh and Lone Star picked up a huge victory in the $100,000 The Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals. The pair laid down a storybook classic round to give them a commanding lead, then never looked back, nailing every fence in the handy to win the top check for Betsee Parker.
Handy round winners, Summer Place and Scott Stewart, jumped to second overall, with Brunello and Liza Boyd earning third. The youngest rider at the competition, 12-year-old Tori Colvin, was the only junior (or non-professional for that matter) to crack the top 10. She rode World Time to fourth.
“I had enough of a lead after the first round, so instead of making a mistake I stayed conservative,” said Tosh of his handy plan. “I wouldn’t change anything about my ride today.”
Indeed Tosh’s first round elicited a score of 98 from judging Panel 1, Kitty Barker and Danny Robertshaw, and his other scores only dipped as low as 93.
“He’s an amazing horse for me,” said Hunt, Cumming, Ga. “Every time you call on him to do his best he steps up and does.”
The pair’s victories include regular working hunter titles at Capital Challenge (Md.), the Pennsylvania National and the Washington International (D.C) last year. But their derby résumé isn’t quite as extensive; they just won their first derby blue in June.
A Major Course
The top 25 riders from yesterday’s qualifying round took a turn around the indoor arena at the Kentucky Horse Park, starting with a clean slate. Course designers Bobby Murphy and Patrick Rodes continued the outdoor theme they started in Round 1, incorporating yesterday’s multi-level hedge and several inviting single oxers.
But the circle of hay bales caused the most chatter at the in gate. In the first round the circle was incomplete, and entries rode through the gap to jump the hay once, then loop around and immediately jump back in, take two strides, then jump out. In the handy the circle was closed, and entries had to jump through the obstacle once. Adding to the difficulty, riders approached the circle off a tight turn from the hedge.
The trot jump posed another major worry for riders in the handy. Set with sod underneath, riders feared it resembled a liverpool and would give mounts pause, but all made it through without problems. The handy finished with a hand gallop over an oxer right headed toward the in gate, and the best riders gave the crowd a riding lesson.
Like yesterday, one of the biggest challenges came with remembering the course, as the tracks consisted almost entirely of single jumps and long broken lines, and several fences were jumped more than once.
“Outside you wouldn’t jump the same jumps multiple times, so that takes a lot of mental focus,” said Boyd. “I thought the handy was tough with the tight turns and my horse being a long horse.”
Like yesterday, the all-star cast of stellar jumpers earned plenty of lofty scores. Every single entry jumped each high option offered, and no one held back.
But with the big risks come mistakes. Crowd favorites Jen Alfano and Jersey Boy lay fourth after the first round. They attempted to angle the hay circle in order to jump through in one stride instead of two, off a very tight turn from the hedge. The chestnut didn’t get his eye on the jump and dug in his heels, dropping him out of the hunt.
And Taken got stuck in the air over Fence 1, an oxer, and came down hard on the back rail. Kelley Farmer pulled up, gave the first year horse a big pat, then let him finish after regrouping.
Boyd had her work cut out for her to avoid falling to a similar fate. Her horse had met the circle of hay before—at the $50,000 The Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby in Wellington, Fla.—and he didn’t like it. After stopping out of that class Boyd went home, emptied out the hayloft to reconstruct the jump, and practiced, practiced, practiced. Her hard work paid off, as Brunello didn’t bat an eye at the circle this time around, and jumped consistently to place third overall.
Making It Look Easy
As always, the best horses and riders made the course look simple. Maggie Jayne earned the only bonus score of 10 for her efficient turns aboard Francesca, to finish an eventual seventh.
Stewart joked that his plan worked better for his student, Colvin, than for him. She and World Time looked keen and capable together as they nailed the course, with invisible aids and consistent rhythm.
Yesterday’s winners, Stewart and Summer Place, looked spot on from the start. They struck up plenty of pace, finessing the turns, and digging in for a major hand gallop at the last.
“I wanted to go for it from the beginning and do all the high options because you never know what will happen,” said Stewart, Flemington, N.J. “There were lots of places to gallop. Everything worked out great.”
In the classic round Tosh had accrued a 10-point buffer over the second-placed entry. So he selected efficient but not sliced turns and a steady gallop. But Lone Star’s consistent, reliable form earned scores ranging from 85 to 92.
“When I finished I thought our round was good enough to win,” said Tosh, who placed 22nd in yesterday’s qualifying round with Lone Star. “I was really excited when I saw the score, especially with that horse. He’s been so special for me.”
To see photos of the course walk, close ups of the hay circle, and more photos of the course, click here. Also, you can download course maps of today’s two rounds at www.chronofhorse.com/2010hunterderbyfinals.
The top 12 results follow. For full results, please visit www.shownet.biz and click on Bluegrass Festival.
Horse/Rider/Classic scores—Handy scores—Handy Bonus
*All riders received 4 high option points from each judging panel in each round
1 Lone Star/Hunt Tosh 98/93/93/94 90(8)/92(7)/85(6)/85(7)
2 Summer Place/Scott Stewart 93/88/86/92 92(9)/90(8)/89(8)/87(7)
3 Brunello/Elizabeth Boyd 95/90/90/93 89(6)/91(6)/87(4)/86(6)
4 World Time/Victoria Colvin 84/86.5/82.5/84 89(6)/91(6)/87(4)/86(6)
5 Listen/Kelley Farmer 85.5/86.75/83.5/86 86(6)/88(6)/83(3)/86(6)
6 Sander/Maggie Jayne 90/84.5/82/76 88(8)/79(8)/86(9)/85(9)
7 Francesca/Maggie Jayne 81.5/85.5/84.5/89 84(10)/75(9)/80(8)/88(9)
8 Declaration/Scott Stewart 87/83/81/83 83(8)/83(3)/85(7)/80(7)
9 Peridot/Tammy Provost 89/89/85/85 82(4)/76(5)/75(5)/76(5)
10 Tell All/Peter Pletcher 80/82.75/85/85 78(3)/82(3)/70(4)/72(7)
11 Taken/Kelley Farmer 93.5/83.5/88/78 40(5)/45(0)/45(6)/44(7)
12 Jersey Boy/Jennifer Alfano 88/86/87/90 40(2)/40(0)/40(7)/40(6)