Thermal, Calif. – Jan. 27, 2022 – The Oz Inc. High Performance Hunter division took to Hunter 1 Thursday to complete the second portion of the division and vie for championship honors at the 4’ fence height. Over courses set by Ken Krome (USA), the hunter athletes let their mounts show off their impressive scope in order to impress the judges and propel them to the top. Nick Haness and Morrison, owned by the West Coast Equine Partners, LLC, ultimately claimed top honors in the division.
The native Californian piloted two of his younger mounts around the division this week, with Morrison claiming the championship and Reddington, also owned by the West Coast Equine Partners, LLC, claiming a win over fences and in the under saddle. Haness and Morrison picked up wins over fences and in Wednesday’s handy round, opting for tidy inside turns and letting the 7-year-old Warmblood gelding open his stride and take short approaches to the large jumps. Morrison showed off his incredible scope and laid down a flawless round, securing the top spot in the class.
Haness, who spends his entire winter season in the desert, has produced numerous top young hunters and is aiming several of his current string for Friday’s $15,000 USHJA Butet International Hunter Derby. He debuted Morrison in the High Performance Hunter division during Desert Holiday II after moving the gelding up from the Green 3’3’’ Hunter division, taking the championship that week as well and promising a bright future for Morrison.
Reserve champion was awarded to Emma Lindstrom aboard Coraggio, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by June Salin. Lindstrom piloted Coraggio to third place under saddle as well as a first place and three second place ribbons over fences. The duo ultimately clinched the reserve honors on a tie breaker, earning more points over fences than Haness’ second mount Reddington to walk away with the tricolor.
Upcoming hunter highlights during Desert Circuit II include the $15,000 USHJA Butet International Hunter Derby on Friday morning in Hunter 1, including the DIHP Under 25 International Hunter Derby Series, followed by the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
“Morrison has graduated – he was a 3’3” Pre-Green horse last year and now he’s in the High Performance. We skipped a few years and went right to the top and he shined and was great today. He’s pretty familiar with handys and derbies. He was really successful at the National Hunter Derby level and we’re looking forward to his first International Derby tomorrow.”
On his other mount in the class, Reddington:
“Reddington is another horse owned by the West Coast Equine Partners, LLC. He’s a really athletic horse that we’re excited to produce. He’s a little greener and newer to the hunter ring. He was imported last year and we took our time with him. This year is his year to shine. We felt like the bigger jumps were better for him so we went straight to the High Performance and he’s been really good.”
On Desert Circuit and DIHP:
“I’m here all eight weeks. The horse park is great. It’s beaming with quality. The staff, the people, the horses are really happy, the atmosphere’s been great, the jumps are beautiful, and we’re really thrilled to be here.”