DEVON, Pa.--Hunt Tosh of Alpharetta, Ga., and Ceil Wheeler’s Flamingo K topped a field of 30 on Thursday afternoon,May 31, to win the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at the Devon Horse Show.
In the first round, Tosh guided the 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding to scores of 88 and 85 from the two judging panels, which consisted of Sissy Wickes and Marylisa Leffler in one booth with Timmy Kees and Brian Lenehan in another, as they jumped all four high options in the classic round for a total score of 181 points.
The course also tested riders with a two-stride combination consisting of two oxers that challenged some horses, as it was set on the rail where bystanders were sitting in lawn chairs.
It proved to be no feat for Flamingo K and Tosh, whose partnership started last year at Devon when Ceil Wheeler purchased the horse for the professional hunter rider to show.
SITTING IN third place going into the handy phase, Tosh was determined to show off his mount’s rideability and bravery in order to earn handy points.
Course designer Allen Rheinheimer featured three high-option fences set at 4’ in the handy round as well as a trot fence and a brush wall.
After watching Tori Colvin set the standards high with many inside turns, Tosh and Flamingo followed a similar track and once again jumped all three high-option fences with ease.
The first judging panel awarded Tosh and Flamingo K’s handy round with an 89 and 6 handy points while the second judging panel gave the round an 88 and 9 handy points, bringing the total after both rounds to an impressive 379 points to take home the blue ribbon.
Finishing up in second place was Tori Colvin aboard Nicodemus Farms’ Gelato with 373.25 points.
This new pair demonstrated their partnership as they earned scores of 84.75 and 82.5 in the classic round and effortlessly tackled all four high-options.
In the second round, Colvin and the 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding received scores of 88 and 87 with 8 and 9 handy points, respectively.
Finishing third in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby was last year’s winning pair, Maggie Jayne and Pony Lane Farm’s Standing Ovation.
Jayne and the 11-year-old stallion finished up with a total of 370 points after earning an 87 and 84 in the classic round and jumping all four high-options, then returning to the handy where they earned an 83 and 89 with 6 and 7 handy points, respectively.
“The first round rode nicely," said Tosh. "I was able to watch a couple of rounds go before me to see how it rode. When I walked it, I didn’t think that it seemed super complicated. We’ve probably all jumped courses that were bigger. It was nice though and all of the horses went well.”
“The handy round offered a couple of options that I wasn’t sure about, but of course I saw Tori go in and ride so well," said Tosh. "She snuck around all of the inside turns and put a little pressure on everyone else. It was definitely quite handy. The only thing I did a little differently was to go directly at jump one. I went inside of the trot jump on the way to the first fence. It was definitely very handy, I felt like I couldn’t take a breath because everything came up so fast.”
“My horse is very scopey." said Tosh. "I actually met the first jump a little slower than I would have liked, but my horse took care of me. There were a lot of challenges in the handy. I thought after the two stride coming back around was a little snug. Probably the most difficult was the vertical then back to the trot jump, it came up really fast.
“We bought this horse at Devon last year, the Wheeler’s bought him for me. Jennifer Hannan rode him and he was jumping beautifully, so we decided to buy him. He has been great. He jumped really great here on Tuesday, he jumped two great rounds. He is super scopey and brave. He is very dependable. I always feel like I can take some risks on him and he will make up for any mistakes.
“The Wheeler’s have really wanted to get me a derby horse for a while. So when we saw this horse last year, he definitely looked like he could jump big enough for the kind of jumps they build in the derbies. It’s really fun to have a derby horse again. We plan to take him to Kentucky for the International [Hunter Derby Finals].”
“I couldn’t ask for better owners," said Tosh." I’m so lucky to have the whole Wheeler family behind me and supporting me. They are great owners. They have been so supportive and always let me call the shots when it comes to what I think is the right thing to do with the horses. To have the whole family’s support and for them to do this with me is such a team effort. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
“The first round was kind of a nice classic hunter round that suited both of my horses," said Colvin. "The handy rounded offered a few tight turns and honestly I didn’t think that I was going to do any of them, but then Tom [Wright] said I had to, so we went for it. It worked out well.”
“I’ve only shown Gelato like five times, so I don’t know him very well," said Colvin. "This is only his second derby I think. During WEF, Grace Tuton from Nicodemus Farm asked if I would ride him for him. I got on him ,and he is such an easy ride. He would be a great amateur horse. They wanted me to just take him on as a sales horse for them, and they knew he would excel in the derbies because he isn’t spooky, has a lot of scope, and is just really easy.”
fference for me.”