DEL MAR — The competition escalated July 25 with back-to-back main events that drew huge crowds, perfect weather and intense competition. The $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and the $30,000 Racing Festival Grand Prix spurred some serious battles between competitors. The season has developed two rivalries in both the Hunters and Jumpers. Nick Haness was Champion again in the Hunter Derby July 25, breaking veteran John French’s win streak aboard the famous Small Affair and young gun Tina Di Landri stole the show by outrunning the fearless Josephina Nor Lanzman in the July 26 $30,000 Grand Prix jump-off.Josephina Nor-Lantzman piloted Chello Z to a flawless jump-off in 39.317 seconds, settling for second respectively.Hap Hansen, sitting on his 99th Grand Prix victory, was the first to return in the jump-off and set the stage aboard Archie Bunker. Hansen was setting up what looked to be that matchless 100th win, but with an unlucky rail Hansen and Archie Bunker finished with four faults in a time of 40.436 seconds. Coming off her win in the $30,000 Red, White and Blue Grand Prix, Brazilian rider Josephina Nor-Lantzman and Chello Z were the next contenders to top the leaderboard. Knowing her horse’s abilities, Nor-Lantzman piloted Chello Z to a flawless jump-off, bolting through lines and cutting every corner possible to trip the wire in 39.317 seconds. Michelle Parker and Xel Ha was the third pair to challenge the finalists. Just as it had in the qualifying round, the skinny vertical took another victim and with an additional rail on the final line, Parker and Xel Ha finished with eight faults in a quck time of 36.912 seconds.“Avargo is so good at what he does. I’m so proud of him,” shared Di Landri of her winning mount.The rivalry between Nor-Lantzman and Di Landri re-emerged as Di Landri galloped into the ring. “I completely changed my jump-off plan after Phina (Josephina) went, “Di Landri said. “She was quick, so I knew I had to leave some strides out and go for it. They left the skinny vertical which was risky but Avargo is so good and when you gotta go, you gotta go.” Di Landri charged through the track leaving all the rails in the cups, posting a time of 37.355 seconds, shifting Nor-Lantzman to second. Antonio Maurer was the final rider to challenge Di Landri’s post. Maurer guided Callao through a swift round but with one unfortunate rail, Maurer would finish with a four fault time of 36.878 seconds, good enough for third place.
Tina Di Landri and Avargo win the $30,000 Racing Festival Grand Prix, presented by EquiFit, inc.
The day prior featured the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby where veteran rider John French has remained untouchable since his most recent back-to-back first-place postings aboard Small Affair. Looking to continue his win streak, French qualified the top three mounts returning for the Handy Round; Small Affair, Sander, and Small Kiss. Nick Haness was also able to sneak through two of his mounts into the Handy Round with his Spring Classic III Hunter Derby Champion Gelato and his newest five-year-old mount, Good Times.
The Handy Round asked for riders to really showcase their horse’s ability to jump clean, remain focused on the next obstacle and on their rider. Unique elements included two fences on the berm, multiple turn backs, a natural hedge with a Swedish oxer and an immediate halt after the final fence.
“It’s comfortable to come back in a lower spot,” Haness spoke of returning in fifth aboard Gelato, “I’ve learned to stay safe the first round because the Handy Round is where Gelato excels.”