In the opening class, it was talented hunter professional Jennifer Alfano taking home the top honors while in the day’s pinnacle class, David Jennings once again rose to the occasion, hot off the heels of his win in Thursday’s $5,000 1.35 Florida Horse Park Welcome Stake.
Dean Bataglia put together a fluid and challenging course including three high options which saw 24 original entries. Of those entries, the top 12 scoring combinations were invited to return to the shortened handy round track. The second course offered competitors a chance to show off their partner’s ride ability and consistency offering multiple rollbacks and a trot fence in addition to the high options.
David Jennings entered the ring early in the original lineup but produced a picturesque classic round, opting for all three high options. Judges Jay Mullen and Scott Hofstetter awarded Jennings and Allison Ventura’s Jordantinus a combined first-round score of 173.00 points which immediately sent the pair to the top of the scoreboard where they would remain for the rest of the phase.
The sun was almost set when Jennings once again returned, this time as the final rider, in the handy phase where the top 12 combinations were called back in returning lowest to highest order. He and the 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse stallion (Air Jordan x O.B.O.S. Flower) once again rose to the occasion and bested their original score by 13 points for a handy round total of 186.00 and the best overall score of 374.00 points.
“I’ve only had this horse back in my barn for a few weeks and he was actually previously a grand prix jumper,” Jennings explained. “I took him to a show once before intending to do the bigger jumper classes with him but everyone asked if he was a hunter so I took him over to the hunter ring to see how he would do and he just fit right in.”
“This horse has so much scope that the inside turns to big high options are very simple for him,” he continued. “The biggest thing he needs to understand is to do the tight turns in the handy and not think he is in the jump off of a grand prix, but this was his very first international derby so he’s off to a great start.”
Jennings also took the top two podium placings in the $5,000 1.35m Florida Horse Park Welcome Stake and has his eyes set on success in the $25,000 Florida Horse Park Grand Prix of Ocala on Saturday.
Jennifer Alfano added another top ribbon to her day’s collection by pinning the second place win with Sharon O’Neill and Kathy Chiaf’s 10-year-old Warmblood gelding (Zavall VDL x Unknown) Nolan. The pair returned early and added 186.50 points to their first score of 162.00 for a final total of 148.50. Dorothy Douglas of Flower Mound, TX combined her scores of 171.00 and 176.50 on MTM Exceptional to secure third place just one point behind Alfano with 347.50 points.
Jennifer Alfano and Jefferson
Climb to the Top in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby
At the start of the day, 17 hunter combinations took to Dean Bataglia’s track in the Main Hunter ring for the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Bataglia designed a hunt-and-go format set to challenge competitors at the junior, amateur, and professional levels. In an effort to maintain a flowing class format as well as challenge riders to execute both classic and handy skills in one round, the course was set to allow for a typical classic performance over the first set of obstacles, then challenged riders with handy questions over the final set. Ultimately it was seasoned professional hunter rider Jennifer Alfano who earned the tricolor aboard Jefferson.
Alfano and Kathy Chiaf’s six-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Stolzenberg x Hauptstutbuch Eluna) produced a final score of 175.00 total points to take a five-point lead in the class.
“I thought the hunt-and-go format was a great way to start the day,” she described. “Many of these horses had a long day to get through so it helped move it along for them but it was also a well-done course.”
Alfano and the young gelding have been partnered less than a year with the mount just stepping up to the derbies this summer.
“Jefferson normally does the 3’3” Green Hunter division but he is a very good jumper and smooth going around the course so he has turned out to be quite good at the national derbies,” she finished.
Claire Kellner of Lutz, FL locked in the two runner-up positions aboard Inspiration and Caligua respectively. She and Mindy Carreja’s seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Numero Uno x C’est Sym Bien) racked up a total of 170.00 points for the second place title. Kellner then rounded out the top three with Suzanne Cayatte’s eight-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Casall x La Corofina) falling just a half a point short in 169.50 points.
The $25,000 Florida Horse Park Grand Prix of Ocala will signal the beginning of competition on Saturday, January 9 with 28 horse-and-rider combinations heading into the Grand Prix ring to contest the first track.
$10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
- JORDANTINUS: 2007 Irish Sport Horse stallion by Air Jordan x O.B.O.S. Flower:
DAVID JENNINGS, Allison Ventura
- NOLAN: 2011 Warmblood gelding by Zavall VDL x Unknown
JENNIFER ALFANO, Sharon O’Neill and Kathy Chiaf
- MTM EXCEPTIONAL: 2009 Holsteiner gelding by Casall Ask x Rheinsberg
DOROTHY DOUGLAS, Abigail Davenport
- MTM LOLAH LOL: 2013 Westphalian mare by Los Angeles x Palma
DOROTHY DOUGLAS, Abigail Davenport
- BLUE HARBOR: 2007 Oldenburg stallion by Chacco Blue x Regina Gold
KERI GUANCIALE, Keri Guanciale
- PLAY MAKER: 2014 Oldenburg gelding by Thagoras x Hauptstutbuch
TIMOTHY MADDRIX, Missy Nolen
- QUINTILUS: 2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Unknown x Unknown
JAMIE STRYKER, Paige Moose
- FITZ: 2007 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Numero Uno x Kootje
ISABEL HARBOUR, IMH Equine LLC
- KT LANSINI: 2006 Warmblood gelding by Landos x Traeumerin
SHANE POWELL, Sheree Holliday
- HERCULES: 2012 KWPN gelding by Breezer x Ribera
MADELINE MURCH, Madeline Murch
- CARSTEN S: 2009 Holsteiner gelding by Cassini LL x Marabella R
JENNIFER TATE, Barbara Kravetz
- MACKINAC SCF: 2012 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Diktator Van De Boslandhoeve
SUMMER HILL, DCTM, LLC