San Juan Capistrano, CA – July 23, 2021 – Friday, July 23, was double derby day at the Blenheim Summer Festival, where Nick Haness handily swept the $15,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby and Skylar Wireman won the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, Junior/Amateur.
From a field of 30 professionals, Haness’s commanding win at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park, San Juan Capistrano, CA, came aboard Reese’s, while the Temecula, CA-based rider also finished second riding Inkwell and third with Crowd Pleaser.
“This is actually a really special class for me and for Reese’s because he’s had the whole year off basically,” said Haness of the 8-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by West Coast Equine Partners, LLC. “We rested him after Thermal this year, and he’s been chilling at my farm at home. He’s just been on vacation and hanging out with my zoo animals, so this is his first show back. This is a special way for him to come back and come out with a bang today!”
And come out with a bang Reese’s did. After topping the first round with a score of 93, including four high option bonus points, the striking dark bay gelding returned to only better his performance in the handy round. As the final entry to return for the Michael Roy Curtis-designed handy course, a score of 95 plus four high option bonus points for a second-round total of 99 and an overall score of 192 would guarantee Haness and Reese’s the win.
“I knew that Reese’s was the winner from the first round, so I wanted to go in there and have fun, and I really wanted him to excel,” said Haness, who had previously turned in a score of 90 plus four high option bonus points for a second-round score of 94 and a 181 final score aboard Inkwell, owned by Tami Cabaniss.
“I didn’t take it easy,” continued Haness. “I made him go for it, but I knew that he would give me his all, and he would be fine with the track. He handled it beautifully. I really believe in Reese’s. I know him really, really well. I trust him 100 percent.”
Haness spent part of the summer competing in Michigan before returning to California for the duration of Blenheim’s July and August horse shows.
“This was a big derby for Reese’s to win – a $15,000 National Derby on the grass grand prix field,” said Haness. “We had a great time back East, and now we’re excited to be back here at the Blenheim facility. The grass was beautiful and green as ever. It’s been great to be jumping out here.”
For the win, Haness was presented with a Shady Lady gift bag. Additonally, Shari Rose was presented with an embroidered tack room pillow from The Clothes Horse, as the winning trainer by Nick Byassee of Equestrian Design LLC. As the owners of Reese’s, West Coast Equine Partners, LLC received an EquiTex Cooler and Topline Design Ribbon Wreath Gift Certificate & Picture Frame.
In the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, Junior Amateur, it was Skylar Wireman’s turn to be presented with the Shady Lady gift bag and all of the winner’s accolades.
The junior rider topped the field of 22 entries with an overall score of 192 aboard Bonne Starlight, owned by MZ Farms LLC.
Much like Haness, Wireman led the class heading into the second round, and she too returned to deliver a high score of 99, including the four high option bonus points.
“It really felt incredible; I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten that high of a base score!” said Wireman, who trains with her mother Shayne Berridge-Wireman out of Chestnut Hills Equestrian Center.
Unlike Haness and Reese’s competitive partnership, Wireman and Bonne Starlight’s is just getting started.
“This is only like his fourth horse show ever,” said Wireman of the 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding. “This is his first week showing on the grass, and he just started the 3’ greens not that long ago. We decided to do the derby, but we were going to take it just a little bit conservatively. I couldn’t have asked him to jump any better. He jumped everything so fantastic.”
Wireman continued, “We did all the high options today, and he was phenomenal. He’s come a really long way in a really short time. He belongs to Cathy and Lily Muzzy, and I can’t thank the Muzzys enough for trusting me with their lovely young horse to bring along.”
Second place with an overall score of 179 went to Parris Cozart Collins and her own Uno Mas, while Wireman also finished in third with a score of 178 aboard Baldeur.
All Photos: McCool Photography