With the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship just around the corner, top hunter rider Jennifer Alfano has kicked it into high gear, recently wrapping up a streak of top finishes at Equifest II in Chicago, Illinois.
Alfano rode three horses in Equifest's USHJA International Hunter Derby: Miss Lucy, Miramar and the 2013 USHJA International Hunter Derby Champion, Jersey Boy. Alfano has won $936,559 in lifetime hunter rider earnings, and Jersey Boy has been USEF Horse of the Year three times.
With all three horses making the cut to return for the Handy Round, Jersey Boy sat the highest in third with a score of 187. Miramar, with a score of 169, rounded out the top six with Miss Lucy following in seventh. Just a few points separated the top spots, making a flawless Handy Round essential for the win.
As the Handy got underway, it was Kelley Farmer and Alfano who were vying for the top spot. 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 exhibited his trademark handiness around the course, delivering a beautiful round to earn scores of 8 for handiness and added 208.5 for a total of 395.5.
Next, Farmer and Taken galloped the track, earning handy scores of 8 and 9, also adding 208.5 to their score for a total of 397.5. The duo moved into the lead just 2 points ahead of Alfano and Jersey Boy.
Farmer's slight lead would hold, leaving Alfano and Jersey Boy with an impressive second-placed finish; Miramar placed fifth and Miss Lucy sixth.
Additionally, Alfano experienced success in Equifest's $1,000 USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Stake, taking a 1-2 finish with Castle and The Exchange, respectively. She also continued her winning streak into the open hunter divisions, taking home multiple victories and championships as she prepares for the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship with her mounts.
In the Pre-Green Hunter 3' division, Alfano and The Exchange took home all four available blue ribbons. In similar fashion, Alfano rode Castle to four wins, effectively sweeping the field in the Pre-Green Hunter 3'3 division.
Continuing her success, Alfano rode Candid to top finishes in the Second Year Green Hunter section, taking home two blues, a second and a fifth.
Alfano also competed two derby-finals-bound entries in the High Performance Hunter division: Miramar and Miss Lucy. With Miss Lucy, Alfano earned first, second, third and two fifth places. In the saddle on Miramar, Alfano placed second, third, fourth and sixth twice.
Alfano's top finishes throughout Equifest II promise more success to come during the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship from August 13-15 during the Bluegrass Festival at the Kentucky Horse Park.
For more information about Jennifer Alfano and SBS Farms, please visit http://www.sbsfarms.com.
Special thanks to Phelps Media Group for the press release and to Andrew Ryback and Chicago Equestrian for the photographs.