Hunter Mania Highlights the Ocala Winter Finals

Randall Weiseman Equine

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Jersey Boy and Jen Alfano
Hunters had their chance to shine all weekend at the Ocala Winter Finals when the $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Dietrich Insurance Featuring Walsh Harness & Saddlery and the $5,000 Pony Commotion took the stage at HITS Post Time Farm, in Ocala, Florida.

The Main Hunter ring was the perfect setting for the $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by Dietrich Insurance Featuring Walsh Harness & Saddlery on Saturday night as a standing-room-only crowd surrounded the ring to watch Jen Alfano ride Jersey Boy past 61 entries to win the blue.

Alfano, from Buffalo, New York, had the ride for owner Susie Schoellkopf of SBS Farm, and collected $3,000 in first-place prize money. Alfano has several wins in other $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derbies, presented by Dietrich Insurance Featuring Walsh Harness & Saddlery, including last year’s class at Ocala when she rode Bright Star LLC’s Rock Star to the blue.

“I have some horses that are great at doing the Derbies,” said Alfano. Jersey boy was fabulous! He is seven years old and does the Regular Working Hunters. He is really starting to come into his own.”

The field of 61 horse/rider combinations in the first round was trimmed to a final field of 12 who were asked to come back for the second round. The first round was a regular classic course and the second round was a handy hunter course that included a trot jump, roll-backs and option jumps, all under the lights in HITS’ majestic Main Hunter ring. During the second round, judges were able to award bonus points for brilliance and handiness.

Jersey Boy and Alfano achieved the top score in both the first and second rounds, and received nine bonus points to achieve an overall score of 391 to win the class by nearly 60 points.

“It was a runaway,” said Schoellkopf, referring to the high scores Alfano received. “So many people have stopped me at the horse show and said they were going to get the video from her handy round and learn from it.”

Also excelling in the Derby were Oliver de Upatoi and Ian Silitch who was riding for Paige Flournoy. The pair finished in second place.

Third place went to Chase Boggio and Czech-Mate LLC’s Dahlila to capture the yellow ribbon.

Pony Commotion

Sunday morning was “Super Bowl Sunday” for the ponies at HITS Ocala when the $5,000 Pony Commotion Hunter Classic kicked off in the Grand Prix ring.

Taylor Ann Adams, from Leads, Tennessee, guided Don Stewart’s pony Mokoo Jumbee past 17 starters to capture the title in this inaugural class.

Adams, who trains with Don Stewart and Bibby Farmer Hill, scored an 88 in the first round and wowed the judges with a 90 in the second round to capture the blue.

“It’s one of my favorite classes,” said Adams. “I did the class in Saugerties (last summer) and it’s so cool that the ponies get to gallop around in the big ring!”

Mokoo Jumbee is currently being leased by Dana Rizzo, but she graciously sent the pony to Adams to ride in the special class. “I couldn’t have done it without the pony, and it was so nice of her (Rizzo) to send it down here for me to ride. He is a really cool, laid back pony. He walks around here like he owns the place.”

Chloe Reid rode Benlea Aristocrat to the red ribbon and Anna Rossi rode One More Time to a third place finish to round out the list of top three finishers in this unique class.

Show jumping at HITS Ocala continues next week for one final week with the Ocala Celebration. The week will be highlighted by the $100,000 DeLuca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group on Sunday, March 15, to conclude the 2009 Ocala Winter circuit.

The Ocala Winter Celebration will also feature the $25,000 Team Barber Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper High and $15,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Low Classics, as well as the $5,000 Adult Hunter Classic on Saturday night. The season closes out with the $25,000 Marshall & Sterling Children’s/Adult Jumper Classic and the Parade of Champions on Sunday- a prelude to the feature $100,000 Deluca Toyota Tundra Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group.