It’s the week hunter riders have been waiting for all year. The Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship kicks off Friday, Aug. 17, and the nation’s top pairs are going to battle it out for the title during the 10th running of the Super Bowl for hunters.
There are previous champions in attendance, hoping for another win. Liza Boyd has won this competition three times with Brunello (2013, 2014, 2015) and is the only rider to have won the championship multiple times. She’s bringing Clemens this year. Hunt Tosh won the 2010 edition—the only one held indoors—with Lone Star, and he’s got plenty of star power with Flamingo-K in the mix.
Jen Alfano rode Jersey Boy to victory in 2012, and while he’s retired, she’s got two shots in Miss Lucy (who won in 2016 with Kristy Herrera while Alfano was injured) and Candid. Herrera is the only person to win on a catch ride, but this year she has two of her own mounts in the mix: Kensi and Remington. Tori Colvin and Cuba have returned to the Kentucky Horse Park to defend last year’s title. Colvin has plenty of shots at the top spot, as she also has I Love Lucy, Private Practice and Gelato entered.
Two previous winners won’t be in attendance this year. John French, who won the inaugural championship with Rumba in 2008, planned on coming, but he’s back home in California recovering from a bad fall. Lillie Keenan was the only junior to win in 2011 on C Coast Z, but she’s exclusively riding jumpers these days.
Here’s what you need to know:
When: Friday, Aug. 17, 8:00 a.m. Opening ceremonies
8:15 a.m. First horse on course in the classic round
Saturday, Aug. 18, 3 p.m. Derby Challenge round, open to any horse that didn’t advance to the handy round.
6:30 p.m. Handy round.
Where: The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
How You Can Watch: EqSportsNet will be live-streaming all day every day at this link. A subscription is required ($9.99 per month) to watch live; a full access subscription ($25.00 per month) is required for watching on-demand videos. USHJA is offering a coupon code for 50 percent off, USHJA2018, to be entered at checkout. Note: Full Access includes the live and on-demand coverage of both USHJA championships this week. Questions about the discount can be sent to email@example.com.
How You Can Follow Along: The Chronicle will be on site with two reporters 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 @Chronofhorse
Useful links and information:
• All the Chronicle’s Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship coverage, with behind-the-scenes stories, lovely photos and more!
• We will have full analysis of the competition in the Sept. 3 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine
Format: All entries will complete the classic round, and then things get a little tricky. Riders are grouped into two tiers based on the amount of derby money they’ve won in the past three years, as of Dec. 1, 2017. Any rider standing 40th or higher on that list is classified as Tier I.
The top 20 combinations from the classic round will advance to the handy round as part of section A. They’re competing for 80 percent of the prize money and the championship title. The top 20 horses ridden by a Tier II rider will also advance to the handy as part of section B and are eligible to win the remaining 20 percent of the prize money. If any of those Tier II combinations are in the top 20 overall after the classic round, they’re eligible to receive prize money from both section A and B.
No Tier II rider has ever won the overall title, but many have come close. Geoffrey Hesslink was second last year on Cadoretto in section A and won section B.