The hunters took center stage Friday evening at the first annual Temecula Valley National Horse Show as they showcased their skills in the $10,000 Brookway Stables Hunter Derby. With the evening’s high score after two rounds of competition, it was Nicolas Haness aboard Screenplay claiming the top prize and leading the lap of honor.
The $10,000 Brookway Stables Hunter Derby brought the premier hunter contenders to the Grand Prix Arena for a shot at the pot, with Haness and Screenplay ultimately leading the class from start to finish. Boasting a first round score of 94, the pair entered the handy portion as the early frontrunner, with Haness also navigating to the second and seventh positions headed into the final ride on Virginia Fout’s Cristiano and Enchantment Farm, LLC’s Afterglow, respectively.
Sitting in third was Hugh Mutch with the ride on Sarah Hellman’s Marble Arch with a score of 87, trailed closely by Jacqueline Attwood Dupont and her own Brave in fourth position with 86 points.
With a cut-off score of 75, the top 12 ranking duos returned to the ring for a chance at either retaining the lead or usurping the leaders. In both the classic and handy round, the unique option fence posed three opportunities: take the left-hand smaller side for no additional points, the middle higher section for 2 bonus points or the inventive duck jump taken from the cross country course on the right-hand side for 4 added points.
In the second phase of competition, course designer John Manning’s track asked athletes to maneuver a number of tight turns, as well as trot fence seven, followed by a hand gallop immediately to fence 8 for a bold finish to the final track.
Regarding the days derby course, Haness felt it offered a lot of unique options to really show off your horse. “I thought it was a great derby, it was super fun. They added some challenging elements, like the bending line right off the bat. It was all set to a hunter pace, so we could do a gallop and showcase a nice hunter. They did a nice jump with the duck option – I’ve never had that in a hunter class before, so it was exciting to jump that and added an unsure-ness to the first round, but if you took a chance you got some bonus points.”
Sitting in sixth position after the first round, Fout and her own Carma were the first to make a significant move up the ranks, adding an 89 to the classic round score of 82 to take over first place with only a few pairs left to ride. Four more contenders took a turn around the ring, but none were able to overtake them until Haness, who has been dominating the hunter ring all week, made his way back in the irons on Screenplay.
“[Screenplay] has won a lot this year,” said Haness of the handsome gray. “We showed him on the East Coast a little bit in Wellington, [Florida], and he won plenty. He has been awesome all week and is a really great horse all-around.”
As the last to return, Haness and Screenplay managed to lay down a foot-perfect trip to retain their spot atop the leaderboard, garnering a score of 84 in the handy phase to clinch the title with cumulative points of 178, just a handful more than reserve champion Fout and Carma, who accrued composite marks of 171 from the judges panel. Jaime Krupnick and Georgy Maskrey-Segesman’s Conux improved upon their initial 78.5 score with an 87 to leapfrog into third place overall with 165.50 points.
1. Screenplay / Nicolas Haness / Bonheur LLC / 94 / 84 / 178
2. Carma / Virginia Fout / Virginia Fout / 82 / 89 / 171
3. Conux/ Jaime Krupnick / Georgy Maskrey-Segesman / 78.50 / 87 / 165.50
4. Evermore / Rebecca Bruce / Rebecca Bruce / 79 / 84 / 163
5. Brave / Jacqueline Attwood Dupont / Jacqueline Attwood Dupont / 86 / 76 / 162
6. Meant To Be / Karli Postel / Karin Binz / 78 / 83 / 161
7. Coco / Gracie Marlowe/ Margeau Spitzer / 86 / 76 / 160
8. Persuasive / Gracie Marlowe / Curtis Holding Inc. / 79 / 74 /153
9. Cristiano / Nicolas Haness / Virginia Fout / 90 / 45 / 135
10. Afterglow / Nicolas Haness / Enchantment Farm LLC / 80 / 44 / 124
11. Burberry / Brooke Morin / Strasburg Morin Inc. / 75 / 43 / 118
12. Marble Arch/ Hugh Mutch / Sarah Hellman / 98 / 30 / 117