Katy, TX – Only one point separated Nada Wise on Stevie Ray and Jennifer Alfano on Ivy League at the end of the first round of the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, sponsored by Leaving One Out LLC, but a seamless handy round lengthened Wise’s lead and cemented the win for Stevie Ray on Friday evening, March 31, at the 77th Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in Katy, TX.
Alfano and her own Ivy League finished in second while third place went to Alexandra Ansteth and Folklore, owned by Amberlea Tribble.
Alfano and Ivy League were the penultimate pair to return for the handy, and they laid down a well-executed trip over the Kevin Holowack-designed course to earn scores of 86 and 83, plus two high option bonus points added to each score, for a second-round total score of 173 and an overall score of 351.
“I was nervous because Jen Alfano put in a fantastic trip, and so did Alex [Ansteth], so the pressure was on!” said Wise, who was the final rider to return for the handy round, as she had finished the first round on a score of 179, only slightly ahead of Alfano’s score of 178.
“I was going to play it safe a little bit just because this is really [Stevie Ray’s] first derby in a year,” continued Wise. “When I walked in, he was just so confident. So, I decided to take a couple of the higher options, and he just jumped out of his skin. He was incredible.”
Wise and the 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding earned scores of 86.5 and 87, plus two high option bonus points, for a second-round score of 175.5 and an overall score of 356.5 for the win.
“My favorite thing about Stevie Ray is the feeling he gives you over every jump; he tries so hard,” said Wise. “He always jumps in such great form and with such great power. We imported him a couple years ago, and he had to have a little break last year. So, this is kind of his comeback, and he made a great comeback. He’s just incredible to ride. He has so much scope, so much step; he’s really a lovely animal.”
Wise, who operates Rendezvous Farm out of Tomball, TX, is a frequent competitor at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center and a longtime Pin Oak Charity Horse Show competitor.
“They always try to make it so special, and we get to see new faces come in. It’s always good to see new faces, new horses come in,” said Wise, who has a group of 19 horses, including junior and amateur mounts, competing at this year’s show. “We always have a crowd. It just feels like everyone likes to support each other when they’re here which is a great feeling.”
Also earning a derby win on Friday was another frequent Great Southwest Equestrian Center exhibitor, Mindy Coretz of Eighteen Acres Farm. Coretz rode Chagall and Rise Above to a one-two finish, respectively, in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby held on Friday afternoon.
“Chagall is a horse that we’ve had since he was young,” said Coretz of the 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding, owned by her sister, Amy Coretz. “We’ve developed him from the very beginning stages of his hunter career. We took him through the green ranks, and my sister showed him starting in the 2’6” modified type classes and now is very successful on him in the adult hunters. He’s a funny one. He is always very energetic and sort of a wild child, but he’s brave; he’s beautiful. He’s simple in so many ways; he’s definitely a horse we can count on.”
For full results of both the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, visit HorseShowsOnline.com.
Running through April 16 at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, TX, the 77th Pin Oak Charity Horse Show features top hunter, jumper and equitation competition while benefitting the Texas Children’s Hospital. Highlight events of Week I include the $30,000 Texas Children’s Hospital Grand Prix at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 1.