By Emily Randolph/Randolph PR
Katy, TX – Jennifer Alfano is no stranger to hunter derby success at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, but it is a brand-new experience for her recently acquired mount, Banker. The gelding made its derby debut a winning one, taking the top call in Friday’s $30,000 United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) International Hunter Derby.
Second place went to Jef Lauwers and Hallpass, owned by Sue Copeland, and Peyton Addington and her own Semi-Automatic rounded out the top three at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, TX.
While it came down to the tenths of a point to decide second and third place, with Lauwers finishing on a cumulative total score of 364.5 and Addington earning a 364 total, Alfano and Banker were the far and away winners, leading the class from beginning to end.
Over the classic hunter round course – built by designer Alan Lohman and spanning two rings – Alfano and Banker earned a combined score from the two judging panels of 177.5.
With 12 riders returning in reverse order of their standings, Alfano was the final entry to contest the handy round, and she and Banker only bettered their performance, earning base scores of 88 and 86 from the two judging panels. Once coupled with all four high option bonus points and handy bonus points of six and eight, respectively, Alfano and Banker earned a handy round score of 196 and a two-round total of 373.5 for the victory.
“Banker is a new horse to me,” said Alfano, who purchased the 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding only weeks ago. “This is actually his first international derby, so he went way beyond expectations. I didn’t know what to expect. He honestly went in there like a seasoned derby horse. He was not fazed by anything. I couldn’t be happier with him.”
For Alfano, the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show has long been a favorite destination, thanks largely to its multiple hunter derbies throughout the three-week event.
“I’ve been coming to Pin Oak probably since derbies started,” explained Alfano, who hails from Ocala, FL. “This was one of the first places that actually had a big derby. They had a $50,000 derby early on when derbies were new, so we came from Florida one year for that. We fell in love with the place and the facility and all the people here, and we’ve been coming ever since. It’s been a long time. We love coming here.”