The fourth annual Chicago Hunter Derby was a huge success this weekend with two days of top hunter competition at Annali Farm in Antioch, IL.
Held on September 8 and 9, 2012, the Chicago Hunter Derby helps raise money for charity through the philanthropic group Chicago Equestrians for a Cause. All proceeds from the weekend will benefit The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago as well as the USHJA Foundation and the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation.
The event held two fantastic classes over two beautiful days in the country. On Sunday, Jennifer Alfano rode SBS Farm’s Jersey Boy to victory in the $50,000 Chicago Hunter Derby, presented by CN. On Saturday, Tammy Provost won the $5,000 Abba Vet Supply National Hunter Derby aboard Abby Musser’s Catani.
The weekend’s classes were judged by Ken Smith, Geoff Teall, Bob Crandall, and Julie Winkel. Teall also co-course designed with Bobby Murphy. Teall and Murphy set a great course for the competitors full of unique and beautiful natural obstacles.
The $50,000 Chicago Hunter Derby, presented by CN, saw many of the nation’s best horses and riders compete and it was Jennifer Alfano and Jersey Boy, two-time winners of the class in 2009 and 2010, who came out on top to make it three victories in the history of the class. Alfano and Jersey Boy are on a major roll, fresh off their win in the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals in August. The Chicago Hunter Derby is a 2012-13 Member Event of the USHJA International Hunter Derby Series.
Alfano and Jersey Boy, a ten-year-old Hanoverian gelding, could not be beat this weekend. They led from the start of round one and returned for a second round to maintain the lead. They earned an impressive 383.5 overall.
Alfano also finished second in the class riding Helen Lenehan’s ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Miss Lucy. Alfano and Miss Lucy finished with a 365 total.
Alfano described the weekend with a big smile. “It was great; it was so much fun,” she beamed. “It is my favorite venue of the whole year because it is so beautiful. The field is beautiful and the course is always awesome. Rush and Carl Weeden and Lynn Jayne, they just do so much to make it a really special event. It is a really fun weekend always - win, lose or draw - so winning on top of that makes it even better obviously. The courses were great and my horses were awesome, so it was a perfect weekend.”
Alfano detailed her rounds with Jersey Boy, stating, “They actually split it up over two days this year, so the first round was Saturday afternoon and he just felt great; he loves it there. He loves that field and he always has. He is such a good galloper anyway, so out in a big field like that it really shows off his strength I think. The first day was awesome; he won the first round the first day. Then on Sunday, the jumps in the handy were huge. We were walking the course and they were just mountains, but it was the same thing, he just was awesome. I just picked up a gallop at the beginning and kept going and he was perfect.”
Coming off of a big win in the finals for the 2011-12 series, Alfano felt very confident in her horse this weekend.
“He is an amazing horse and he just seems to keep getting better,” she acknowledged. “He is only ten. He has done a lot in a short amount of time.”
Another great horse for Alfano is Miss Lucy, with whom she finished second. Describing her rounds with Miss Lucy, Alfano stated, “She was great. The first day she was really good. She ended up third in the first round and then yesterday she was really on and she jumped beautifully. It is the same thing with her; she has such a big stride and a big gallop. She loves that field too. The hardest thing about her is staying with her in the air. There were a couple jumps where I was reaching for braids! She sort of jumped me loose because she jumped so high, but she was great.”
Finishing behind Alfano and her top two mounts were Peter Pletcher and Savvy, owned by Ashley Cross, to the third place prize with a score of 350. Pletcher has only been together with Savvy for a month, but the nine-year-old German Sporthorse gelding stepped up strong in the Chicago Hunter Derby. Pletcher rode the horse once before for his old owners in a derby at Horse Shows by the Bay, and Pletcher feels that the derbies may be his specialty. “He may make up to be one of the best ones,” he said.
This was Pletcher's first time competing at the Chicago Hunter Derby. “I thought it was amazing. They did such a great job putting on the event. It was first-class all the way, and they made such an effort to do anything they could for everybody. It was over the top with excellence.”
Pletcher acknowledged that he doesn't often get to compete on a rolling grass field. “It is definitely different riding on grass. We rarely do that, but all in all it was good footing. The course was good, and it was definitely the biggest options I've jumped anywhere. We just came from the (USHJA International Hunter Derby) Finals, so that's saying a lot after Steve Stephens course! This was definitely a rider's course.”
Orchard Lake Farms’ Carson and Greg Crolick placed fourth in the competitive class. Tammy Provost and Wendy Hofmeister’s Contemporary placed fifth, while Lisa Goldman rode Brooke Saltzman’s Ariano to sixth place. Last year’s winner Taken, now owned by Jessica Stitt, was ridden to seventh place by Holly Orlando.
Tammy Provost also had a great weekend showing in the $5,000 Abba Vet Supply National Hunter Derby. The three-foot class was a great new addition to the competition last year and featured lots of talent in 2012. It was Provost and Catani, owned by Abby Musser, who led the victory gallop. Provost’s junior student, Alliy Moyer, finished a close second riding her horse Elliot.
Catani is a seven-year-old gelding that has been showing in the Adult Amateur division and was competing in his first hunter derby this weekend. Provost described, “He is very easy and very good. He is just so simple and so smooth. It is so nice to have a pre-green horse that can walk out there and handle something like that. He just acts like he has been doing it all of his life.”
“We love going out in the field,” Provost said. “The farm is so pretty. The course was fantastic; Bobby did a great job. He just puts so much detail into the course.”
Provost also showed the first and second year of the Chicago Hunter Derby classes, but missed the event last year and was thrilled to be back and get a win.
“It is just special, most of all because it is on the grass and I can only think of one other class all year that I get the chance to do that,” she noted. “I think that is what I really like about the class. The field is great and it is also a little hilly, so it is a little bit of a challenge.”
“I hope that this was a good learning experience for Catani. We hope to start him in the 3’6” derbies next year,” Provost concluded.
The Chicago Hunter Derby and Chicago Equestrians for a Cause would like to thank their sponsors, exhibitors, spectators, and staff for another fantastic event and look forward to seeing everyone again in 2013. For more information, please visit http://www.chicagohunterderby.com
Final Results: $50,000 Chicago Hunter Derby presented by CN
1. Jersey Boy, Jennifer Alfano, SBS Farm
2. Miss Lucy, Jennifer Alfano, Helen Lenahan
3. Savvy, Peter Pletcher, Ashley Cross
4. Carson, Greg Crolick, Orchard Lake Farms
5. Contemporary, Tammy Provost, Wendy Hofmeister
6. Ariano, Lisa Goldman, Brooke Saltzman
7. Taken, Holly Orlando, Jessica Stitt
8. NLF Shakespeare’s Rhythm, Peter Pletcher, Nordic Lights Farm LLC
9. Bases Loaded, Holly Orlando, AM Free Inc.
10. Casino, Holly Orlando, Golden Oaks Farm Inc.
11. The Spy, Caroline Weeden, Ila Lemonis
12. Ivory Coast, Peter Pletcher, Eva Bisso
Final Results: $5,000 Abba Vet Supply National Hunter Derby
1. Catani, Tammy Provost, Abby Musser
2. Elliot, Alliy Moyer, Alliy Moyer
3. Montreal, Holly Orlando, Le Reve Farm
4. Santerno, Tammy Provost, Brenda Christenson
5. Risque, Tammy Provost, Rebecca Horwitz
6. Talan, Freddie Vazquez, Meg Gehron
7. Julian, Catherine Hanlon, Maggie Levy
8. Peter Pan, Emma Heise, Emma Heise
9. Devotion, Alexandra Lieberman, Jessica Warren
10. Mach Schnell, Emma Sargent, Emma Sargent
11. Panama, Danielle Rewiako, Kandis Wrigley
12. Anytime, Mackenzie Wray, Makim Holdings Inc.
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