Lexi Karolyi came out strong during her first derby of the winter season at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP). In Friday’s $10,000 Platinum Performance USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open during Desert Circuit I, she took the top call aboard C’Est Jolie, owned by B R Farms LLC.

Her score of 90 was what set her apart just enough in the handy round. Combined with a first-round score of 87, her total score of 177 sealed the deal.

Lexi Karolyi and C’Est Jolie, pictured with Carleton and Traci Brooks. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“The handy round was directly to an oxer on my right lead and I wanted to make sure I showed some pace and it came up nicely especially for the inside turn afterwards,” Karolyi explained of her plan. “It was my first class on the mare. She followed me right to fence two, and galloped up, really following me nicely to the in-and-out. She was just super handy and she was really nice to ride.”

Despite a new partnership with the 11-year-old Westphalian mare, Karolyi hit her stride and impressed the judges every step of the way through Friday’s class.

Lexi Karolyi and C’Est Jolie. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“So my first time riding her was on Tuesday, and this was actually my first class on her,” Karolyi continued. “I came in last minute to help Carleton a little bit this week. During round one, I got to know her a little bit, then I figured her out and trusted her round two. The first round I tried to ride her a little more, and then in the second round I figured out she knows what she’s doing so I just let her do it herself the second round.”

Overall, the horse was consistent and impressed the judges easily, making Karolyi’s job easier, in her opinion. “She has a beautiful stride, she has a beautiful expression, and she jumps super well,” she said of C’Est Jolie.

Alexis Taylor captured second place aboard Timeless Romance, owned by Katherine Martell, just one point behind the ultimate champion, while Skylar Wireman and Nick Haness’s Clarino took third, only one-half of a point behind that.

Avery Glynn Grabs the Win in $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Junior/Amateur

Avery Glynn had a stellar performance in the $10,000 Adeptus USHJA National Hunter Derby – Junior/Amateur, taking both first and second places and impressive scores along the way. Starting out strong, she took a score of 91 aboard Prost, owned by Hope Glynn, just to top her own score with a 94 on Kinship, owned by Paige Okerstrom. Returning for the handy round, the young rider did just what she needed to and secured strong scores, bringing home first place on Kinship and second on Prost.

Avery Glynn and Kinship. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“I had two horses in the handy round and one of them I own and the other I ride for someone else,” Glynn explained. “I got to do my own horse first and I was actually at the jumper ring before so I didn’t get to watch many rounds but I got to watch the Pro Derby this morning. I tried to take as many inside turns as I could and be daring. [Prost] is so good at those inside turns so I could find my track. When I liked my track on the first I decided on [Kinship] I’d do the same thing. I like to be a bit bold. I liked the last jump as a single oxer so you could be really bold on the way home. I thought it was a nice course and a fun thing to do.”

Despite knowing Prost better, the pieces really came together with Kinship in Friday’s class. “I rode him for the first time in November here,” she said of the 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding. “I did him in the derby and the Junior Hunters. It’s been fun to work with such a lovely horse. Every time he comes out he’s so consistent. He’s brave so in the handy; I can take all the inside turns. He’s such a lovely horse and I love that on him you can be so soft. I can just ride and not worry about him too much because he knows what to do. He’s a wonderful horse.”

Avery Glynn in her winning presentation, pictured aboard Kinship and with Hope Glynn and Prost. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Glynn has been showing in Thermal since her early pony days, and each circuit she returns and is more successful than the last. “I have done a lot of circuits here,” she continued. “I always love coming here. Everywhere else in California right now it’s pouring so to be here, where it’s sunny and bright, is great. They’ve done a really good job to make this show as good as it is right now. I love getting to do the equitation, the hunters, and the jumpers here. I really look forward to this show every year.”

Third-place honors in the junior/amateur section were awarded to West Port and Kate Parker. Hunter action continues Saturday and Sunday with junior and amateur-owner action.

In the Grand Prix Arena Friday, the day was Sophie Simpson-Leckie’s, as she and Clinta 8 took top honors in the $7,500 Interactive Mortgage 10 & Under Futurity Series. The class, always brim with young talent, saw only two double-clear efforts, and Simpson-Leckie claimed the win by only one-tenth of a second. With the 9-year-old Holsteiner mare, she crossed the timers clear and in 31.259 seconds, barely edging out Hannah Evans aboard Jane Avril Des Terdrix, who took second place. Third went to Jayme Omand and Napels VH Pannenhof. The Interactive Mortgage 10 & Under Futurity Series continues every week of Desert Circuit to spotlight young jumper talent at the 1.35m height.

Final Results: $10,000 Platinum Performance USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open

1. C’Est Jolie / Lexi Karolyi / B R Farms LLC / 87 + 90 = 177
2. Timeless Romance / Alexis Taylor / Katherine Martell / 85 + 91 = 176
3. Clarino / Skylar Wireman / Nick Haness / 86 + 89.5 = 175.5
4. Manhattan / Alexis Taylor / Claire McNichols / 88 + 84 = 172
5. Big Spender / Jenny Karazissis / Gaby Morgerman / 90 + 80 = 170
6. Vagadam PSH / Skylar Wireman / Margaux Spitzer / 77 + 89 = 166
7. St. Somewhere / Lexi Karolyi / Balmoral / 79 + 86 = 165
8. Caffe Corretto / Katrina Pattinson / Gillian Penna / 82 + 82 = 164
9. First Class / Skylar Wireman / Nick Haness / 75 + 87 = 162
10. Fine By Me / Skylar Wireman / Emma Woodworth / 81 + 78 = 159
11. Picnic / Katrina Karazissis / Lisa Hankin / 78 + 49 = 127
12. Full Set / Melissa Gruber / Siena Sereni / 80 + 46 = 126

Final Results: $10,000 Adeptus USHJA National Hunter Derby – Junior/Amateur

1. Kinship / Avery Glynn / Paige Okerstrom / 94 + 86.5 = 180.5
2. Prost / Avery Glynn / Hope Glynn / 91 + 88 = 179
3. West Port / Kate Parker / Kate Parker / 88 + 89.5 = 177.5
4. Just Because / Kathy Nolan / Kathy Nolan / 87 + 85 = 172
5. Kuala Lumpur / Morgan Beyler / Morgan Beyler / 81 + 87 = 168
6. Baldeur / Lillian Muzzy / Lillian Muzzy / 77 + 90 = 167
7. Closing Time / Kelsey King / Kelsey King / 80 + 86 = 166
8. Conux / Jaime Krupnick / Jaime Krupnick / 75.5 + 89 = 164.5
9. Laurenz 20 / Savannah Strebinger / Della White / 82 + 77 = 159
10. Monix / Charlotte Gandy / Charlotte Gandy / 76 + 79 = 155
11. Chancellor / Christina Smith / Christina Smith / 83 + 45 = 128
12. Dream Boy M / Kassy Perry / Kassy Perry / 78 + 32 = 110