Edited Press Release
Saugerties, N.Y. – June 10, 2023 – Hunter riders returned to the ring at HITS Saugerties during HITS-on-the-Hudson III to vie for top honors in Saturday’s $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Patrons gathered to watch 37 horse and rider combinations tackle the classic first round in hopes of making it to the handy round. Micheal Desiderio and Cocolores kept their win streak alive, returning to the winner’s circle for the second week in a row after dominating both the classic round and the handy round.
“I think we both trust each other immensely and are a good partnership,” smiled Desiderio after his win. “I am very excited to have him. Over the last year, we have learned he is really just a steady guy and very straightforward.
The first round classic round featured four high option jumps on bending lines placed throughout the arena, as well as one that riders jumped both directions. Twelve combinations were allowed back for the handy round, which included four high options yet again, rollbacks, a trot fence and a two-stride in-and-out to finish right by the in-gate.
Desiderio rode Cocolores, the entry of Debbie Bianco, to the win in Saturday’s derby, reliving their victory from last week’s $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Desiderio and his winning mount rode to the top of the leaderboard in the first round after posting a score of 93. Continuing with their impressive and classic style the pair came back last to their advantage and captured the highest score of round two with a 96 – including the four high options, and an overall total of 189.
“The first round, I had three in it and my plan was to be smoother and a little bit looser. I thought in some places I was slower than I liked to be but my main plan was to just try to have a good rhythm. The handy round I had walked a couple inside turns that were on angles and wasn’t quite sure if they were possible on horseback. Once I did my first horse, I knew they were there and tried to stick to the same plan [for Cocolores] and go for it.”
Desiderio concluded, “I think all the improvements are excellent. I think the team, the footing, the venue is all much cleaner and all a step up. We had a little rain yesterday and the footing stayed excellent – just even down to places to get out of the sun and weather, it’s just a step up.
Hannah Isop and her mount Gabriel followed right behind Desiderio and Cocolores in second place with a total score of 185. The duo impressed the judges almost as much, posting a 91 score in round one and an even greater score of 94 over the handy track. Isop also captured the third place honors with her second mount, Clem Brecourt. They earned a score of 89 points in the first round and came back to earn the second highest score of round two, a 95, to finish with 184 points.
Competition of the Spring Series will conclude on Sunday as HITS-on-the-Hudson III comes to an end. More shows will run through September as part of the HITS-on-the-Hudson series at the world-class facility. Riders will vie for the win one final day in more hunter classics, Short Stirrup division, through Junior and Amateur-Owner Hunters, which include qualifiers for the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League Finals.