In 2012, Jennifer Alfano led the victory gallop aboard Jersey Boy when they secured the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship. Liza Boyd followed close behind with Brunello that year, smiling at her friend’s success.
Last year, Boyd had her time in the spotlight, riding Brunello to the victory, and she duplicated that effort for the 2014 USHJA International Hunter Derby title, while Jen captured the reserve championship.
It was the perfect storybook ending for two friends.
After a 12-month qualifying period, the hunter elite were invited to compete for the coveted 2014 title. With more than 150 qualified entrants, the Derby Championship was held August 14-16 in the Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. The top-25 horse-and-rider combinations returned to tackle the Handy Hunter course. The scores from the Classic Hunter Round carried over into the second day of competition, factoring into the overall score for each pair.
Boyd sat in third place after the Classic Round, while Jen and Jersey Boy held seventh. Jersey Boy performed brilliantly with Jen in the irons. They showcased their skill during the Handy Round, shining underneath the Rolex Arena lights and propelling up the standings. In the end, they jumped up the ranks to claim the reserve championship, with only Boyd and Brunello topping their score.
Jen knew that Jersey Boy was ready to take on the challenge of the Handy Hunter course, his forte, when they were in the warm-up ring.
“He didn’t school well, which is usually a good sign for him,” Jen 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.”
Sure enough, Jersey Boy was on his game the moment he stepped into Rolex Stadium.
“He was perfect," Jen said. "As soon as I picked up the canter and locked on the first jump, I knew I was really home free. He just gave it his all. 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.”
Jen also saw great success outside of the Derby field. She rode her own Candid to the reserve championship in the Green Conformation Hunters with second place in the model, and two red ribbons over fences.
Based out of Buffalo, New York, SBS Farms' Susie Schoellkopf and Jennifer Alfano run one of the foremost show hunter training operations in the country, and travel nationwide to compete in the nation's most prestigious horse shows.
SBS Farms, Inc. continues the proud tradition of the Saddle and Bridle Club as one of the top show stables in the northeast. Schoellkopf is also the Executive Director of the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, which houses both The Buffalo Equestrian Center as well as SBS Farms. Built in 1922, the 160-stall facility is a historical landmark, with its unique English Tudor and Gothic-style architecture.
Press release courtesy of Phelps Media Group International.