Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 20, 2022 – The grand finalé of the Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship took center stage Saturday night in the Rolex Stadium. The world’s best hunter horse-and-athlete combinations stepped up to the challenge to showcase their talents and vie for a share of the prize money totaling more than $300,000. After 41 total trips between the Section A and Section B rounds, Hunt Tosh and Cannon Creek emerged victorious after dominating the competition from the second they walked into the arena Friday morning. Hannah Isop and Red Ryder were awarded Reserve Champion honors, while Tosh and his other mount, Autograph, rounded out the top three. First-time competitor in the International Hunter Derby Championships, Colin Syquia had the unique distinction of being fourth overall while also being named the Champion of Tier II Section B with Front Page. Stella Wasserman and Skyhawk were Reserve Champions of the Section B class.
Sixteen Section B horse-and-rider pairs started the evening off by entering the arena in reverse order of their scores. Course designers, Alan Lohman and Danny Moore (USA) set an impressive track for the occasion, consisting of a particularly challenging bounce element on the far end of the stadium, four high option fences, and multiple options for riders to choose their own route and show their handiness by making tight turns throughout the 12-effort course.
The final rider to try their hand at the handy round in Section B, Syquia and the 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Cynthia Sulzberger, entered the ring prepared to hold onto their leading position. They jumped effortlessly to the day’s new high score of 306.50 points earning them an overall total score of 582.35 points and over $26,000 in prize money from today’s competition alone.
Immediately following Section B, Section A rode under the lights to contest for the biggest title in Hunter competition. After the classic round Friday morning, the 2021 champions, Tosh and the Wheeler Family’s 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding, led the way with a first-round score of 289.00 points. The crowded Rolex Stadium grew silent for the first time all night as the last to tackle the course cantered boldly by the stands making a sharp left-hand turn to the first vertical on-course look effortless.
Allowing Cannon Creek to open his stride up during the long bending lines that swept around the course, Tosh was also able to demonstrate his mount’s rideability by invisibly collecting the gelding when needed, in order to make hairpin turns with ease, allowing him to showcase the handiness of his mount. As they landed from the final oxer, set at an impressive height of 4’6”, the stadium erupted with cheers as Tosh’s family, friends, and fans anxiously awaited his scores. Earning well-deserved scores of 92 points, 93 points, and 95 points the champions secured a two-day score totaling 606.00 points, 20 points above the reserve, and taking home over $42,500.
Sitting in the third position on the leaderboard after the Classic Round, Isop and Tracy Freel’s 18-year old Selle Francais gelding were up for the challenge. “[The course] was a little tricky for me,” mentioned Isop. “There were a lot of left turns which were harder for my horse. It tends to make him play a little bit.” This being their fifth year in the championships, the seasoned pair showed just how trusting they were of each other despite the challenging elements and left it all in the arena. “I really just wanted a good clean trip,” comments Isop. “I wanted to have some fun with [Red Ryder] and I really felt like we did that. He is 18 and I wanted a good one for him.”
The combination did just that and posted scores of 90 points, 88 points, 89.25 points giving them a two-round total of 586.50 points. With only John French and Tosh left to go, the pair’s score would secure them at the very least, a third-place finish.
Prior to his ride on Cannon Creek, Tosh piloted Ceil Wheeler’s 9-year-old Warmblood gelding around the handy course. Relatively young compared to some of the other mounts, Autograph took the pressure with ease as Tosh led him to scores of 91 points, 89 points, and 90 points giving them a two-day total of 583.25 points to ultimately secure third place at the end of a highly competitive class.
Preceding Sections A and B’s Championship Rounds, 23-horse and rider pairs competed in the Platinum Performance/USHJA $10,000 Derby Challenge. Each pair that had not made the final cut for the Tier I or II classifications entered the Derby Challenge with a clean slate, having no points carried over from the Classic Round. The top 12 riders shared the $10,000 prize, with Dorthy Douglas and MTM Lolah LOL taking the lion’s share. The 9-year-old Westphalian mare, owned by Abigail Davenport, scored the class high score of 295 points. Kristen Bumpus piloted Diadora to a second-place score of 282.00 points, while Timothy Maddrix took home third place aboard Shutterbug with a score of 281.50.
The exciting competition from the Platinum Performance / USHJA Hunter Derby Championship has officially concluded for the 2022 competition season. Regularly scheduled hunter, equitation, and jumper competition will continue at the Kentucky Bluegrass Festival Saturday morning at 8 am. The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will host its biggest feature class of the week in the Rolex Arena for the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships Top Three
Hunt Tosh- Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Champion
On winning for his second year:
“It is fabulous. First of all, that horse deserves it. He is such a wonderful horse and he has been so good all year. To come here and be able to win both rounds is really really special and he did it last year. He truly deserves it. He tries so hard every time we show him.”
On Cannon Creek’s program:
“I am lucky and I can’t say enough good things about that horse. We don’t show him that much. The horse tries so hard every time we show him. He is super careful, brave, and his balance is wonderful. He is everything you look for in a hunter. We show him sparingly and he comes out and is phenomenal on his own. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
On the team behind the scenes:
“Daniel Geitner surprised me and drove back here from his home in Aiken to surprise me and be here tonight to set jumps. So I am so lucky and I have to give him some thanks for showing up. I am so lucky. I have the best owners anyone could ever ask for, my daughter Maddie, KJ the barn manager, and my wife. Everyone behind this horse roots for him and cheers him on. The guys in the barn all root for this horse and I couldn’t ask for a better team. It is truly so special.”
On the handy elements of the course:
“Early on we were watching, trying to see what the judges were looking for. They awarded some different things and it was spread out a little bit with the handy points. You could go either direction to the bounce and there were different departure options from that and obviously the other option jump. So you had to pick out what suited your horse best but also what the judges were looking for. I was a little lower on Autograph so I went back in and tried to carry a little pace and take a couple of risks to see if it would improve my score with Cannon Creek. I think the horses truly won the class but it was a great course as well.”
On the course:
“It was a great course, I thought it was spectacular. Both days it rode nice and they were inviting to the horses and they jumped beautifully. There were so many quality rounds and trip after trip they got better and better.”
Hannah Isop – Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Reserve Champion
On her round today:
“I really just wanted a good clean trip. I wanted to have some fun with him and I really felt like we did that. He is 18 and I wanted a good one for him.”
On Red Ryder:
“He made me a hunter rider. It has been a long partnership which is rare in this world. I have been incredibly lucky to have such a partnership and relationship with him. I can always go into that class and know he is going to jump his heart out. He might be a little happy doing it and a little bit playful but that is an incredible feeling knowing that he is going to give it his all.”
On the course:
“It was a little tricky for me. There were a lot of left turns which were harder for my horse. It tends to make him play a little bit. It worked out and it was a beautiful course. I live for this class every year, as Colin [Syquia] said, it is an honor to be here and they do a spectacular job with it.”
Colin Syquia – Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Section B Champion & Section A fourth place
On his first Derby Finals and prize money:
“Just being here is an honor with these top riders and these horses. It is my first derby finals and my horse’s first time so it is just an incredible experience watching them on the live streams before and being a spectator and to actually have a chance to go up against them is an honor. It is a great program that we are able to win this money.”
On the course:
“Being a rookie I thought it was amazing to see what the course was like and what it asked you to do. Hunt [Tosh] is right, it really showed the horses off and it just brought out the quality in these animals and they just jumped their hearts out. Round after round with higher and higher scores, it was just amazing.”
On Front Page:
“We did our first international derby in Wellington and he had just started doing his first year then. We tried one in the international ring and he is made for it. The bigger the stage is the better he goes and I knew it when he was 3-years-old. He is truly a winner. When we brought him over from Europe I started him in the Baby Greens and we have brought him all the way up.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Final Score
1. Cannon Creek / Hunt Tosh / The Wheeler Family / 289.00 / 317.00 / 606.00
2. Red Ryder / Hannah Isop / Tracy Freel / 283.75 / 302.75 / 586.50
3. Autograph / Hunt Tosh / Ceil Wheeler / 272.25 / 308.00 / 583.25
4. Front Page / Colin Syquia / Cynthia Sulzberger / 275.85 / 306.50 / 582.35
5. In The Know / Samantha Schaefer / Madeline Schaefer / 272.65 / 296.00 / 568.65
6. MTM Hand Him Over / Elizabeth Boyd / Rebekah Warren / 271. 25 / 297.25 / 568.50
7. Lafitte De Muze / Amanda Steege / Cheryl Olsen / 271.00 / 297.35 / 568.35
8. Milagro / John French / Kent Farrington LLC / 287.00 / 279.50 / 566.50
9. Zanzibar R Z / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 269.85 / 287.00 / 556.85
10. Attendu De Lannois Z / Augusta Iwasaki / Augusta Iwasaki / 265.00 / 290.25 / 555.25
11. Skyhawk / Stella Wasserman / Laura Wasserman / 264.25 / 289.00 / 553. 25
12. Laskano / Jimmy Torano / Isalou Inc. / 278.50 / 289.00 / 553.25