Traverse City, Mich. – June 16, 2021 – The spotlight shone on hunter competitors during Week II of the Traverse City Spring Horse Show, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel. Taking center stage, the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring concluded Wednesday afternoon with the $15,000 Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by the Ingram Family. Emerging victorious during his first visit to Traverse City, Michigan, California-Native Nick Haness and Double Down Farm LLC’s Caldiano took home the top spot on the leaderboard. Earlier in the day, Haness kicked-off his winning ways riding Morrison, claiming the win in the $5,000 Traverse City Derby and also earning third, fourth and fifth place riding Notorious, Reddington, and Crowd Pleaser, respectively.
Tom Carlson laid out a decorated 12-obstacle course which took advantage of the spacious Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring, allowing riders to really showcase their horses’ talents. The two panels of judges awarded Jamie Sailor and Princeton, owned by A.F.M. Investments, the highest total score of the first round, with the pair finishing on a total of 176.1. Haness sat close behind Sailor with his two mounts, claiming the second position aboard Lucas Mejia Fanjul’s G. Eleven on a score of 176 and the third position riding Caldiano on a score of 170.5.
Returning in reverse order, the top 12 horse-and-rider pairs were invited back to compete over a shortened nine-fence handy round, each hoping to impress the judges enough to earn valuable handy bonus points and move into the leading position. Moving up in the order after wowing the judges with their talented handy round, Haness left it all in the ring with the 11-year-old Warmblood gelding. He took tactful rollback turns and showcased Caldiano’s skills around the expansive arena, earning a score of 202 to finish on a total of 372.5. Their efforts would prove victorious as Haness and Caldiano would ultimately earn first place honors. Haness would also earn second place with G. Eleven after ending their handy round on a total of 369, with Sailor and Princeton rounding out the top three with a total score of 362.10. Haness spoke highly of Caldiano’s future, as the afternoon also marked the gelding’s first International Derby win.
Just prior to the $15,000 Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by the Ingram Family, 23 hopeful hunter athletes tried their hand at the $5,000 Traverse City Derby in the Polk Family Hunter Ring. Competing over Carlson’s 11-obstacle first round track, it was Haness who led the way yet again at the conclusion of the first round aboard Morrison, owned by West Coast Equine Partners, LLC, on a score of 91. The shortened nine-fence handy track invited the top 12 competitors back in reverse order, with Haness and the six-year-old Warmblood gelding continuing to dominate the field to ultimately claim first place honors. The pair earned a handy round score of 93.5 to finish on a total of 184.5. Victoria Colvin and Doctor’s Orders, owned by Brad Wolf, earned second place, finishing just one point behind Haness and Morrison on a two-round total of 183.5. Haness added to his afternoon of awards rounding out the top five with his additional mounts in the class, riding Notorious, Reddington, and Crowd Pleaser, respectively.
Top hunter competitors from around the country are making their way to Traverse City, Michigan to join in on the brand new Hunter Incentive Program, put in place to highlight hunter athletes and their horses. Over $275K in guaranteed prize money is on the table, and exhibitors have the chance to opt-in to the Incentive Program throughout the 12 weeks of competition for their chance to earn add-back prize money. Horses not enrolled in the program are still eligible to compete for the guaranteed prize money during the Traverse City Hunter and Derby Finals as long as they have competed for at least three weeks of the Traverse City Horse Shows series. The finals will run concurrently with the highly anticipated 51st Anniversary of the American Gold Cup, held during Week III of the Traverse City Tournament of Champions this fall.
Hunter competition during Week II of the Traverse City Spring Horse Show, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, continues Thursday, June 16, highlighting the professional hunter divisions in the Polk Family Hunter Ring. The week will conclude with another derby Sunday, June 20, featuring the $2,000 Traverse City Derby.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Nick Haness – winner of the $15,000 Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by the Ingram Family
“He is a really fun horse. I have been riding him since the beginning of this year, and he was actually a jumper before. I thought he was really cute and could make a nice hunter derby horse and we have been working with him all year to make it a goal to go to the [USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships]. He has been great and he is a super fun horse. He has tons of scope and is really brave to the jumps. He always puts a 10-out-of-10 effort in everything that he does. It has been a lot of fun developing him and he has been second place in quite a few nice hunter derbies in California. We are really excited that he finally won his first big International Hunter Derby, which is great to be here on new grounds and a new coast for him.”
On the handy round:
“He put his all into the handy round and came in ready to win. He was perfect the minute he put his feet into the ring. He was just with it the whole time and tried his heart out from the beginning to the end of the course. The first jump was a big split rail with hay bails, which is pretty spooky and I was questioning whether to do the high or low side. That jump comes down typically a lot in normal classes, so it is a little bit of a risk to go do the high option. I knew that he would be great and I knew I had to just go for it a little bit. He felt really perfect in the schooling ring and I know that he is capable of getting scores in the 90’s, and has done so a couple of times before. I thought, ‘he feels good, the weather is great, the ring is beautiful, just go for it.’ Jump big or go home and win! I thought that he was particularly good at the trot jump into that tight turn to the high option oxer on the rail. He handled that beautifully and jumped really high and nice over that.”
On competing in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring:
“Not only is it nice for the owners or spectators to watch their horses, whether they are here or on the livestream, it is a beautiful ring to watch and it really allows the horses to gallop, which is something that we don’t always have such a large arena to show off the hunters at a typical horse show. So for the derby being out here, it sort of is a special event. The horses haven’t been out here much this week, they aren’t used to the atmosphere but it obviously allows them to showcase their hand gallops and big jumps.”
On Traverse City Horse Shows:
“We are super excited to be here, it is our first time coming to Traverse City all of the way from California. It is definitely a hike for us, but it is a beautiful venue and we have always heard great things about this horse show. We put this show on our schedule earlier this year to make this little vacation, horse show situation happen. I am very grateful that we have. We have had a great time so far and it has been a lot of fun, and the horses have been going really well.”
Nick Haness – winner of the $5,000 Traverse City Derby
“He is a great young horse that we have in the barn. He is currently leading the country in the National Hunter Derby classes. We are really happy and excited for our win today because it is going to contribute to his overall earnings for the year, which is keeping us comfortably in the lead which would be one of our goals we had for him this year. We are really just happy to be in a different zone with him. We are on the east coast instead of the west coast, which is where we typically are with that horse. We are really having fun with him in the national hunter derbies. He has won seven of them I believe this year.”
On the courses:
“They were great, I love the courses out there today. The setting here is just beautiful, the backdrop in this ring is amazing, so you are just able to gallop around. I thought that the designer [Tom Carlson] did a nice job of giving options in these long bending lines, you were able to do nine or 10 strides. Of course, I had five horses in the class, and each of these horses are very different, so it was really fun to strategize for each horse what the best approach would be to have the most success on each one. They do such a nice job here making the jumps look beautiful and really filling them out. The horses are jumping at their best.”
On his upcoming goals:
“We hope to win the year end award for Horse of the Year in the National Hunter Derby. Our goal for next year is to target the [USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships]. [Morrison] is 6 years old this year so he is quite young, but for his age he is very mature. It is always pressure having to beat [Victoria Colvin] when she is on top, so I was nervous but he produced perfect results.”
$15,000 Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby, presented by the Ingram Family
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Caldiano / Nick Haness / Double Down Farm LLC / 170.5 / 202 | 372.5
2. G. Eleven / Nick Haness / Luca Meija Fanjul / 176 / 193 | 369
3. Princeton / Jamie Sailor / A. F. M. Investments / 176.1 / 186 | 362.1
4. Get Rowdy / Jamie Sailor / Teton Farms LLC / 167 / 195 | 362
5. Virgo DC / Jacob Pope / Evergreen Stables LLC / 170 / 187.5 | 357.5
6. Believe In Me / Jacob Pope / Natalie Grimaldi-Groulx / 162 / 182 | 344
7. E.S. Diathago 2 / Tiffany Morrissey / Doris Neyra / 157 / 132 | 329
8. Heartfelt II / Noa Diener / Diener Farms LLC / 137 / 176 | 313
9. Commander B / Jordan Kilkenny / Molly Welborn / 157 / 132 | 289
10. Rainier / Jamie Sailor / Aquitaine Equine / 123 / 134 | 257
11. Ipso Facto / Victoria Colvin / Glade Run Farm LLC / 99 / WD | 99
12. Monique / Christina Kelly / Donna Struve / 97 / WD | 97
$5,000 Traverse City Derby
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Morrison / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners LLC / 91 / 93.5 | 184.5
2. Doctor’s Orders / Victoria Colvin / Brad Wolf / 90.5 / 93 | 183.5
3. Notorious / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners LLC / 88 / 94 | 182
4. Reddington / Nick Haness / Gail Ellis / 89.5 / 92 | 181.5
5. Crowd Pleaser / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners LLC / 90 / 90 | 180
6. Didgereedoo VDL / Kelsey Epperson / Julia Szasz / 89 / 88 | 177
7. Airport 48 / Martha Ingram / John & Stephanie Ingram LLC / 87 / 86 | 173
8. Ice Time / Martha Ingram / John & Stephanie Ingram LLC / 84.5 / 87 | 171.5
9. Sebastian / Jared Depermentier / Brad Wolf 83 / 88 | 171
10. MTM Bentley / David Beisel / Lori Taylor / 84 / 85 | 169
11. High Tide / Kit McClorey / Indian Rock Farms LLC / 78.5 / 84 | 162.5
12. Fabian / Chloe Stix / Chloe Stix / 82 / 43 | 125