Lexington KY - May 14, 2011 - This evening's feature event at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show was the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by Dietrich Equine Insurance and Charles Owen. The class began at 7p.m. in the Rolex Stadium at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park. Twenty riders show cased their mounts for the chance to take home the winning title and the final check.
Tonight's courses were designed by Bobby Murphy and judged by Kim Dofrman, Randy Mullins, Bobby Reper, and John Roper. Jennifer Alfano took home the victory aboard Jersey Boy and secured sixth place with Miss Lucy. Young rider Victoria Colvin put in impressive performances aboard Inclusive and earned the second place honors in tonight's competition. The third place prize was awarded to Sarah Mechlin and Yes Indeed.
Although rain showers threatened, round one of tonight's exciting competition had clear skies with the sun setting in the background. The top twelve riders with the highest scores from round one advanced to round two for the handy round. Riders entered the arena for their handy round lowest score to highest, based on first round scores. The handy round required riders to execute a hand gallop and a trot jump. Judges awarded bonus points based on the level of difficulty chosen by riders.
The first rider to set the bar was Jennifer Alfano aboard Miss Lucy owned by Helen Lenahan. After her solid first round with points for all four of the higher options, Alfano entered the arena with scores of 79 and 82. Alfano started her handy round with a tight turn to the first fence and kept a fluid pace throughout the course. She finished with two more tight turns to the last two fences. Her efforts aboard Miss Lucy earned her scores of 84 and 87 with 6 and 8 bonus points and an additional four for the higher option fences. Alfano and Miss Lucy earned sixth place for their efforts in tonight's competition.
Scott Stewart and Carlos Boy entered the arena just one round after Alfano, with scores of 82 and 85 from round one, and chose a different track to fence ten in the handy round. Stewart and Carlos Boy took all the higher options and approached fence ten from the left side instead of the right side, creating a new route. The pair was awarded two scores of 86 and 8 and 9 bonus points from the judges. Stewart's scores held up to take the fifth spot.
Victoria Colvin and Scott Stewart's Inclusive navigated the course following Stewart's example and approached fence ten from the left as well. She had a very nice tight turn the first and last fence and jumped all four of the higher options. Colvin had scores of 85.5 and 91 from round one and Judges awarded Her scores of 88 and 90 for her handy round with two sets of 10 for bonus points. The impressive pair took home the second place prize after their impressive rounds.
Colvin has been riding the First Year mount since December and is going to compete in the Junior Hunters with him. She said, "I am very pleased with my rounds and my results. I liked the course, it was very nice because it was big and it was fun. I didn't think I was going to go inside during the handy, but I did and the jumps showed up nicely." Colvin added, "Inclusive was amazing. He's really easy, it's just a loop in the reins nice ride, and really easy. This was my best result in a derby so far."
The rain set in for Brian Walker and Garfield, the next on course with first round scores of 84 and 89. Walker and Steeplechase Farm entry took all the higher options, but didn't execute some of the tighter turns and struggled to get to the second to last fence, but had a solid round. The duo received handy round scores of 81 and 90 with 5 and 8 bonus points. The pair took home fourth place honors in tonight's competition.
Sarah Mechlin and Yes Indeed, owned by Olivia Weaver, were the next to navigate the handy round course. They earned two scores of 88 in their first round. The duo jumped all the higher options, but had a fast and hard landing at fence ten in the handy round. The pair received scores of 89 and 85.5 with 4 and 8 bonus points. Mechlin and Yes Indeed took home the third place ribbon for their efforts.
Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy, owned by SBS Farms Inc., were the last to enter the arena. They came in with an eight point lead after their round one scores of 91 and 93. The pair set a confident and bold pace with tight turns to every fence. Alfano jumped the four higher options and executed the tight turn to the last fence exceptionally well and it paid off. The unstoppable team secured the top spot with scores of 89.5 and 87 with 7 and 9 bonus points.
Alfano commented, "My horses were great. Jersey Boy was great tonight. The first round he felt unbelievable, he just felt really on. I love showing here; it's the best facility."
Jersey Boy is the 2010 Horse of the Year and a two time Derby Series Champion. "There's really no pressure anymore with this horse," explained Alfano. "He's a once in a lifetime mount, such a special horse, at this point he doesn't owe anyone anything so there is really no pressure. It's just all about having fun with him."
Alfano continued, "In the first round, turning to three, the in-and-out was by the in-gate early in the course, he sort of thought for one second about being naughty there, but he got right back on track and he was awesome. The handy round, I had one little mistake, but I felt like he really galloped everywhere, he was open and galloping and he just felt great. I love being here, and I love everything about it."
The top twelve riders returned for the presentation ceremony. All the riders were in good spirits and enjoyed a victory gallop around the Rolex Stadium to conclude the evening's events. Tomorrow, the hunter competition will continue in the Stonelea Arena during the Kentucky Spring Horse Show with the presentation of championship and reserve championship honors in the Junior Hunter divisions. Next Wednesday will mark the start of the Kentucky Spring Classic, which runs through May 22, 2011.
For more information about the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
Photo Credit: 1)Jennifer Alfano 2) Jersey Boy and Jennifer Alfano at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. Photo By: Heather Bellock/PMG.