Brunello and Boyd Defend USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals Title

Sunday, August 17, 2014
Posted by Ann Glavan for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Brunello and Boyd during their winning handy round.
Brunello and Boyd during their winning handy round.

Lexington, KY - August 16, 2014 -"I feel like it's a bit of a dream, like pinch me. I'm still a little bit in shock." That is what the winner of the 2014 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals had to say after her finish, and it is no wonder Liza Boyd thought winning derby finals twice in a row aboard Brunello was a long shot. She gave birth to her second child just two and a half months prior to the competition, giving her­ a very tight timeline to prepare herself and her horse Brunello, who is co-owned by Janet Peterson.

"I definitely had a plan, a little bit of a psychotic plan," Boyd said with a laugh. "June 12,­ I rode for the first time, and I had the baby May 30. I really wanted that horse to jump for two months before the class so I started maybe a little early." My mom caught me and was not too excited, but I felt fine," Boyd continued. "I really didn't want anyone else to jump him. I wanted him to have a good solid two months of jumping fitness."

Once her crazy plan was underway, Boyd said her expectations of herself and Brunello at Derby Finals changed the more she worked with the horse.

"Honestly, I thought in the beginning after I just started back riding I really just want to be top ten. That's my goal. I just had a baby. Then a week after that I was like definitely top three," Boyd said at the press conference, eliciting a good laugh from second place finisher Jennifer Alfano. "I've got to do top three. I'm feeling a little bit better, top three we're going to up this goal a little. Then a little bit more recently I said, 'I'd really like to win.'"

Back-to-back champions Brunello and Liza Boyd.
Back-to-back champions Brunello and Liza Boyd.

Boyd did just that, out-jumping the competition over a challenging track with very large fences. "I think all of us sitting here are lucky that we were all on a lot of scope. At the end of the day you need scope," Boyd said of the top placing horses. "A lot of the derbies throughout the year you can get away without having a lot of scope, but I think tonight we were all really glad that we could ask on them. They could step up to the plate." 

Boyd certainly reached her goals set throughout the summer, and the competitor finishing second could not be happier for her. Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy performed brilliantly in the show ring to capture the reserve title, jumping up the ranks from seventh place, though Alfano assured that their warm up was anything but pretty.   "He didn't school well, which is usually a good sign for him," Alfano said of the notoriously quirky Jersey Boy. "Usually the worse school you have the better he is in the ring, which is a little hard mentally in the schooling area." 

Boyd backed up Alfano by recounting the story of a rare occasion when Boyd was not showing herself and got to watch Jersey Boy school.  "I'm always showing in the class with her so I never see her school, so when I was pregnant she had me come over to help her in a derby and I went: 'Oh, Jen, does he always do this? This is terrible!' He's running sideways, and she said 'Well actually, that was pretty good!"

Boyd is not the only one who finds the quirky chestnut gelding warm up antics a little intimidating. Emil [Spadone] was schooling me in Jacksonville one year, and I went in to jump one more jump. Once in a while he just makes a bid, and then he just crashes and rails go everywhere," Alfano explained, "He lays down on the jump and standards were flying, and Emil was like: 'Oh my God, what do we do?' I said 'We should probably just go'," Alfano laughed.

Jersey Boy and Jennifer Alfano during their outstanding handy round.
Jersey Boy and Jennifer Alfano during their outstanding handy round.

Sure enough, Jersey Boy was on his game the moment he stepped into the Rolex Stadium. "He was perfect. As soon as I picked up the canter and locked on the first jump I knew I was really home free," Alfano said. "He just he gave it his all. He just he felt phenomenal. I was thrilled with him, and I was thrilled that Liza won. When she went and she was on top I thought: 'It would be so great if we were first and second,' and we were."

Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy accept their awards.
Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy accept their awards.

Chairman Ron Danta said the competition has been getting better and better every year since the first finals six years ago, and Saturday night's class was no exception. "You know the first year we started this, we didn't have derby horses in the country. We had a mix of equitation horses, jumpers and­ hunters, and it's been an amazing journey to watch the development of derby horses. It's amazing in six years, its brought hunters to such higher level, so I'm very excited and proud of all you," Danta said, motioning to Boyd and Alfano. 

Victoria Colvin and Inclusive
Victoria Colvin and Inclusive

Tori Colvin earned the top honors during Friday's Classic Round aboard Dr. Betsee Parker's Inclusive, but a small error in the handy round was costly and they finished with a total score of 574 to take home the third place award. There was a tie for the fourth place honors between Hope Glynn riding Woodstock, and Morgan Ward riding Comissario. Sandy Ferrell and Mayfair rounded out the top six.    

Ward put in a high handy round score that, when combined with her classic round score, put her in the overall lead after 10 horses had gone, it also made her the Champion Junior Owner. Glynn's handy round on Woodstock scored below Ward's but when the overall scores were tallied Glynn and Ward were tied. 

Hunter competition at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show continues tomorrow with the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Hallway Feeds. To learn more about the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows visit 

RESULTS: 2014 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals
1     817    BRUNELLO     ELIZABETH BOYD     598.400   
2     685    JERSEY BOY     JENNIFER ALFANO     581.250   
3     647    INCLUSIVE     VICTORIA COLVIN     574.000   
4     497    WOODSTOCK     HOPE GLYNN     564.001   
5     51    COMISSARIO     MORGAN WARD     564.000   
6     312    MAYFAIR     SANDY FERRELL     550.500   
7     105    SOLDIER     JOHN FRENCH     542.000   
8     193    POKER FACE     JENNIFER BEROL BLISS     539.600   
9     941    CARAMO     HAROLD CHOPPING     539.250   
10   399    SALTO     JOHN FRENCH     537.000   
11   1131    GENEROUS     DAVID OLIYNYK     536.750   
12   816    ELOISE     ELIZABETH BOYD     535.000