Wellington, Fla. – Mar. 26, 2022 – To cap off a thrilling week of hunter derby action, all eyes fell on the nation’s top hunter derby combinations as they navigated the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. Set on the grass field, 29 entries came forward to test a track built by Ken Krome (USA). Krome’s first-round course featured elements from the hunt field and allowed competitors to keep a forward pace from fence to fence with very few related distances. The course presented four high options for riders to take for one bonus point each. At the conclusion of the two-round class, it was none other than Jimmy Torano aboard the Isalou, Inc.-owned Laskano who claimed their fifth International Hunter Derby victory as a pair.
The scores in the preliminary round proved extremely competitive, with only two-and-a-half points separating first place from third going into the handy round. Many of the Winter Equestrian Festival’s top hunter riders found themselves among the top 12 set to return for the handy round, but emerging with the top score at the conclusion of round one was Friday’s victor, Torano and Laskano, who claimed the leading score of 187. Fresh off their win in Friday’s $15,000 USHJA International Hunt & Go Derby, Torano piloted the 10-year-old Westphalian gelding around the course flawlessly, impressing the judges and showing off the young horse’s scope and securing the pole position for returning in round two.
The course was shortened to the handy track for the top 12 competitors from round one to take on in reverse order of scores. The course featured a long gallop to a tall high-option vertical, a tight rollback to prove handiness, a trot jump early on in the course followed by a large high-option oxer, a vertical-oxer two-stride directly to a bounce, and a large oxer to complete the course. Greg Crolick set the bar high in round two with Calisto, capturing a score of 195 to set a two-round total of 368 to beat early on. Hannah Isop and her longtime partner Red Ryder challenged Crolick shortly after, bringing the handy round high score up to 210 and securing the new lead with a 384.25 total, holding the top position until Torano stepped back into the ring. Kelley Farmer and her first handy round mount, Meaningful, owned by Emma Vandenhouten, then captured a handy round score of 196 and a total of 384.25, but the famed hunter rider proceeded to beat herself with her second mount, Story To Tell, owned by Larry Glefke, with a handy round effort of 187.5 for a total score of 373.5.
Torano and his successful mount, who have now won four USHJA International Hunter Derby classes together during the WEF 2022 season, plus one in December prior to the beginning of WEF, cantered onto the grass field with power and forward momentum, taking each jump perfectly in stride and bending around the corners and tight turns gracefully and smoothly. The judges awarded the pair a handy round score of 206, bringing his total score to 393 and awarding him the win. Isop and Red Ryder ultimately rode away with second place honors, while Farmer rounded out the top three aboard Story To Tell.
Winter Equestrian Festival hunter athletes look forward to closing out the winter show season during WEF XII with a WCHR Week designation, with competition kicking off Wednesday, March 30.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Jimmy Torano – winner, $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
On his handy round plan:
“Unfortunately for the ones later in the class, the power went out. So we didn’t really know what the scores were and what to expect. I basically rode my round. I knew Hannah [Isop] was dynamite in the handy round. Her horse jumped out of its skin and she pulled herself way up. Even though I came in in the lead I rode my round. I didn’t let up anywhere. I pulled out all the stops everywhere and I think I took every risk there was to take. I think I got nine handy points because I could have easily lost the class with a point here and a point there. I just thought I was going to be as handy as I could be. I took a different route to fence one, coming off the left lead, which I liked. He jumped it well. He was spot on; the horse followed me the entire way from start to finish. He never had to do one lead change through the entire course which was nice.”
On Laskano’s secret to winning:
“He’s just a good horse. I can count on him. In the handies he follows me every step of the way. He just doesn’t really let me down. Opposite of Kelley [Farmer], she barely knows her horse and I know mine like the back of my hand. I know him well and he knows me well. If I think left he goes left; if I ithink right he goes right. Had I not known him I wouldn’t have ridden the same round. I think all three of us are very competitive riders.”
On the level of competition:
“When you go in a class like this, even when you go in on a horse that’s inexperienced, we go in to win. Kelley was on a young green horse she didn’t know, but she basically said, ‘Come get me.’ Both of them really put the pressure on me. Kelley’s horse threw a shoe before the second round and I heard them calling me to move up and I said, ‘I’m not moving up.’ I was schooling right next to Kelley when she came back and her horse was jumping over the standards. I didn’t know what Kelley did [in the ring]; I didn’t know her scores. I went in for my round and I was nervous. Both these girls are very competitive, we compete against each other all the time. Red Ryder is one of the best derby horses of all time and Kelley’s is going to be.”
Hannah Isop – second place:
On her handy round plan:
“I had the advantage of coming in with the pressure off of me, so I just went in and rode my round. I decided to have some fun and be as handy as possible. My horse was jumping out of his skin and turning tight. I think he went as well as he could go.”
On preparing Red Ryder:
“Ryder is an older, experienced horse so I don’t show him often, however he loves the grass field, so I usually do a warm-up class earlier in the week. We got to ride out here on Thursday, so that was our prep. He loved it. He thrives on big grass fields; it’s where he shines.”
Kelley Farmer – third place
On her new mount, Story To Tell:
“Mine is a bit green. Yesterday was his first derby ever. Last week was his first week horse showing in this country. I didn’t really know what to expect. He’s a beautiful jumper and brave but this is new to him. I wasn’t as handy as I could have been and he got a little lost after the trot jump to the oxer and had a hard rub, but that wasn’t his fault, it was mine. I was thrilled with him. He walked into that field for his first time and was amazing. For his second horse show I was really proud of him. He’s been here now four weeks. There’s not much of a partnership; I don’t know him too well, but he’s very talented and I think he’ll be a really cool horse. He’s got a beautiful style and he’s brave.”
$50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total Score
- Laskano / Jimmy Torano / Isalou, Inc. / 187 / 206 | 393
- Red Ryder / Hannah Isop / Tracy Freels / 174.25 / 210 | 384.25
- Story To Tell / Kelley Farmer / Larry Glefke / 186 / 187.5 | 373.5
- Meaningful / Kelley Farmer / Emma Vandenhouten / 176.5 / 196 | 372.5
- Bacchus / Michael Britt-Leon / Kelly Sims / 182.25 / 188 | 370.25
- Calisto / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 173 / 195 | 368
- Unbelievable / Jacob Pope / Stefanie Mazer / 181 / 187 | 368
- Ocean Road / Ariana Marnell / Marnell Sporthorses / 179 / 180 | 359
- Copernicus K / Tiffany Morrissey / Dr. Kathryn Withers / 177 / 180 | 357
- Cascartini / Havens Schatt / Ken and Amy Wexler / 170 / 181 | 351
- Milagro / John French / Kent Farrington LLC / 185.5 / 148 | 333.5
- Gabriel / Victoria Colvin / J T Farm / 181.75 / 98 | 279.75