Lexington, KY - August 15, 2014 - After an injury months ago that sidelined the 11-year-old Warmblood gelding Inclusive, rider Tori Colvin has the successful mount back in winning shape. She showed him off today during the Classic Round of the USHJA International Hunter Derby, gaining a score of 95 from one judge panel, and two other scores in the 90s, as the two-day competition got underway at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. Jimmy Torano, on his seventh mount of the day produced results with Mindful procuring second place. Last year's winner, Brunello, claimed third place with rider Liza Boyd just recently returned to riding after maternity leave.
Despite an injury earlier in the season, Colvin said she was not worried about how Inclusive, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, would perform today. "We showed him at Devon and at Junior Hunter Finals, but we wanted to keep him ready for this, and we thought he'd be perfect to go right into Derby Finals," she explained.
Colvin thought the course was open and beautiful and not too spooky for a first round. Her favorite jump, a high-option oxer with wagon wheels, proved challenging to many other pairs, but Colvin knew Inclusive would love it because the jump was somewhat ramped, a specialty of Inclusive.
Tomorrow's Handy Round will feature increased difficulty and new challenges but Colvin isn't feeling the pressure. "I'm feeling amazing going into tomorrow. I've never had a really good round going into the handy, so it's very different being on top going into tomorrow," said Colvin. "I'm just going to go in and see how he feels and how it all plays out."
Jimmy Torano, who grabbed second place on Mindful, a Hanoverian gelding owned by Glefke & Kensel, took over all seven of Kelly Farmer's mounts when she broke her collarbone several weeks ago. "I've never ridden any of these horses, I barely know them. I watched some videos of them last week just to see how they go. Larry called me last week and asked me to do this and I thought he was out of his mind," said Torano jokingly.
Torano's other mounts had some bad luck, but everything came together on his last ride of the round and the third to last entry in the class. "They say to save the best for last and going in I thought that Mindful was the horse that could do it and I thought he was my best mount of the day," said Torano. "I think there was a lot of pressure riding on me, but because it was Mindful I was very relaxed. That horse could jump the course by itself, he's that easy to ride. I've ridden thousands of horses but he's the most straightforward, direct and easy horse I've ever sat on."
With a solid mount taking him to the Handy Round, Torano is looking forward to what he thinks will be a more challenging ride tomorrow. "Today the course wasn't too imposing and nothing was crazy high, but I'm sure for tomorrow the screws will be turned. I think tomorrow will be more of a rider's course and we'll just have to try to ride to the top," said Torano.
As last year's Derby Finals winner Brunello, the 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding, went into the ring, anticipation was high. Not only was the mount carrying hopes for a repeat winner, but his rider and partial owner Liza Boyd was only just returning to riding after being on maternity leave. Despite the challenges, Boyd and Brunello displayed their athleticism and claimed third place, positioning themselves well for the rest of the Final.
Despite his age ("He has his driver's license now," quipped Boyd), Brunello is feeling great she said. "He had a nine-month maternity leave as well," said Boyd. "But he actually feels fitter than ever, even better than last year."
In order to keep up with Brunello, Boyd was incredibly eager to get back to riding after giving birth and even snuck in a few rides. "I have tortured myself to get back into shape, I'm not kidding," she said. "Two weeks after the baby I wasn't really supposed to be riding, but I did sneak in a little ride while everyone was away at a show. I was cantering around and doing a couple jumps and my mom drove by and yelled at me. My daughter caught me putting on a riding pants one day and called my husband."
Boyd said the hard work was all worth it because she really wanted to be fit for Brunello. "Who knows how many more years he has, he doesn't owe me anything, but he feels great," said Boyd.
Tomorrow the hunters will return to the Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park for the Handy Round and the USHJA International Hunter Derby Final during the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show.
For more information on the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows, including this week's Bluegrass Festival Horse Show visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.