Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 20, 2021 – Friday morning in the Rolex Arena saw the start of one of the most famous hunter competitions on the annual calendar, the Platinum Performance / USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship. With a list of 86 athletes on the roster, the order of go was a who’s-who of the top hunter riders from all corners of the United States. After successfully navigating an impressive 12-obstacle course designed by Alan Lohman, Hunt Tosh and Cannon Creek topped the field with a score of 291, followed by Victoria Colvin and El Primero, who was awarded a score of 284, and rounding out the top three was Scott Stewart and Hudson who earned a score of 279.5.
The International Hunter Derby Championships is the gold standard for hunter competition. The format of the championships was made to highlight the most stylish and qualified horse and rider combinations, who have been entered in the program throughout the course of the competition year. All qualified and entered horses compete in the first round of competition over a Classic Hunter course featuring International Hunter Derby style fences, including height options. Based on scores in the Classic Hunter round, horse-and-rider combinations advance to one of two possible second rounds: 1) the Handy Hunter Round (split into Sections A and B) or 2) the Derby Challenge that will feature 42 athletes. The top 25 overall horse-and-rider combinations from the Classic Hunter round will compete in the Handy Hunter Round as part of Section A. The top 15 Tier II horse-and-rider combinations who did not qualify in the top 25 overall will compete in Section B/Tier II.
After an already incredibly successful week, Tosh once again found himself at the top of the podium aboard Cannon Creek, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by The Wheeler Family, after they put forth a flawless round during Section A, securing an outstanding score of 291. The dynamic pair most recently won the High-Performance Working Hunter Championship at the Blowing Rock Charity I Horse Show, putting them in a good position going into the Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals. Cannon Creek made his presence known the moment he stepped foot into the ring with his eager expression, floating canter and huge scope.
Victoria Colvin set the pace at the beginning of the class with El Primero, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Bryan Baldwin and Meralex Farm, earning a high score of 284. The pair were awarded for their forward pace, consistency and beautiful form over each obstacle. These two are no strangers to the International Hunter Derby scene as they have found themselves at the top of the podium in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby 2* at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) 9. Colvin and El Primero also made history at the 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals after being awarded the championship title and helping Colvin etch herself in the record books as the first athlete to pilot three different horses to the championship honors.
Seasoned hunter and derby professional, Scott Stewart, found himself in the top three on Hudson, a 9-year-old Westphalian stallion owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, after scoring a 279.5, just 4.5 points shy of fellow competitors Colvin and El Primero. Hudson is no stranger to the High-Performance Hunter and International Derby scene, as he has secured several top placings at some of the countries most prestigious shows, including WEF, Kentucky Horse Shows, Upperville Colt & Horse Show and the Brandywine Valley Summer Series. Stewart and Hudson caught the attention of the judge’s eye as they galloped their way through the technical course putting forth a flowing and consistent round.
The final championship round of the Platinum Performance/USHJA International Derby Championship will take place on Saturday afternoon beginning at 3:00 pm in the Rolex Arena with the Tier II riders. If you are interested in streaming the Platinum Performance USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship or the International Hunter Derby, visit horseandcountry.tv. Use code USHJA15 for 15% off a year’s subscription.
To learn more about the Platinum Performance/USHJA International Derby Championship, click here.
Regularly scheduled Bluegrass Festival hunter and jumper competition will begin at 8 am. Livestream links are available on the home page of www.kentuckyhorseshows.com
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Hunt Tosh – Winner of Round 1 of the Platinum Performance / USHJA International Hunter Derby
On his round today:
“It was a nice course and fun. My horse went beautifully. I did one class earlier in the week just to kind of check where he was and he jumped spectacularly both times. Tori put in a beautiful trip and I got lucky to beat her, so it was a good day.”
On Cannon Creek:
“He (Cannon Creek) is newer to me. We did not buy him until the end of Florida this year when we purchased him from Emil Spadone. Cassie (Kahle) showed him once in Ocala. She did a Derby on him and she won that. Since then, we have had him for only six hunter shows but he is very straightforward, super scopey, and is a blast to ride.”
On preparing for today’s class:
“Once again I am lucky that KJ, the young woman that works for me, rides this horse before the class. I woke up this morning and sat on him for about 10-minutes and thought that it was a bad idea and she got back on him and fixed it so we are going with that same ride again tomorrow! I will let her do her thing and hope tomorrow night goes well.”
On the Cannon Creek’s owners, the Wheeler Family:
“I couldn’t be luckier with my owners. Douglas, KenKen, and Cecil are great owners and very supportive. They let me make a lot of the decisions about when and where we show and things like that and obviously it is a team effort, but they trust us and our decisions and I couldn’t ask for better support. When the horses go well, it is fun to be able to produce for them too.”
Victoria Colvin – Second place in the Platinum Performance / USHJA International Hunter Derby
On El Primero:
“He was perfect. We went very early in the lineup when it was still a little foggy and he didn’t care. He has not shown since WEF 12 so I also did a class earlier this week like Hunt. He just went out there and was perfect.”
On jumping El Primero in Round 1:
“He was jumping amazing, he felt better this week than he ever has. Louise Serio has been helping me and she was really excited about how he was going too.”
On El Primero’s owner, Brian Balwin and Meralex Farm:
“I second that Tosh’s sentiments, I would not be able to do these classes without my owners, because none of my Derby horses are my own. It is a great thing to be able to have their support.”
Scott Stewart – Third place Platinum Performance / USHJA International Hunter Derby
“We just got Hudson at the end of Florida this year and he has only done a couple of Derby’s. I was really happy with him today. I thought the course was inviting and nice and it seemed like most horses jumped well. Overall, I am really pleased.”
On the course:
“It rode how I thought it would. I was worried about the last jump, because of how big it was, so I jumped the low side and I still knocked it down on my other horse!”
On his first time competing in the Platinum Performance / USHJA International Hunter Derby
in a few years:
“I was a little nervous because I have not done it in so long, but my horses give me a great deal of confidence and I am enjoying it and just in it to have fun.”
On Hudson’s owner, Dr. Betsee Parker:
“Betsee is amazing! From ponies to junior hunters, to horses for me, she really enjoys it and I think it is a once in a lifetime ownership and friendship. She is simply the best.”