Equifest II celebrated Derby Day on August 2 at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois. The day featured the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby for the hunters and a $30,000 Jumper Speed Derby for the jumpers.
Top hunter riders included Jennifer Alfano and Kelley Farmer, who also came for World Championship Hunter Rider week during Equifest II.
Sixteen horse-and-rider combinations showed off in the SmartPak Grand Prix arena vying for the top honors. Linda Andrisani and Holly Orlando were the panel 1 judges, and Dee Thomas and Tucker Erickson were the panel 2 scores.
With the USHJA Hunter Derby Finals approaching, August 13-15 in Lexington, Kentucky, derby riders had their game faces on, as this was the last derby they would ride in before the finals.
The Grand Prix arena allowed for a nice galloping course and several inside turn options for the handy rounds. Several long run single jumps permitted riders to show off a gallop.
Jennifer Alfano had three horses in the International Derby, Miss Lucy, Miramar and the 2013 USHJA International Derby Championship winner, Jersey Boy. Alfano has won $936,559 in lifetime hunter rider earnings, and Jersey Boy has been USEF Horse of the Year three times. They are definitely serious contenders for the derby finals again.
Kelley Farmer had six horses in the International Derby, and she was the first hunter rider to earn $1 million dollars in the hunter divisions. To date, Farmer has earned $1,586,302 in hunter rider earnings, more than any hunter rider in history—but Farmer has yet to win a derby final.
The elite few who have won the prestigious hunter derby finals include, John French and Rumba, Hunt Tosh with Lone Star, Lilly Keenan and C Coast Z, Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy and Liza Towell Boyd with Brunello, who are the only pair to win the finals twice.
After the classic round at Equifest, all six of Farmer's rides returned for the handy, with Dalliance on top with a first-round score of 190 and Taken in second place with 189. Mindful and Symbolic were also in the top six.
All three of Alfano's mounts returned also, with Jersey Boy in third with 187. Miramar and his new star design, which replaces the classic checkerboard on the horse's hindquarters, with a score of 169, rounded out the top six. The top three spots were just a few points apart, so the handy round would determine the winner.
The scores went higher and higher as the rounds returned from low score to high. Miramar and Alfano added a 192 to their first round for a total of 361. Farmer's Symbolic added a 205 from the second round to total 377. Mindful scored 204 to add to their first round for a 384. Then it was up to the top three: Jersey Boy, Taken and Dalliance to battle it out.
Jersey Boy was handy and beautiful, showing off his trademark gallop to scores of 8 for handiness and added 208.5 for a total of 395.5.
Next, Farmer and Taken galloped the track with handy turns and handy scores of 8 and 9, also adding 208.5 to their score, for a total of 397.5, now just 2 points ahead of Alfano with Dalliance left to go.
Dalliance returned with a gorgeous round until the third-to-last jump, where he tripped hard after landing after the end oxer, but made a good recovery. One set of judges awarded an 80 as a base score and the other set of judges awarded a 50, knocking Dalliance out of the top ribbons.
In the end, it was Farmer with the win by 2 points with Jessica Stitt's Taken. Alfano and SBS Farms' star Jersey Boy took second place and Farmer again with Mindful for third.
Special thanks to Phelps Media Group for the press release.
$25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Equifest II
1. Taken/ Kelley Farmer/ Jessica Stitt
2. Jersey Boy/ Jennifer Alfano/ SBS Farms Inc.
3. Mindful/ Kelley Farmer/ Kensel LLC.
4. Symbolic/ Kelley Farmer/ Glefke & Kensel LLC.
5. Miramar/ Jennifer Alfano/ Jennifer Alfano
6. Miss Lucy/ Jennifer Alfon/ Helen Lenahan
7. Dalliance/ Kelley Farmer/ Kelley Farmer
8. Point Being/ Kelley Farmer/ David Glefke
9. Extraordinaire/ Tommi Clark/ Stephen Borders
10. Cascaron/ Holly Shepherd/ Margaret Camp