Katy, TX - April 9, 2011 - The air was electric for the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by the Carole and Jim Looke Family Fund, held at the Spring Gathering Charity Horse Show. Thirty-seven horse and riders combinations turned out to compete for the grand prize and winning title. After the top 12 showed over the handy course the victory went to Hayley Barnhill and Safari. The pair led from start to finish with incredible scores of 92 and 96 in the first round and a solid effort in the handy round with a pair 88s. Jennifer Alafano piloted Miss Lucy to a close second, while Tracy Fenney finished third and fourth with Exposure and Inxs, respectively.
Richard Jeffery of Bomemouth, England, designed tonight's courses. The first round included two bending lines, a two-stride vertical-oxer, and four options for bonus points at higher fences. The top twelve rides then advanced to the more technical handy round where there were many options for inside turns, a long one-stride, a trot fence, and a snake option. At the end of the course riders also had to collect a piece of mail from a mailbox at the end of the ring by the in-gate.
The one stride would prove tricky for many of the riders early on who tried to take a tight turn before and after the combination. Hayley Barnhill and her first mount, Libretto owned by Alliy Moyer, were unable to make it through the test as the rider took an fortunate fall, but it would prove to be a helpful lesson later in the evening.
Three horses had rails over the course, including the favorites and winners of the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy, owned by SBS Farms, sat in the second place position after the first round with 93.5 and 96 and were well on their way to a win in the handy round until the very end of the course. After smoothly completing the inside turns and opting for the higher fences, Alfano and Jersey Boy picked up a quick hand gallop to the last oxer, where a long distance would prove costly as they dislodged the back rail. The unfortunate error cost them important points and they eventually placed eighth.
Choco Mousse, owned by Clair Thomas and ridden by Erynn Ballard, stepped up from the twelth place position to the seventh place position overall after an solid handy round with scores of 72 and 78 and combined scores of 321.5. The sixth place ribbon went to Tracy Fenney riding To The Nines, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ken MacKenzie. The duo was fourth after the first round with scores of 89.5 and 88.5, but they had a rub at the first fence in the combination and eventually had an overall total of 334.
Tammy Provost scored the fifth place award with Valient, owned by Alliy Moyer. The duo opted for the inside route after the combination and were awarded six handy points by each of the judges, which eventually brought their total to 338.5.
Fenney and Inxs, owned by Robin Swinderman, were the second horse and rider combination to tackle the handy round holding the sixth place position after the first round. As one of the earlier pairs they tried to optimize the inside routes but had rubs at two of the fences. The judges awarded them 77 and 69, as well as 8 handy points from each and 8 total bonus points. Their final score came out to 346 and they would finish in the fourth place position.
With her final mount, Exposure owned by Alexandra Zell, Fenney chose to be more conservative but still took some of the handier options. Her round was very smooth and she took two of the higher options. The judges awarded the pair an 84 and an 82, plus 5 handy points each. The pair's total of 347.75 would move them from fifth in the ranking to third at the end of the night.
Alfano and her first mount of the night, Miss Lucy owned by Helen Lenahan, were third after the first round with two scores of 93. The pair chose more of the outside routes during the handy course but were very precise and still opted for all of the higher fences. Their excellent effort was awarded with scores of 90 and 85, plus handy scores of 6 and 5. The duo's overall total came to an incredible 380 points, which would win the reserve title.
"I thought Miss Lucy was awesome tonight, I was so happy," smiled Alfano. "This is her best placing in a derby so far and I was thrilled. She was unbelievable during the handy; she jumped outrageous."
During the first round, Barnhill took a very commanding lead aboard Alliy Moyer's Safari. The duo was virtually flawless at each fence and the judges awarded them with scores of 92 and 96, with 8 bonus points for choosing the higher options. When they stepped into the ring for the handy round they knew that they needed to complete the task at hand successfully, but with the lead well in hand they chose to take some of the safer options. The pair navigated the course smoothly and Safari jumped each fence exceptionally. After they successfully collected the mail at the end of the course the crowd roared with excitement. The judges each announced scores of 88, with 5 and 4 handy points, and 8 total bonus points. The incredible scores brought Barnhill's total to 383, three points ahead of Alfano, so that they would lead the evening's victory gallop.
This was Barnhill's first Derby aboard Safari, who she began riding at WEF for Moyer when she had school obligations. "He's an amazing horse and he is always right there looking for your signal. He jumped incredibly during the first round, I was really happy with him," expressed Barnhill.
"For the handy we had watched Jersey Boy have a rail so we knew we didn't need to go crazy. It was little a disastrous for everyone who tried to do the crazy inside turns," explained Barnhill. "In the second round that one stride was really long if you did the inside turn there, it was hard to get out of, I figured that out on the first horse. The inside turn after the combination was tricky too."
Barnhill felt confident with Safari, who she earned a Junior Hunter championship with at WEF. "Safari is perfect and was able to just go with everything," she said. "Safari is perfect and was able to just go with it."
The trip to the Spring Gathering Charity Horse Show has been a very good one for Barnhill, who spent the last 12 weeks at WEF. "Tammy [Provost] asked me if I could come show these horses this week," she noted. "I like the venue. It's nice after WEF, kind of relaxing, a little less stressful, and there are lots of nice people."
Provost is the trainer for all of Moyer's mounts, and was very pleased with Barnhill's performance. "It is a great match with her and Safari and we really appreciate her coming to ride him," she commented." This is my first year coming here, but Peter is a good friend and we thought we would come support his horse show. We really love it, the venue is great and we will come back and do it again."
The Spring Gathering Charity Horse Show will come to a close tomorrow with the week's final highlight event, the $25,000 Seashore Acres Grand Prix. The nation's top horse and rider combinations will compete in the Main Indoor Arena beginning at 1:00 p.m. to try and garner the week's winning title.
$50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
1 SAFARI MOYER, ALLIY BARNHILL, HAYLEY PROVOST, TAMARA
2 MISS LUCY LENAHAN, HELEN ALFANO, JENNIFER SCHOELLKOPF, SUSAN
3 EXPOSURE ZELL, ALEXANDRA FENNEY, TRACY MCCORMICK, MICHAEL
4 INXS SWINDERMAN, ROBIN FENNEY, TRACY MCCORMICK, MICHAEL
5 VALIANT MOYER, ALLIY PROVOST, TAMARA PROVOST, TAMARA
6 TO THE NINES MAC KENZIE, M/M KEN FENNEY, TRACY MAC KENZIE, DIDI
7 CHOCO MOUSSE THOMAS, CLAIRE BALLARD, ERYNN GEORGE, SHANE
8 JERSEY BOY S B S FARM, . ALFANO, JENNIFER SCHOELLKOPF, SUSAN
9 PRIMERO SLEEPY P RANCH LLC, PLETCHER, PETER ARENDT, DANIEL
10 ARGENTUM BASALDUA, ALTA PLETCHER, PETER ARENDT, DANIEL
11 TELL ALL BAKER, SUSAN PLETCHER, PETER ARENDT, DANIEL
12 LIBRETTO MOYER, ALLIY PROVOST, TAMARA PROVOST, TAMARA
Photo Credit: Hayley Barnhill led the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby from start to finish aboard Safari at the Spring Gathering Charity Horse Show. Photo By: Rebecca Walton/PMG.