Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 20
Hunt Tosh was tempting fate when he decided to hop on Cannon Creek this morning before the classic round of the Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship.
For all three days of the Platinum Performance USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships, he had KJ Pearson ride Twain in the morning, and that horse won the 3’/3’3” green incentive championship yesterday. But today Tosh changed it up a little bit.
“I woke up this morning—maybe I was nervous—I told her I was going to ride [Cannon Creek],” he said. “I rode him for about 10 minutes and said it was a bad idea, and she got on and fixed it. I’m going to go with that tomorrow. I’ll let her do her thing and see how tomorrow goes.
“It’s worked the last two days, so we’re going to keep it,” he added.
His good luck charm certainly worked well as Tosh now sits in the top spot of the derby championship heading into the handy round on a score of 291 (with base scores of 94, 94 and 91 plus four high option bonus points).
“Perfect, it was awesome,” Tosh said after his round. “I loved it. It was a nice course; it was fun. My horse went beautifully. [I] did a class down there early in the week just to kind of check where he was, and he jumped spectacular today.”
Tosh has only had Cannon Creek, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cancara—Tiffany S) owned by the Wheeler family, since the end of the Florida season. Cassandra Kahle was showing him for Emil Spadone when the gelding caught Tosh’s eye.
“He’s very straightforward, super scopey,” Tosh said. “He’s a blast to ride.”
For much of the morning, the field was chasing reigning champions Tori Colvin and El Primero, who were second in the ring and earned a score of 284 that proved impossible for all but Tosh to catch. They head into tomorrow evening’s handy round in second place.
“He was perfect,” she said. “We went really early. It was a little foggy when we went, but he didn’t care. He hasn’t shown since [Winter Equestrian Festival 12 (Florida)] actually, so I did a class earlier this week, like Hunt, and he just went out there and was perfect.”
When asked if she felt pressure to turn her three-peat into four victories, Colvin was matter of fact about the situation.
“No,” she said. “I kind of just go with the flow. I just see how it goes, see how the day goes, and see where the day takes us.”
Rounding out the top three was Scott Stewart on Hudson with a score of 279. Stewart hasn’t been at the championships since 2013, and he admitted to feeling some nerves.
“I was a little nervous because I haven’t done it in so long, but both my horses, especially the one that made it through [to the handy] really give me confidence, so I’m enjoying it,” he said. “It’s going to be fun.”
The top 20 combinations after the classic round will return tomorrow evening to compete in the Section A handy round. The top 20 horses ridden by Tier II riders (based on three years’ worth of money earned in the derby program) will advance to the Section B handy and will be awarded a separate set of ribbons.
Five Tier II riders—Stewart with Hudson, Laena Romond with Uptown, Jeff Gogul with No Doubt, Grace Debney with Quimby and Ellie Ferrigno with Astro De Ravel—finished in the top 20 today to qualify for Section A. They will be eligible for prize money in both sections. Handy round action kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Saturday with Section B, immediately followed by Section A.
The Chronicle is on-site bringing you gorgeous photos, great interviews and behind-the-scenes stories. Make sure to follow along at www.coth.com, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can read all of our coverage of the Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships here.
We will have a full analysis of the competition in the Sept. 6 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.