Haness and McQueen Are Champions in 2023 WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular

Nick Haness and McQueen. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Edited Press Release

Just when you think Nick Haness has had his best day, that day gets better. Friday of Desert Circuit IX, he culminated his winter season with a win aboard McQueen in the $100,000 WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular, sponsored by Irene Neuwirth.

McQueen, owned by Strasburg Morin Inc., has been coming along over the course of Desert Circuit 2023, peaking just at the right moment in the evening’s feature class. Over the first round track, designed by Meghan Rawlins, Haness tied for second place with a 91.5 alongside Avery Glynn and Dauphin, owned by AE Farm.

“I am elated with the results tonight,” Haness reflected initially on his win. “It’s a great finale to the circuit. It gave me goosebumps. It’s a class we work all circuit and strive for. To win the class feels great.”

Though the class was a big step up for McQueen, Haness and trainers Traci and Carleton Brooks of Balmoral felt the horse could handle the challenge.

“McQueen is a rather green horse; he’s never shown under the lights before,” Haness continued. “I knew he’d go in and be very brilliant. He’s a very good jumper. I was a little nervous going into the handy but I knew his brilliant jump would ultimately clinch the win for us and I didn’t need to take too many chances.”

There were still a few chances taken to guarantee that top spot, including a big hand gallop to the last oxer of the handy round.

“We were definitely flying ‘Lightning McQueen’ to the last jump,” Haness joked. “The horse had been jumping beautifully and I could feel him listening to me. His focus was on par tonight. He came around to the last jump and really galloped it. I knew Nicole Bourgeois was in the lead so I had to be creative and make up some points and be extra special. It paid off.”

His handy performance secured him the win, going head-to-head against Bourgeois and another McQueen, but this one a mare owned by Barbara Lovre. Down to the wire, Haness’s second-round score of 94 gave him the win, with Bourgeois in second. Glynn and Dauphin placed third.

Not only did Haness secure the win, but he managed to place all three of his rides in the top seven among 49 entries in the starting order.

“There’s skill but there’s also a lot of luck,” Haness reflected. “Any day with these horses is a privilege for us riders, but any given day you have to have a little luck on your side. You can prepare as much as you can prepare and get your horses in form, but it comes down to the wire between fractions of points separating riders. Some luck is definitely involved and I was very lucky tonight. [The horses] all proved they deserved to be here.”

The handy track provided many options for riders to create their own destiny, knowing each of their mounts and which option would best suit them. “It gave every rider an opportunity to do something their own way,” Haness said of the handy round, where he often excels. “In a class like this it was fun. You could do what you thought was best. It presented hard options and some of the horses and riders chose hard combinations, but it should be a challenge for $100,000 tonight. It was really fun.”

Prior to the class, Haness was awarded a brand-new Top Jock tack box for winning Leading Hunter Rider of Desert Circuit 2023. An ultimate display of consistency, Haness earned 796 points in the qualifying divisions to earn the title. He was also named the WCHR High Score Professional, while Nicole Bourgeois was named the WCHR High Score Developing Professional.

Final Results: $100,000 WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular

1. McQueen / Nick Haness / Strasburg Morin Inc. / 91.5 + 94 = 185.5
2. McQueen / Nicole Bourgeois / Barbara Lovre / 92.25 + 92.5 = 184.75
3. Dauphin / Avery Glynn / AE Farm / 91.5 + 89.75 = 181.25
4. Lifestyle / Halie Robinson / Stable Assets LLC / 88 + 88.75 = 176.75
5. Tangled Up In Blue / Lisa Wall / 3P Equine Partners, LLC / 88.125 + 86.25 = 174.375
6. Estimated Prophet / Nick Haness / Roaring Fork Farms LLC / 89.875 + 84.5 = 174.375
7. On Call / Nick Haness / Lindsay Maxwell / 85.25 + 88 = 173.25
8. Wayfinder / Nicole Bourgeois / Hilary Sosne / 91 + 82 = 173
9. Lykke Li-Terma Z / Michelle Morris / Ava Park / 86.25 + 84.5 = 170.75
10. Vagadam PSH / Chelsea Brittner / 84.125 + 85.5 = 169.625
11. Kingston / Halie Robinson / Stonefield Sport Horses LLC / 87 + 82.5 = 169.5
12. Higgs / Hope Verschleiser / Hope Verschleiser / 84.5 + 84.75 = 169.25

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