Temecula, Calif. – May 27, 2021 – Hunter exhibitors at Nilforushan Equisport Event’s Temecula Valley National II, presented by Interactive Mortgage, returned to the venue’s Grand Hunter Arena to battle it out for the week’s division championship honors. Bringing their best on Thursday morning in sunny Southern California, Temecula local Nick Haness added two more tricolor ribbons to his ever-growing collection, being named the Green 3’6” Hunter champion for the second consecutive week, this time aboard Starburst. Two more of Haness’ mounts, Sovereign and HH Elmo, tied for the reserve championship title.
After the first day of competition on Wednesday, Haness held the top four positions in the division, claiming two blue ribbons on Starburst, the 7-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Ecole Lathrop, with scores of 87 and 86. Aboard HH Elmo, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Lindsay Maxwell, Haness also claimed two red ribbons back-to-back in Wednesday’s over fences classes, positioning him well to attempt a jump up the leaderboard. Just last week, HH Elmo was named champion of the Green 3’6” Hunter division, while Haness’ other mount Sovereign, a 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding also owned by Maxwell, took the reserve honors. This week, it would be another battle for the blue among the professional hunter rider’s mounts, who traded positions in the placings several times throughout the two phases.
Each of Haness’ horses was on their game Thursday, seeing Sovereign shine especially bright to be awarded a score of 88 in his first over fences round, and an impressive score of 90 in his handy round. Hot on Sovereign’s heels, HH Elmo also laid down two fabulous rounds, impressing the judges with his signature style and ease around the course to earn an 87.5 in their first round and an 88 in their handy. Although the two stunners put in some of the highest awarded efforts by the judges on the final day, Starburst kept up his momentum to score an 85.5 in the over fences and an 87 in the handy. Ultimately, it was Starburst who was able to hold onto the top honors and outshine Haness’ other rides for the champion ribbon.
Running neck and neck on both Wednesday and Thursday, HH Elmo and Sovereign tied for the reserve championship honors when all was said and done.
Earlier in the day, Haness also earned a tricolor ribbon in the Conformation 3’6” Hunter division aboard Valedictorian, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Violat Tatum, while Halie Robinson and Sunset Boulevard earned the reserve championship honors. Jamie Taylor rode Attendu De Lannois Z to the championship title in the Green 3’9” Hunters, and Shauna Pennell and Top Story finished with the reserve championship title. Jenny Karazissis and Big Shot finished out the High Performance Hunter division with the tricolor ribbon on Thursday, and Taylor riding Black Jack earned the division’s reserve honors.
Competition will resume at the Temecula Valley National II on Friday, May 28, seeing the ASPCA 3’6” Medal
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Nick Haness – Green 3’6″ Hunter division Champion and Reserve Champion
“[Starburst] Is really a fun horse. We have had a great year so far. We have won some International Derbies and he is definitely a horse that is used to having some success. He has been in the winner’s circle plenty of times. He is a really beautiful jumper, and the nice thing about Starburst is that he has a huge stride. He can go really nice and smooth and easy and just walk the lines and jump around with the best of them.”
On Starburst’s plans:
“He continues his week with his owner, Ecole Lathrop, in the 3’3” Amateur/Owner Hunter division. She just started to show him and the goal is for him to be a horse for her. We have been bringing him along all year for her and it is going really nicely for her as well. We are really excited and happy to see this partnership come together. We are planning on doing our East Coast tour later in the year with Capital Challenge, Harrisburg, Washington, and then the National.”
On winning two consecutive Championship and Reserve Championships:
“It’s always fun to win, and it never gets old. Of course, I always strive to win the 3’6” Green division because it is always really fun and competitive. It is always great when you can have a Championship and then also a Reserve Championship so I was really happy about that.”
On the improvements to the Grand Hunter Arena:
“Now with the improvements from the horse show they added a screen there [Grand Hunter Arena], which is eye-pleasing and aesthetically beautiful to look at, and the horses are focusing and going really well in there. I found that my horses jumped even better and were more relaxed and able to showcase their talent. I was really happy with it and I thought all the horses went really well there this week.”