Jenny Karazissis and Lindsay Maxwell Triumph in the USHJA National Hunter Derbies

by | Feb 26, 2021 | Hunters, Press Release | 0 comments

Photo © ESI Photography

For Immediate Release:

THERMAL, Calif. – February 26, 2021 – With the second half of Desert Circuit well underway, derby contenders were welcomed back into the Hunter 1 arena to vie for a USHJA National Hunter Derby win. In their respective sections, twenty-five professionals and forty-five junior/amateurs challenged the natural obstacles and put forth amazing performances to wow the judges over the two rounds. In the end, Jenny Karazissis and Bellamy took home the win in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Open, sponsored by Equithrive, and Lindsay Maxwell and HH Elmo claimed the blue ribbon in the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Jr/Am, sponsored by Roeckl Gloves. 

Round one consisted of ten obstacles where four of the fences had a higher option fence to choose between. Many of the first round fences were paired with unrelated distances and long, open areas to showcase the horse’s length of stride. Riders were able to choose the best track for their horse while demonstrating their skills to the judges. The top twelve riders from their respective sections returned for the handy round where they showed the tidiness and efficiency of their mounts. 

With two different horses entered and both advancing to the handy round, Karazissis put her best foot forward to earn the blue ribbon. Scoring a 93 in the first round on Bellamy, owned by Pamela Aizad, Karazissis was eager to flaunt the mare’s talents in the second round. Her other mount, Ravenswood, owned by Lisa Wu, gave her the opportunity to test the track and see what would work best. 

Photo © ESI Photography

“[Bellamy] is very strictly hunter like and the other one is an equitation-hunter. I was glad I got to go on [Ravenswood] first because I got to try out the inside turns,” explained Karazissis. “The course was beautiful by the way, the inside turns were really tough but inviting and there to do. I was grateful I did him first and did the inside turns because it gave me the confidence to do them on her. My plan was to go in and feel it out and see if she felt prepared to do those turns. She just kept giving them to me so I kept asking.”

After a stellar performance on Ravenswood that moved her from fourth to first, Karazissis competed as the final horse to go in the open section on Bellamy and with an impressive  score of 91 from the judges, she overtook Ravenswood and claimed the blue. Rounding out the top three was Nancy Free and Heir Apparent, owned by Catherine Antonelli, with a two round total of 180 points. 

“She just felt really good and relaxed when I went in the ring. It was an ideal course for her,” continued Karazissis. “After I came out on her, everyone was saying congratulations but I wasn’t sure if she was on top or if the other horse was. I just knew I could not be happier with both horses. They just were dreams to ride out there.”

Photo © ESI Photography

Fresh off an injury, Maxwell impressed the panel of judges with her mount HH Elmo with scores of 94 in both rounds of the junior/amateur section to earn the top spot. ‘Elmo’ as he is known around the barn, was previously Maxwell’s 1.45m jumper and has now transitioned into a hunter. Not only was this Maxwell’s first show back but it was Elmo’s first show as a hunter and his first derby win.

Photo © ESI Photography

“Elmo; he is an 11-year-old gelding, and he was actually my 1.45m horse for the last couple years. I have been wanting a derby horse and a high performance horse for a while and we have been looking and looking but we realized we may just have one in the barn,” narrated Maxwell. “He is just super game and he has taken to the hunter life really well. He is a fantastic horse, super sweet and just very safe. He has all the right ingredients to make a great derby horse.”

Coming in second place was Christina Smith and her own Soon To Be with an overall score of 178. Belle Calkin claimed the yellow ribbon with Davinci’s Bella Forte, owned by Calkin, with a grand score of 173 points.

Maxwell was able to show off Elmo’s big stride with the openness from the course. “The course really invited a nice open gallop. Elmo has a big stride so it was nice to go in and pick up that gallop and keep going with it,” mentioned Maxwell. “I was excited going into the handy, especially given his jumper background, but I haven’t done a handy on him yet so I wasn’t sure if he would get a little excited thinking it was a jump-off. He stayed right with me.”

Both Karazissis and Maxwell are gearing up for Week VIII of Desert Circuit and the $100,000 WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular. The class will run under the lights in the Grand Prix Stadium during the final weekend of competition. 


For full results of the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Open, click here.

For full results of the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Jr/Am, click here.



About the Desert International Horse Park

With nearly 1.3 million square feet of competition and riding space, the Desert International Horse Park is one of the largest equestrian facilities in North America. Offering multiple weeks of world-class equestrian competition from October through March, the facility is a destination location for thousands of equestrians, their horses, family and friends for several months annually. Competitors from all over the world travel to Thermal, CA to not only compete but to enjoy everything the desert has to offer.