Nick Haness Takes Home Near-Perfect Win in $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Rusty Brown Jewelry

Temecula, Calif. – October 17, 2021 – Hunter competition brought the first week of the Temecula Valley National Fall Series, presented by Interactive Mortgage; to a close with the highlight class of the week, a $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Rusty Brown Jewelry. Twenty-four eager competitors dawned their Sunday best in hopes of claiming the lion’s share of the prize. A mixture of professionals, amateurs, and juniors squared off with their beautifully turned-out mounts. Ultimately Nick Haness and Caldiano returned to the winner’s circle for yet another victory together.

Nick Haness and Caldiano

The professional hunter rider, based out of Temecula, had the upper hand over the field of mixed riders piloting Double Down Farm, LLC’s 11-year-old Warmblood gelding. Haness, who guided Caldiano to a championship ribbon in the  Green 3’6” Hunter division earlier this week, was hoping to keep up the solid momentum Thursday.  With a blue ribbon on his mind, Haness navigated the course with ease, highlighting Caldiano’s scopey jump and fluid movement. With the addition of the four bonus points from taking the high option fences, Haness and Caldiano turned in a score of 94 points in the first round.

Nick Haness and Caldiano

Undeterred by the more experienced professional riders, California Amateur, Megan Camaisa, put up a fight; turning in the third-best score in the first round with an 89 aboard her own 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Oscuro. Sitting just two points ahead in second place following their first course was $10,000 Welcome Stake Winner, Sophie-Simpson Leckie, who rode Breanne Karanikolas’ mount, C’est Moi, to a score of 91. With a total of twelve riders advancing to the handy with a cutoff set at a score of 77 points, and only three points separating first and second place, the win was anyone’s for the taking.

Sophie Simpson-Leckie and C’est Moi

Simpson-Leckie was the first to return for the handy round which featured four high option fences. Utilizing her skills from the grand prix ring earlier this week, she turned C’est Moi on a dime, highlighting the mount’s maneuverability through the several tight rollback turns scattered throughout the course. In hopes of moving up the leaderboard, Simpson-Leckie took all four high options, adding valuable bonus points to their base score. The pair turned in a score of 92 bringing their overall total to 183. Their consistency paid off as they took the early lead.

Megan Camaisa and Oscuro

Waiting at the in-gate to try her hand at the second course was Camaisa. Sitting just two points behind Simpson-Leckie, she knew she had to lay down a more impressive round to bump Simpson-Leckie into the second-place position. She showed talent and poise, fit to rival any professional hunter in the field, turning in a handy round score of 93, besting the current leader’s handy round score. Their overall score of 183 was just one singular point shy of tying with Simpson-Leckie and she settled into second place behind her.

Nick Haness and Caldiano

Haness had only three points on the current leader’s first-round score, not enough room for a comfortable lead. Though their score was in jeopardy of falling short of blue ribbon material, he was intent on putting Caldiano’s skills to the test, challenging the gelding to turn tighter and jump higher. The duo was the only pair to take the rollbacks as tight as possible, prompting one of the judges to note, “Wow, now that is what a handy turn should look like!” It was no surprise that Haness would squeeze another incredible round out of the already talented gelding, but their overall goal to win was solidified when the judges announced their score of 99 points, bringing their overall score to a whopping 193. Haness would take over the lead with a solid ten points more than Simpson-Leckie.

Nick Haness and Caldiano

Competition at the Temecula Valley National Fall Series returns for it’s final week of the year on Wednesday, October 20. Jumpers open the final five days of classes with the $10,000 1.35m Welcome, while hunter riders return for the second week of division competition.


Nick Haness – $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Winner

On Caldiano:
“Caldiano’s career before being a hunter was being a jumper. So throughout the course of this year and the horse shows that he has been to he has become more and more relaxed. I feel like at this show this week he was really calm and relaxed and embodied your typical hunter. I think he is really enjoying his new job.”

On his handy round:
“I had a pretty high lead going into the second round so I didn’t need to do those tighter turns, however, I have some championship shows coming up with Caldiano and it was a good time to practice the more challenging turns in the handy, of course, I wanted to win anyways so I went for it today with him and it really paid off.”

On Nilforushan Equisport Events:
“I love showing here. Ali [Nilforushan] does a great job. The course was designed beautifully and the horses just go really well here. It is a great facility and the horses jump amazing here. There is always solid competition and it is a thrill to be here, and it’s just a bonus that it is close to our home barn here in Temecula. We love showing here.”


$5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby 
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner 
1. Caldiano / Nick Haness / Double Down Farm, LLC
2. C’est Moi / Sophie Simpson-Leckie / Breanne Karanikolas
3. Oscuro / Megan Camaisa / Megan Camaisa
4. Nivelo / Lindsay Ransom / Debra Chambers
5. Fascination / Lindsay Ransom / Mary Drake
6. Celebration / Lindsay Ransom / Mountain View Farms, LLC
7. Instantly / Sarah Cline / Sarah Cline
8. Echezeaux / Chloe Hazen / Chloe Hazen
9. Call It Karma / Amy Kim / Victoria Lacagnina
10. Won Love / Emma Post / Emma Post
11. Dicaprio / Amy Kim / Victoria Lacagnina
12. Morrison / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners, LLC


No Comments Yet

Comments are closed