Wayne, IL – Equifest II celebrated Derby Day today at the Lamplight Equestrian Center. The day featured the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby for the hunters and a $30,000 Jumper Speed Derby for the jumpers.
Top hunter riders included Jennifer Alfano and Kelly Farmer, who also came for World Championship Hunter Rider week during Equifest II. Sixteen horse and rider combinations showed off in the SmartPak Grand Prix arena vying for the top honors. Linda Andrisani and Holly Orlando were the panel 1 judges and Dee Thomas and Tucker Erickson were the panel 2 scores. With the USHJA Hunter Derby Finals approaching, August 13-15, 2015 in Lexington, KY, derby riders had their game faces on, as this was the last derby they would ride in before the finals. The Grand Prix arena allowed for a nice galloping course and several inside turn options for the handy rounds. Several long run single jumps permitted riders to show off a gallop.
Jennifer Alfano had three horses in the International Derby, Miss Lucy, Miramar and the 2013 USHJA International Derby Winner, Jersey Boy. Alfano has won $936,559 in lifetime hunter rider earnings and Jersey Boy has been USEF Horse of the Year three times. They are definitely serious contenders for the derby finals again.
Kelly Farmer had six horses in the International Derby. Farmer was the first hunter rider to earn a million dollars in the hunter divisions. To date, Farmer has earned $1,586,302 in hunter rider earnings, more than any hunter rider in history but Farmer has yet to win a derby final.
The elite few who have won the prestigious hunter derby finals include, John French and Rumba, Hunt Tosh with Lone Star, Lilly Keenan and C Coast Z, Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy and Liza Towell-Boyd with Brunello, who are the only pair to win the finals twice. After the classic round, all six of Farmer’s rides would return for the handy with Dalliance on top with a first round score of 190 and Taken in second place with 189. Mindful and Symbolic were also in the top six.
All three of Alfano’s mounts would return also, with Jersey Boy in third with 187. Miramar and his new star design, which replaces the classic checkerboard on the horse’s hindquarters, with a score of 169, would round out the top six. The top three spots were just a few points apart, so the handy round would make the difference for the win. The scores went higher and higher as the rounds returned from low score to high. Miramar and Alfano added a 192 to their first round for t total of 361. Farmer’s Symbolic added a 205 from the second round to total 377. Mindful scored 204 to add to their first round for a 384. Then it was up to the top three, Jersey Boy, Taken and Dalliance to battle it out.
Jersey Boy was handy and beautiful, showing off his trademark gallop to scores of 8 for handiness and added 208.5 for a total of 395.5. Next, Farmer and Taken galloped the track with handy turns and handy scores of 8 and 9, also adding 208.5 to their score, for a total of 397.5, now just 2 points ahead of Alfano with Dalliance left to go.
Dalliance returned with a gorgeous round until the third to last jump, where he tripped hard after landing after the end oxer, but made a good recovery to finish. One set of judges awarded an 80 as a base score and the other set of judges awarded a 50, knocking Dalliance out of the top ribbons. In the end, it was still Farmer with the win by two points with Jessica Stitt’s Taken. Alfano and SBS Farms’ Jersey Boy took second place and Farmer again with Mindful for third.
“I am over the moon thrilled,” said Taken’s owner, Stitt. “He’s the horse of a lifetime and I’m absolutely thrilled to be here to see it. You’ll never get another horse like this one and he jumped through the roof amazing.” Stitt talked about her hopes for the finals, “I just want him to go around good, blue ribbons are great but I just want him to be the great horse he is.”
“Dalliance is a fantastic animal and he tried to be so good and just caught his toe,” said Farmer. “ Taken was just like a young horse again here today. He’s had it a little easy lately.”
“He was horse of the year as a first year horse, second year horse and high performance horse,” added Glefke. “Then Jess (Stitt) did him in the amateurs for a bit and he did the juniors which is like pony jumps for him. We started him back in the spring and he’s been great coming back.” Glefke shared his thoughts on the upcoming finals, “Let me win and I’ll be out of here,” laughed Glefke. “I’m quitting, retiring. I’m going to retire when she (Farmer) either wins the derby finals or earns two million dollars.”
“I’m Just going to walk away now,” joked Farmer. Time will tell if that is in fact the truth.
USHJA International Hunter Derby
1. TAKEN FARMER, KELLEY STITT, JESSICA
2. JERSEY BOY ALFANO, JENNIFER SBS FARMS INC,
3. MINDFUL ARMER, KELLEY KENSEL, LLC, .
4. SYMBOLIC FARMER, KELLEY GLEFKE & KENSEL,LLC
5. MIRAMAR ALFANO, JENNIFER ALFANO, JENNIFER
6. MISS LUCY ALFANO, JENNIFER LENAHAN, HELEN
7. DALLIANCE FARMER, KELLEY
8. POINT BEING FARMER, KELLEY GLEFKE, DAVID
9. EXTRAORDINAIRE CLARK, TOMMI BORDERS, STEPHEN
10. CASCARON SHEPHERD, HOLLY CAMP, MARGARET
11. SO TO SPEAK FARMER, KELLEY GLEFKE & KENSEL,LLC,
12. WHITE LIGHTNING YOUNG, SARAH GILBERT, HELEN