By Brenda Mueller
THERMAL, Calif. – March 18, 2021 – World Championship Hunter Rider Week honored the West Coast’s top hunter riders as championship titles were awarded in the professional hunter divisions at the Desert International Horse Park Week VIII. The final week of Desert Circuit competition features the $100,000 West Coast Hunter Spectacular on Friday evening in the grand prix arena where close to 70 horse and rider combinations will take a swing for the top honors.
Earning tricolors this week in the 3’3” Green Hunters was Nick Haness (Temecula, CA) with Morrison, owned by the West Coast Equine Partners. Haness, born and raised in California, has been catch riding most of his life and was honored with the US Equestrian National Equestrian of the Year in 2019.
In addition to the 3’3” Green Championship, Haness and Morrison won both the $1,000 CPHA West Coast Green Hunter Stake and the $1,000 USHJA Hunter Incentive Stake 3’ – 3’3”.
“This horse has come a long way this season from winning a few derbies to champion in this division this week and winning the incentives today, it was a really exciting way to wrap up the whole circuit,” said Haness. Obviously, he’s a younger horse so he won’t be competing in the Spectacular tomorrow night but I am. I’m just very excited and ready to take on whatever they have us do tomorrow night under the lights.”
John Bragg (Beverly Hills, CA) and Carlos 777, owned by Irene Neuwrith, claimed the reserve champion in the 3’3″ Green Hunters.
There was no stopping Haness, as he continued to rack up top scores in the Green Hunters 3’6”. Haness walked out the ring Thursday with a 92 on Starburst from judge Alex Jayne (Elgin, IL). On HH Elmo, Haness landed an 89. HH Elmo, owned by Lindsay Maxwell, was the division champion while Starburst, owned by Ecole Lathrop, took the reserve championship. Both horses are trained by Archie Cox.
“It’s an absolute honor to be crowned champion and reserve champion in such a competitive field, so that feels great,” added Haness. “Both of the horses are phenomenal up and coming horses and they both jumped spectacular today, and it was just a lot of fun. HH Elmo has just the most amazing rhythm, his canter is beautiful across the ground and he just makes it fun to get to canter the jumps. He always gets there and puts in a big effort in a very precise jump and it’s all natural so it’s really fun to ride him and just let him kind of cruise along and do his thing. He’s quite spectacular just as he is.
“Starburst is another exceptional horse that I’ve been able to ride this circuit. He’s done some International Derbies and placed well, he was really on it today, he jumps spectacular! Ninety-two always feels good! I’m going in the Spectacular with both horses, out of the three I could choose from, and they were two of the three, the third one is my other horse Reese’s so I’m pretty excited for tomorrow night. All three horses got a tricolor this week so I’m feeling confident and happy with how they are going and looking forward to a fun class tomorrow night.”
The $100,000 WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular gets underway at 7:00pm Friday, March 19, 2021. Catch the action by heading to Deserthorsepark.com and clicking on the “Watch Live” tab.
For complete results, visit Showgroundslive.