Thermal, Calif. – Nov. 12, 2021 – The Grand Prix Arena was transformed on Friday morning at Week II of the National Sunshine Series as the hunters took center stage for the $65,000 Butet Saddles USHJA International Hunter Derby Regional Championship. Thirty-one entries took to the classic hunter round before the top 12 returned for the handy round in reverse order of first round scores. Ultimately, Nick Haness, as the first to step in the ring out of the 31 entries, took the win aboard Caldiano.

Nick Haness and Caldiano

Course designer Paul Jewell set a beautiful track with sweeping bending lines across the Grand Prix Arena, featuring four high options, a vertical-oxer two-stride, and oxer-oxer two stride and a semi-circle of hay bales. The top 12 scores from the classic round returned for the handy round where they had the same four high options, a two-stride and myriad choices for inside turns and opportunities to show off their horses’ handiness.

First to take on the course, Nick Haness and the Double Down Farm, LLC, entry Caldiano laid down a near flawless trip, earning himself a score of 187 to take an early lead in round one. He then returned in the eleventh position aboard Starburst to a score of 184, putting him in promising position to secure a strong result. Throughout the class, high scores began to rack up, but none came close to challenging Haness until Shawn Casady came in, second to last in the order, aboard Cassario 8, riding to a 185.5.

Shawn Casady and Cassario 8

As the riders returned for the handy round, all pressure was on Haness, who had to wait several hours between going first in the ring and returning last in the handy. His mount sitting in third, Starburst, pulled an unfortunate rail earlier in the order, so he knew he only had one shot. Casady and Cassario laid down an impressive trip earning a round two total of 199.5, increasing the pressure even higher for Haness to put it all on the line.

Augusta Iwasaki and Attendu de Lannois Z

Taking every inside track possible and gracefully turning through the expertly-designed handy round track, Haness secured a score of 200.5, guaranteeing him the win with a total score of 387.5. Casady followed closely behind on a score of 384.5, and Augusta Iwasaki finished third with Attendu De Lannois Z, winning the handy round on a score of 201 for a combined total of 379.5.

In the open division of the $2,500 Desert Flight Movie USHJA National Hunter Derby, Peter Lombardo took the win on Compliment, a 7-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Ann Adams. Between the two rounds, the pair earned a total score of 180.5. Riding into second place with a 178.5 was Nick Haness on Jenkins, a 7-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Brianne Tsakopoulos, and rounding out the top three was Jan Humphrey on Cindy Balasubramanian’s 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Gramercy, with a 176.

Just following, the winner of the junior/amateur division of the $2,500 Desert Flight Movie USHJA National Hunter Derby was Skylar Wireman and In Favor, owned by B R Farms, LLC. A combined total of 182 shot the pair up to the top after winning both the classic hunter round and the handy round. Second place honors went to Isabelle Tolentino and Gustavo Dudamel, owned by Lori Johnston, and Leslie Biederman and her own Coer de Lion rounded out the top three.


Nick Haness – winner of the $65,000 Butet Saddles International Hunter Derby

On Caldiano:
“Caldiano is a really talented horse and he’s 10 years old. He came into my life a year ago; his previous career was as a jumper. I saw his beauty and potential as a hunter, which has proven to be his niche and forte throughout the year, especially in the international derbies where he can demonstrate all his beauty, scope, and how easy the jumps are for him in the bigger competitions.” about 

Nick Haness and Caldiano

On the course:
“I think the footing in this ring is spectacular and all the updates that have been made at DIHP are incredible. I really appreciate that! The jumps out there were beautiful today and today’s course included a lot of long gallops. I thought the course looked fairly straight forward but it actually had challenges throughout the rides and I thought it gave the judges a chance to judge the nicest horses in the class and really see them jump as well as they can jump. The jumps were scopey enough and the high options were big and wide. The horses had to put in an effort and that really separated the top horses; it was a fun class to watch.”

On the handy:
“I had a lot of pressure because I went first on Caldiano this morning in the first round and he went beautifully. I had to sit through the rest of the whole event knowing I may be coming back on top, which is a challenging place to be especially with all the talented riders coming behind me including Katrina Karazissis on Big Shot, who laid down a great round, and the junior phenom Augusta Iwasaki who I knew would be fantastic in the handy. I went right after Shawn Casady who put down double 90 rounds on Cassario, so I definitely had a lot of pressure going into the handy. I knew I had to be handy to win the class and I took a lot of chances, which sometimes pays off and sometimes doesn’t. I felt like today was our time to shine. I told myself to go for it and try to win this class fair and square. It was a real mental strength to go in there and stick to the plan. I have to say I actually did some turns that were tighter and more handy than I was even planning on doing originally, but Caldiano went in the ring and felt like he was on it and ready to do everything I asked him to do. He did it beautifully!”

Nick Haness and Caldiano

On his future plans with Caldiano:
“We have been targeting this horse for derby finals this year but with some obligations on the west coast this summer we stayed here and didn’t go back, but next year we definitely want him to go. We took him to Traverse City this year for the first time and he won the international derby there, which was really fun. Today was an exciting win for him to pick up on the west coast.”

Peter Lombardo – winner of the $2,500 Desert Flight Movie USHJA National Hunter Derby Open division

On Compliment
“It’s a horse I found in Germany when she was five. When I rode her there, we loved each other so I had to get her! She has been a wonderful horse. She’s been doing the Green Conformation Hunters this year and I’ve done some other derbies with her. She’s very brave and a very good jumper. She has a wonderful temperament and that’s my favorite thing about her. I’m in a different situation now where I can’t ride very difficult animals anymore so I love horses like her that can still be competitive.”

Peter Lombardo and Compliment


$65,000 Butet Saddles International Hunter Derby
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Score
1. Caldiano / Nick Haness / Double Down Farm, LLC / 387.5
2. Cassario 8 / Shawn Casady / Ashland Farms / 384.5
3. Attendu De Lannois Z / Augusta Iwasaki / Ashland Farms / 379.5
4. Big Shot / Katrina Karazissis / Dulcie Lou Morris / 377.5
5. Coraggio / Emma Lindstrom / June Salin / 376.5
6. Small Kingdom / Augusta Iwasaki / Iwasaki & Reilly / 366.5
7. Duck Duck Goose / Nicole Bourgeois / Amy Bean / 358.5
8. Lulavani / Sami Milo / Cavallo Stables, LLC / 358
9. Gatsby / Alexis Taylor / Aleron, LLC / 341.75
10. Glow Up / Travis Root / Julia Darling / 332
11. Starbust / Nick Haness / Ecole Lathrop / 296
12. Caprio 33 / Michelle Berry / Professional Maintenance Systems / 268

$2,500 Desert Flight Movie USHJA National Hunter Derby Open division
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Score
1. Compliment / Peter Lombardo / Ann Adams / 180.5
2. Jenkins / Nick Haness / Brianne Tsakopoulos / 178.5
3. Gramercy / Jan Humphrey / Cindy Balasubramanian / 176
4. Opulance / Kylee Arbuckle / Kirsten Polsky / 174.75
5. Genuine / Chad Mahaffey / Doryl Brooks / 172
6. Swagger / Alicia Saxton / Grace Miller / 171
7. Interactive Mortgage Cornet Fever / Mitch Endicott / Delong Equestrian Ventures LLC / 167.5
8. Charismo / Katie Taylor / Molly Brock / 162.5
9. Ravenswood / Katrina Karazissis / Lisa Wu / 137
10. Kynaz / Nicole Bourgeois / Ava Shatzko / 136.5
11. Cool Casscord / Olivia Brown / Tami Cabaniss / 131.5
12. Homer VDL / Kelly Van Vleck / Linda Freeman / 131

Skylar Wireman and In Favor won the $2,500 Desert Flight Movie USHJA National Hunter Derby Junior/Amateur division.

$2,500 Desert Flight Movie USHJA National Hunter Derby Junior/Amateur division
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Score
1. In Favor / Skylar Wireman / B R Farms, LLC / 182
2. Gustavo Dudamel / Isabelle Tolentino / Lori Johnston /170
3. Coer De Lion / Leslie Biederman / Leslie Biederman / 167
4. Go / Jayme Omand / Jayme Omand / 162
5. Mighty Quen / Greenley Achuck / Greenley Achuck / 161
6. Hazelton / Shayla Williamson / Shayla Williamson / 160.5
7. Easy Company / Isabella Mullan / Isabella Mullan / 159.5
8. Watermark / Christina Haney / Christina Haney / 158
9. Picnic / Skylar Wireman / Lisa Hankin / 151
10. Just Because / Kathy Nolan / Kathy Nolan / 149
11. Elvenstar Hans / Isabel Baker / Elvenstar Farm / 139.5
12. Erolie / Emma Mann-Meginniss / Louisa Ward / 125.5