Victoria Colvin Makes History with El Primero as Three-time Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Champion
Always a force to be reckoned with in the derby ring, Victoria Colvin once again proved her mastery of the handy course and made history as a three-time winner of the Platinum Performance/ United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) International Hunter Derby Championship on August 18, this time topping the scorecard by nearly 25 points in the 2019 installment aboard Meralex Farm, Inc.’s El Primero. Entering the day as the frontrunners following the classic round, defending champion Colvin and El Primero extended their lead ahead of 35 of the nation’s best hunter contenders with a textbook trip that earned them near-perfect scores. Colvin and El Primero left Kentucky with nearly $45,000 in prize money and the coveted status as the 2019 champions, marking the professional’s feat in program history as the first rider to claim the championship rosette aboard three different horses.
Seasoned veterans as the course designers for the championship, the team of Alan Lohman and Danny Moore once again constructed an expert handy track for the returning contenders. Presenting 13 efforts that included four high-option fences, the pattern featured a two-stride combination, one-stride combination and a horseshoe jump, in addition to a number of inside turn options to aid competitors in showcasing handiness. Following the first day of riding, 36 of the best-scoring duos were invited back to the ring for one final chance at the title over the strategic course, but the championship excitement was truly seen as the top seven qualifiers took centerstage.
In seventh position after the classic phase, Patricia Griffith and Callie Seaman’s Diamante pushed themselves to the top of the leaderboard with a score of 302 as the first partnership to break the 300-point threshold, finishing on a composite score of 568 to jump to the lead by 15 points at the time. As challengers continued to contest the pattern, their scores would fall short until West Coast representative Nick Haness and Lindsey Schiefelbein’s Verdict logged a noteworthy score of 302, matching that set forth by Griffith and Diamante. Combined with their initial tally of 276.50, Haness and Verdict eclipsed the leading pair thanks to a two-round score of 578.50 as the second-to-last exhibitors, putting the pressure on Colvin and El Primero to deliver.
Ultimately, none of the scores from the previous 35 horse-and-rider combinations mattered, as Colvin and El Primero shattered Haness’ lead by 24.5 points to set themselves apart as the clear 2019 champions. Garnering base scores of 92, 94, and 95, plus 12 additional points for successfully navigating the high option fences and 26 handy bonus points out of a possible 30, the talented team landed on a chart-topping 319 points in the handy round and a cumulative score of 603 to emerge as the clear 2019 Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship winners.
“It feels amazing. He went in there and was the best he could be. I couldn’t have done it without the team was behind him,” Colvin states about her mount. “It’s been a special night. I was a little bit [nervous]. After Peter went, he was still a little bit impressed and then I thought ‘Uh oh, Primo needs to be really good’. He really rose up to the occasion. It never gets old. I’ve been showing in this derby for a long time. To win it once, and then now a couple of times, the feeling never gets old. It’s so amazing with the crowd here and the feeling is great. It never dies down. Today was just as special as the first time winning.”
In his Derby Championship debut, Haness claimed the reserve championship honors with Verdict, and as the highest-placing of the Tier II pairs based on winnings throughout the qualifying period, he added to his total prize money thanks to the Tier II rider bonus. Griffith and Diamante held onto third position to round out the podium. With 562.50 points, California-based Jenny Karazissis and Michelle Cobb’s Really were awarded fourth place overall, and Jimmy Torano aboard Isalou Inc.’s Argentus concluded the 2019 edition of the finals in fifth position with a two-day point total of 562.