Thermal, Calif. – Jan. 28, 2021 – Hunter action began Friday morning with the $15,000 Butet USHJA International Hunter Derby Hunt & Go, welcoming 22 entries to take on the Ken Krome designed track. Athletes piloted their mounts through a classic hunter round, laid out for fences one through eight, including two high options and a two-stride line, then advanced straight into the handy portion over fences nine through 15, which included two high option oxers, a trot jump, a bounce, a solid wall and several opportunities to turn tightly and open up the horses’ strides for long gallops. Ultimately showing true mastery of the course and taking the win at the conclusion of the class was Jenny Karazissis and Big Shot.
First in the ring over the hunt-and-go format, Gabriela Pattinson and Caso 2 set the pace with an open, forward stride, meeting every fence with grace and style. Pattinson set an overall score to beat of 324, which would hold for several rounds. On the first of his two mounts, Nick Haness and Inkwell, a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Tami Cabaniss, took on the course fourth in the order of go. The pair took a tight inside path from the trot jump to the bounce, also opting for a tight turn again to the wall at fence 14. Haness met each jump on a forward stride before galloping home and was the first to take all four high options on the track, moving into the lead with a score of 353 which would ultimately land the pair in second place in the end.
The lead changed hands again when Karazissis stepped in the ring aboard Dulcie Lou Morris’ Big Shot and elegantly traversed the first eight obstacles before switching into handy mode, taking all four high options and thoroughly impressing the judges for an overall score of 355. In the handy phase, Karazissis smoothly directed Big Shot from the trot jump to the bounce in an even eight strides before opening up his stride to take the high option oxer at fence 12. The pair snaked back across the arena to the final three fences, meeting them all in stride and earning the new high score which would prove to hold until the end of the class.
Pattinson would return to Hunter 1 aboard her second mount, Lost Emerald, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Kim Hall, and built upon what she had laid down aboard her first mount, securing an overall score of 348.75 and ultimately placing third with Lost Emerald, as well as taking eighth place aboard Caso 2. Pattinson was also the winner of the DIHP Under 25 International Hunter Derby Series, which overlaid with the $15,000 Butet USHJA International Hunter Derby Hunt & Go. Pattinson received a $1,000 bonus as the highest placing rider in the class under the age of 25.
A partnership formed in 2017, Karazissis and the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Lordanos have impressive wins under their belt, topping the inaugural $100,000 USHJA WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular in 2021. The gelding, formerly a dressage horse, has fought health battles throughout his hunter career, sidelining him but never diminishing his fight to win. Karazissis and Morris were determined to get to the root of his health concerns, willing to do anything possible to keep him comfortable and able to perform at the top level, which included a six-month break from the show ring. In the past year since his return, Big Shot has won the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby in March at DIHP, the $100,000 Hunter Spectacular, and has been named the 2021 National Horse of the Year by the US Equestrian Federation.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Jenny Karazissis – $15,000 Butet USHJA International Hunter Derby winner
On her plan for the course:
“When I came in I wanted to be sure I got my canter early because I was going to take a short approach to the first jump. I established my pace and he felt great. [Big Shot] landed from jump one and felt impressed with himself so he played a little – in a good way. There was a little glare at fence two so he looked at that but jumped it well. In the bending line to the left, he felt amazing at the oxer. He felt like he exploded out of the in-and-out; he felt so good.
On the handy:
“The handy, for me and for [Big Shot] too, it’s the most fun. He knows it’s happening. I tried to turn as sharp as I could to the trot fence and stay inside – he’s a really good trotter so I knew he could get there – then stayed inside to the bounce. I knew it was going to be difficult because we were coming at an angle, it’s a bounce, and it’s a solid-looking bounce, but I knew I could count on him and he was terrific. He landed left for me there, then cantered the oxer on the side. Then this was where I wanted to be most thoughtful because I decided I was going to land and look and see which fence was ‘calling to me’ because of the option of all three. I opted to do the one on the left but I didn’t want to be stuck on that. I cantered the wall – he was terrific – and tried to gallop as best I could to the last jump. I don’t know how he could jump any more spectacularly but he did over the last jump. I was very pleased.”
On Big Shot:
“It’s a lot of pressure [riding him] because he’s so good; he’s going to do what I ask him to do. And he felt very ready today. I go out there and think, ‘Oh gosh, don’t blow it.’ I’m not concerned about whether he’s going to do this or going to do that, I just find the jumps, show him the way, and he’ll do it.”
On Big Shot’s health concerns:
“He’s had two episodes where it’s affected him, but the one that was very confusing was when he was landing at the cross canter which is not something he ever does. He was sound; we took him to the vet and there was nothing. We had him injected and that didn’t make any difference. So we basically just stopped riding him because we thought he was going to injure himself. We had an MRI and it showed nothing. It took vets conferring and they discovered that he was not absorbing any calcium. They could see through the bone scan that the bone density in his tibia had decreased enormously. He eats alfalfa which is crazy for a hunter, and he’s supposed to spend as much time in the sun as possible, which is difficult because he doesn’t enjoy the turout. He likes to go out and roll and then says, ‘take me out of here.’ We brought him back super slowly and it’s never been an issue since, so I’m really grateful. The vet we use has been his vet since day one. We got him as a three-year-old, so he’s very familiar with the horse and knows how much he means to us.”
On her strategy for Desert Circuit with Big Shot:
“Basically it’s going to revolve around derbies. We did the Performance 3’6’’ this week but sometimes we’ll do the High Performance. I’m not going to show him next week and then he’ll show in the derby Week IV, then we won’t show a lot until Week VII’s derby and Week VIII for the Spectacular, which we hope to do well in. He’s just a blast and I’m so fortunate to ride him. Thank you so much to the owners, Dulcie Lou Morris and Gabby Morgeman, who have been so supportive. It’s been a really fun journey.”
“It’s an incredible place to show. I’m so happy. They’re still trying to improve; they’ve done so much already but it’s just going to keep getting better. The numbers – my gosh – how many people have come here is proof that they’re pleasing people. I’m very happy about that and I thank them tremendously. Way to go.”
$15,000 Butet USHJA International Hunter Derby
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score / Total Score
- Big Shot / Jenny Karazissis / Dulcie Lou Morris / 176 / 179 / 355
- Inkwell / Nick Haness / Tami Cabaniss / 174 / 178 / 353
- Lost Emerald / Gabriela Pattinson / Kim Hall / 175 / 175.75 / 348.75
- Coraggio / Emma Lindstrom / June Salin / 168 / 172.5 / 340.5
- MTM Do Right / Didi Mackenzie / Didi Mackenzie / 164 / 169 / 333
- Verdict / Alexis Meadows / Alexis Meadows / 164 / 164.5 /328.5
- Just Cavalli / Gabrielle Sokolow / Gabrielle Sokolow / 161 / 164 / 325
- Caso 2 / Gabriela Pattinson / Carrie Silvano / 163 / 161 / 324
- Son House / Ireland Fravel / Ireland Fravel / 156.5 / 164 / 320.5
- Caldiano / Nick Haness / Double Down Farm, LLC / 143.5 / 167 / 318.5
- Famous / Skylar Wireman / MKT Investments, LLC / 150.5 / 153.5 / 304
- Top Story / Shauna Pennell / WJC Farms, LLC / 142 / 162 / 304