A field of 28 of the top horse and rider combinations gathered on the very last day of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair to take the 2011 USHJA International Hunter Derby title back to their hometown, but it was not in the cards.
Both the 9-year-old Jersey Boy ridden by Jennifer Alfano and owned by SBS Farms, and the 13-year-old Brunello, owned and ridden by Liza Towell Boyd maintained their 1st and 2nd place positions throughout both rounds of competition. Jersey Boy bested Brunello by 6 points in each round posting scores of 184 and 200 respectively.
Junior rider Lillie Keenan, 14, from New York City rode Chansonette Farm LLC's 11-year-old gray gelding C Coast Z to a round 1 total of 176 to end up 3rd in the first round and 5th overall after the handy. At the other end of the spectrum, the oldest horse in the competition was 16-year-old Midnight Date ridden by his owner Rachel Geiger of Malvern, Pennsylvania.
The unseasonably crisp weather had it's effect on Jersey Boy says Alfano. "He made me a little nervous in the first round. He was a little frisky, but then in the Handy round he felt unbelievable. He was really on. He's a funny horse, when he wants to win, he wants to win, and he intended to win today. He's such a great Handy horse always. He has such a loose natural gallop, and he turns so easily. He's one of those horses that can gallop and turn at the same time, which is rare." That ability was tailor made for today's course. "I thought the course was great today. The first one was really nice, it walked like it was going to be fairly easy, but I think there were a lot of problems. I liked the Handy, there were plenty of options in the Handy, both inside and around," says Jen. Susie spoke to the size of the jumps and J.P. Godard's course. "The verticals on most of the jumps were set at 3'9" and the bigger options were 4'3". I love the fact that he allowed the riders to choose their own track rather than dictating one."
Susie Schoellkopf owner of Jersey Boy was thrilled with today's win. "It's hard to win them back to back, and its hard to win as much as we've won with him, but Jen is such a great rider and she knows her horses so well they're hard to beat. They're a great pair."
The win was particularly poignant for Jen and Susie as the class was dedicated to the memory of Charlie Weaver. "It means so much, Charlie was such an amazing rider and person. The fact that this class is in his memory is really special," says Alfano. "He was a huge supporter of Jen and Jersey Boy," adds Susie.
As Alan Keeley plays Taps on the long horn to call Devon 2011 to a close, Devon President Wade McDevitt confirms that the 115th Devon Horse Show and Country Fair was one for the record books........literally......exceeding the records previously set in 2010.