Lexi Graham and Landmark Victorious in USHJA National Hunter Derby

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Devon, PA - July 9, 2011 - Following today's exciting $10,000 Canine Partners for Life Mini Prix, riders returned to the Dixon Oval in the evening for the $3,000 Johnson Horse Transportation USHJA National Hunter Derby. The event was one of the highlights for the Brandywine Valley Summer Series, presented by Taylor Harris Insurance Services, at the Devon Show Grounds. The winning combination was Lexi Graham and Landmark owned by Julie Graham of Kintnersville, PA.  
Graham and Landmark had scores of 89 and 90 after the first round. They came into the second round in third place, but with a picture-perfect round including, a spectacular brush box jump, the duo scored an 89 and an 89.5, which gave them a grand total of 357.5. They jumped to the top of the leaderboard and led tonight's victory gallop around the Dixon Oval.

"He's great for the derbies, he really takes care of me so it makes it a lot of fun," noted Graham. "The first round was pretty nice, it was a little rough, but the second round is usually where we have a lot of fun and are able to take some chances," Graham added, "The ring looks great, I'll definitely be back next year!"

Close behind in second was Kim Zindel-Buzby and Black Jax owned by Ann Nelligan of Newtown Square, PA, with a total score of 357. After scores of 92 and 90.5, the pair came into the handy round on top. A flawless second round course earned them scores of 83.5 and 91.  

"My friend asked me to ride Black Jax a couple of days ago so my plan was to come in and just be consistent. This was his first derby and he stepped up to the plate and was fantastic!" said Zindel-Buzby, "It was a lot of fun and the course was beautiful. Louise [Serio] has done a fantastic job. It's great to show at this facility and we were thrilled to come because it is close to our home. We can't wait to come back next year."

Third place was awarded to Zindel-Buzby and Ocean Reef, who is owned by BF Associates LLC of Philadelphia, PA. They scored an 88 and an 86 in the first round and entered the second round in fifth place. Scores of 88 and 87 in their second round with a total of 349 moved them up to the third place position. Zindel-Buzby is the professional rider and trainer at Wyndsor Farm.  

In fourth place after the first course as well as at the end of the night was Molly Sewell and Van Gogh, owned by Victoria Leiweke of Tampa, FL, with scores of 87, 88, 83, and 84.  Fifth place was awarded to Telluride, owned and shown by Addie Evans of Marcellus, NY. With scores of 88 and 86 in the first round, they came into the handy round in sixth place. A 79 and an 87.5 moved them up to take fifth place honors.

Rounding out the top six was Davenport, owned and shown by Dani DiPietro of Owings Mills, MD. They received scores of 84, 85, 80, and 82.  Finally, in seventh place was Furst Laugh owned and shown by Devon Yacka of West Chester, PA. Yacka is trained by Louise Serio and earned scores of 83, 84, 78, and 79.  

Kenny Krome and Mike Reinheimer were the course designers for tonight's feature event, testing riders with fences set at 3' and 3'5'' that simulate hunt country. The top 12 riders had the opportunity to return for the handy round, which added a hand gallop and a trot fence as major tests over the course.  The handy round started with a direct approach to fence one and a rollback turn to fence two. Horse and rider combinations then traveled left to a three obstacle broken line, ending with a brush box jump. After the line, there was a quick right-hand turn to a trot fence to end the course.

Earlier in the day, the Amateur-Owner Hunters took center stage in the Dixon Oval. For the second week in a row, Bridget Hallman of Oyster Bay, NY, and Do Tell took home the Grand Champion Amateur-Owner Hunter title for their performance in the Amateur-Owner 36 & Over Hunter division, sponsored by Kimmy and Patti Risser. They also scored the division's Circuit Championship for their excellent effort.

"Do Tell was great this week, he is always such a good boys and he tries so hard," smiled Hallman. "He jumped great and he was really relaxed; we love riding in this ring, it's so much fun. Winning is great, but when you earn a Circuit Championship consistency really means a lot, which is very important, so it's a big honor."

Grace Stuntz also had a great day, earning the Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunter Circuit Championship with Saving Grace and the Amateur-Owner 18-35 3'3'' Hunter Circuit Championship aboard Fitzhugh.

The Brandywine Valley Summer Series will come to a close tomorrow after the conclusion of the Junior Hunter and Pony Hunter divisions. Jumper riders will have the opportunity to showcase their skills during the $3,500 M&T Bank High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic and the $2,500 M&T Bank Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic. The event will feature a local day of competition on Monday, July 11, 2011.  

For more information about the Brandywine Valley Summer Series, please visit http://brandywinevalleysummerseries.com/.

Photo Credits: Lexi Graham and Landmark won the $3,000 Johnson Horse Transportation USHJA National Hunter Derby at the Brandywine Valley Summer Series.   
Kim Zindel-Buzby and Black Jax placed second in the $3,000 Johnson Horse Transportation USHJA National Hunter Derby at the Brandywine Valley Summer Series.
Bridget Hallman and Do Tell won the Grand Champion Amateur-Owner Hunter Title at the Brandywine Valley Summer Series. All Photos By: Rebecca Walton/PMG.