June 18, 2016--The $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby kicked off a grand Saturday morning at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park at San Juan Capistrano. After topping the first round, Alexis Taylor Silvernale and Skyhawk, owned by Aleron, LLC, continued to impress both judging panels in the Handy Round for the win in a challenging class. The honorable Bill Ellis and Christina Schlusemeyer judged as Panel One, and Scott Williamson sat with Mickey Maestro as Panel Two.
Thomas Hern of Plymouth, MA, once again set the course. A big, bold track, with four solid high options, the early morning course was challenging. More than a dozen of the thirty-four entries had a rail in round one.
Fifth to gallop in, Silvernale and the handsome bay Skyhawk sailed around smoothly, taking all four high options, and earning scores of 82+4 and 84+4 from each panel respectively, for a total of 174. The dynamic duo edged out the derby team who went first in the order, Tip Top (Gail Haft, owner) and Jenny Karazissis. Taking two high options, Tip Top scored 84+2 and 82+2, for a total of 170, ultimately second in the round. With a score of 168, and also mastering all four high options, Jenni McAllister and Legis Venice (owned by LegisEquine.com) were third in the Classic Round.
Both Silvernale and Karazissis qualified two mounts for the Handy Round. Along with the aforementioned two, Silvernale sat ninth on Leia Klingel's Vesper and Karazissis sixth on Burrata (Nicodemus Farms, owner). Four junior riders made it into the top twelve. Returning to demonstrate their handy skills were Nina Vogel on her own Jamestown, Gabriella Cinquini and West Street (owned by John Bragg), Elli Yeager aboard Alant and Brooke Morin riding Highpoint Farm's Boss.
The Handy Round created its share of shake ups in the standings, but the top two held fast with solid scores. With ten efforts, the course required riders to trot fence four and hand gallop fence seven, plus offered four high options.
The high scoring junior award went to Vogel who earned impressive scores in the Handy for a total of 183 and an overall total of 342 for fifth place. Jenny Karazissis made the biggest jump in standings; scoring a pair of 88s and 19 total handy points, she moved up three places to finish third on Burrata with an overall total of 360.5. Returning on Tip Top, Karazissis shined again, holding her lead with scores of 86, 87 and a total of 18 handy points for a final score of 363.
With a four point lead going in, Silvernale once again took all the high options on her High Performance Czech Warmblood Skyhawk. Smooth and slick, taking the inside tracks, when she cleared the last fence the crowd burst into a congratulatory cheer. She finished with an outstanding score of 193.5 and a total of 367.5 for the victory.
Silvernale was elated with seven-year-old's first derby win, no doubt with more to come. About the ride she said, "He is a dream. Big. Powerful. The feeling in the air is unlike anything I have ever felt."
Congratulations also go to the other top rides and participants. Top class awards included the Equitex Trainer Award to Silvernale of Aleron Stables, Balmoral Farm Owner Award to Kathy Taylor, and premier grooming company Shapley's presented the Best Turned Out Award to Burrata and groom Luis Velasco.
The Plaid Horse High Score Junior Hunter Rider Derby Award went to Nina Vogel and the One K Helmets High Score Amateur Hunter Rider Derby Award went to Robert Peters II.
Silvernale recognized Skyhawk's ('Buff' in the barn) talent from the first time she sat on him. "I bought him from Bobbie Reber in February back at Thermal. A friend of mine told me that I had to go see this horse. He was so amazing, I only rode him for about ten minutes and had him vetted," she explained and went on with a big smile, eyes sparkling. "He has been champion ten times in a row in the High Performance division. This was by far the biggest thing he has done. I just can't say enough good things about him."
The June Classic II highlight classes conclude tomorrow with the $30,000 Blenheim June Classic II Grand Prix, presented by ACE Equestrian. Next week's June Classic III offers a USHJA National Hunter Derby on Friday, an exciting, new Six Bar Challenge, presented by Park Place Foundation on Saturday, the Zone 10 Pony Challenge on Saturday and Sunday, as well as a Markel Insurance Grand Prix and Interactive Mortgage U25 Qualifier on Sunday.
$10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
Place - Entry - Name - Rider - Owner - First Rd/Second Rd/Overall Score
1. 395 - Skyhawk - Alexis Taylor Silvernale - Aleron, LLC - 174/193.5/367.5
2. 295 - Tip Top - Jenny Karazissis - Gail Haft - 170/193/363
3. 658 - Burrata - Jenny Karazissis - Nicodemus Farms - 163.5/197/360.5
4. 173 - Black Jack - Tommi Clark - Stephen Borders - 158.5/184/342.5
5. 530 - Jamestown - Nina Vogel - Nina Vogel - 159/183/342
6. 154 - Captain 33 - Katie Taylor - Naomi Houillon - 164/172/336
7. 292 - Legis Venice - Jenni McAllister - Legisequine.com - 168/165/333
8. 398 - Vesper - Alexis Taylor Silvernale - Leia Klingel - 156.5/174/330.5
9. 224 - Small Kiss - Hannah Brown - Celine Claessens - 164/162/326
10. 853 - West Street - Gabriella Cinquini - John Bragg - 155/166/321
11. 378 - Boss - Brooke Morin - Highpoint Farm - 149/106/255
12. 730 - Alant - Elli Yeager - Elli Yeager - 149/67/216