Friday welcomed the last two National Derbies in the Marshall & Sterling Insurance Hunter Derby Program: the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Professional and Junior/Amateur sections, sponsored by Makoto Farms. The Grand Prix Stadium hosted Week VII’s $30,000 KASK Grand Prix and the $1,000 Equithrive U25 Jumper Classic.

Nick Haness and Just For Fun Finish on Top in $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby

Nick Haness (Temecula, CA) and Just For Fun finish on top in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Professional section, sponsored by Makoto Farms, with scores of 87 and 94. Liz Hutchinson (Portola Valley, CA) and Inkwell, owned by Tami Cabaniss, received second for their scores of 91 and 89. Carleton Brooks (Encinitas, CA) rode Mae-J Holding’s Gone Country to scores of 88.5 and 91 for a third place finish.

Haness’ ride aboard Just For Fun, owned by Heidi Kane, was not only a successful one, but a familiar one. “I sold him to Nicole and Heidi Kane last year at Thermal, so it was really exciting that I got to show him and that it went really well,” shared Haness. “He’s a horse I have always believed in.”

The first round challenged 38 entries and the pair entered the handy round sitting in seventh place. “I had no intentions of winning, I thought I was out of the hunt,” Haness noted. But after a strong start in his handy round, Haness changed his mind: “I thought, ‘I have a shot now, I think he’s going really well.’ That was a pretty fun feeling.”

Stella Buckingham and Chrush Capture the Lead in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby

Stella Buckingham (Los Angeles, CA) and Chrush capture the lead with scores of 92 and 94 in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Jr/Am, sponsored by Makoto Farms. Skylar Wireman (Bonsall, CA) and Barclay Square, owned by Volant Stables, with scores of 91 and 94. Payton Potter (Woodland Hills, CA) and Khaled, owned by Infinity Equestrian LLC, rode to a third place finish with scores of 81.5 and 91.

The thirteen year-old gelding has been a part of the Buckingham family for nearly ten years now. “I just recently started riding him because he has been my mom’s horse and she generously let me take the ride,” revealed Buckingham. “He’s so much fun, I love riding him. He’s probably one of my favorites in the barn to ride.”

The course challenged 46 pairs and Buckingham entered the handy round sitting in second place. “The handy course was really fun. I wanted to take the tidiest route without pulling him in the air or having a rub or having a rail. So anything to prevent that, while still being handy was my goal,” Buckingham shared.

Kyle King and Etalon Crowned Winners of the $30,000 Grand Prix

Kyle King and Etalon (Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve x Concorde) led the victory gallop in the $30,000 Grand Prix, sponsored by KASK, finishing with a jump-off time of 38.438 seconds. Alec Lawler aboard his own For Gold (For Fashion x Heralda) claimed the second place ribbon with a short-course time of 39.682 seconds, while Kevin Lemke and Strasburg Morin Inc.’s Camirez FZ (Contender x Indorado) finished third, halting the time at 42.615 seconds.

The Friday afternoon Grand Prix course tested a field of 52 pairs. “I thought the course was great, it wasn’t super big, but it was just right for a Friday class,” King noted of the course, “There were a couple of liverpools and skinny jumps and some things that caught some of the horses.” King was one of twelve pairs to return to challenge the short-course, “There were quite a few in the class and I expected a lot more clears, but he [Peter Grant] was just smart about how the material was light enough,” King explained. “I was happy and the jump-off was really set for my big stride and it was great.”

King and “ET”, as Etalon is known in the barn, have been paired for a year and half together. “A rider had an unfortunate incident with him and asked me if I would ride him at the show we were at and we just clicked ever since,” King shared.

“He [Etalon] is very competitive and he’s just been moving up the ranks and I have really high hopes for him,” King commented. “I think he is the horse for the highest level of the sport and he has the heart, he has the step, he wants to win. His owner [Christine Maclean] is very supportive and as long as we keep producing and going in the right direction, I get to hold onto him for a little while and keep having fun,” King concluded.

Zoe Brown and Chase Capture the Win in the $1,000 U25 Classic

Zoe Brown and Chase were victorious in the $1,000 U25 Classic, sponsored by Equithrive, and were the only U25 pair to return for the jump-off in the $30,000 Grand Prix. Gabriela Pattinson and Quadrigus, owned by Susanne Coleman, claimed the second place ribbon, while Derek Chang aboard Andrew Chang’s Chappie took home third.

“Chase is 12-years-old and I have been riding him for the past six months,” Brown shared of partner Chase, owned by Harley Brown Equestrian Inc. “He has been great, we’re just moving up and seeing where he takes me,” Brown expressed.

Brown will be competing in the Week VIII Young Rider Trials. “I am planning on doing the young rider trials and doing the A and B team,” Brown shared. “I did the trials last year and it was my first experience so now I will be a little more prepared,” Brown concluded.