Edited Press Release
Ocala, Fla. – March 26, 2022 – Hunter horses and riders took over the Stadium at HITS Ocala on Saturday afternoon for the 2022 $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby as part of the HITS Ocala Championship Week. Hunt Tosh and the reigning USHJA International Hunter Derby champion Cannon Creek had a dominating performance, earning scores over 90 during both rounds of competition to capture the winning title. Kristen Bumpus and Diadora placed second after executing a bold handy round, while Kimberly Mulligan and TBS Rolls the Dice rounded out the top three.
Twenty riders showcased their talented horses over the opening round, created by course designer Rian Beals. The first round utilized the expansive Stadium and featured natural obstacles with four high options for riders to earn a bonus point for each opportunity to showcase their horse’s scope. The combinations that produced smooth and flowing rounds were rewarded with top scores by the two judging panels of Jeanne Marie Miller with Irving Evans, and Jay Mullen with Joe Dotoli.
Tosh and Cannon Creek, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by the Wheeler Family, had a flawless first round, taking all of the high options for a score of 189 to top the order heading into the handy. The top 12 returned for the handy round where they once again had four high options, but also had a trot fence and were encouraged to hand gallop the obstacles and take tighter turns to showcase their mount’s brilliance.
Bumpus and Diadora returned for the handy round ranked fifth, but a smooth inside turn to the handy fence and direct approach to the high option of the final oxer paid off when they earned a total score of 363 to take over the lead. Mulligan and TBS Rolls The Dice were ranked second after the first round. Hoping to secure a top placing, Mulligan opted for fewer risks, but her total score of 361 would fall just shy of Bumpus to eventually place third.
Tosh was the last to return with Cannon Creek. With a solid lead after the first round, Tosh also chose not to take the inside turn to the trot fence, but his mount’s scopey efforts over each fence and brilliance throughout the course shone through, earning scores two scores of 94 with all the high options as well as 8 and 10 handy points. His two-round total of 397 surpassed the leaders and he returned to the ring to lead the lap of honor.
“He is so scopey and so talented, and he does it so easy that you rarely have to tell him to put effort in,” explained Tosh. “You can sort of showboat a little bit like you can turn inside of the jump into that last jump, and put a little pressure on him and all he does is go higher. He handles it so well that he just tries harder.
“We’ve had a great winter,” concluded Tosh. “The weather’s been great. The horse show has been well attended and the numbers have been nice. We’ve had a really good season.”