Thermal, Calif. – Dec. 2, 2021 – Hunter competitors were eager to begin day two of competition Thursday, December 2, at the Desert Holiday I, starting with the highly competitive $1,000 USHJA Green 3’6” and 3’9” Hunter Incentive Stake. Nick Haness and Only Always took to hunter competition with a strong start riding to first place honors in the Green 3’6”and 3’9” Hunter Incentive Stake out of a strong group of 15 horse-and-rider combinations. Haness and Sunset Boulevard took home second place, while Mitch Endicott and Aventus rounded out the top three.
The Green Hunter Incentive Program is open to horses eligible to compete in the Green Hunter 3’0”, 3’3”, 3’6”, and 3’9” heights. The program is designed to encourage the development of green horses and is multifaceted to include the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships, regional championships, and stake classes throughout the year and across the country. The program and stake classes bring forth some of the top hunter athletes across the country.
Haness and Only Always, a 9-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Balmoral, paved the way to earn top honors from a competitive group of horses as they set the pace early on in the class with a high score of 89. The pair are no strangers to the winner’s circle at the Desert International Horse Park (DIHP), earning a first and third place ribbon over fences during day one of competition Wednesday in the combined High Performance/Green Conformation Hunter division. Only Always was awarded for his fluidity, consistency and form over each jump, ultimately earning the blue ribbon. The dynamic pair also won the $1,000 CPHA West Coast Green Hunter 3’6”and 39” Hunter Stake and were champion in the combined High Performance/Green Conformation Hunter division to round out a fantastic start to the week.
Shortly after his top score on Only Always, Haness once again tried his hand over the eight-obstacle course aboard Sunset Boulevard, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Lindsay Maxwell, quickly catching the judge’s eye with their beautiful form as they met each jump with grace. The pair were awarded a score of 88.5, just one half of a point shy of his previous ride, and would ultimately help them secure the second place honors from a competitive group of professional hunter athletes.
Endicott and Aventus, a 7-year-old Brandenburg gelding owned by Jennifer Cancellieri, proved to be a force to reckon with during day two of competition and were awarded third place to round out the top three of the class. Endicott showcased Aventus’ fantastic jump and forward pace throughout the course and the duo was awarded a score of 88 for their efforts.
Hunter competition at the Desert Holiday I will continue in the Main Hunter Ring Friday morning beginning at 8 a.m. with the highly anticipated $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and will conclude the day with the USHJA Hunt Seat 3’3” Medal.
$1,000 USHJA Green 3’6”- 3’9” Hunter Incentive Stake
Horse / Rider / Owner | Score
- Only Always / Nick Haness / Balmoral | 89
- Sunset Boulevard / Nick Haness / Lindsay Maxwell | 88.5
- Aventus / Mitch Endicott / Jennifer Cancellieri | 88
- Small Social / Augusta Iwasaki / Iwasaki & Reilly | 86
- Mattis / Susan Sadlier / Zenfield Farm | 84.5
- Azucar / Shawn Cassidy / Zoe Wolf | 84
- Morrison / Nick Haness / West Coast Equine Partners LLC | 83
- Advent / Shawn Cassidy / Marta Rocha | 80.5
- Everything / Mitch Endicott / Stephanie Ray | 80
- Impressionist / Kylee Arbuckle / Nicole Needham | 77
- D’Avant / Joie Gatlin / Cathy Morris-Schmitt | 74