Hunt Tosh said Cannon Creek gave him “so much confidence” heading into the Handy Hunter Round of the 2022 Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship. That feeling was well-founded. The 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding helped the pair take home their second consecutive derby title Saturday night.
“I knew he was gonna try his hardest,” said Tosh, who also won the 2021 derby with the Wheeler Family’s Cannon Creek. “I I honestly tried not to make a mistake and let him do his thing. And he just tried so hard. He’s a wonderful horse.”
The last to go into the Rolex Arena, Tosh and Cannon Creek earned a 317 for the Handy Hunter Round. When added to their previous night’s score of 289, it gave them a final total score of 606. Hannah Isop and Red Ryder moved up one spot from Friday night’s Hunter Classic Round to finish in second place. They had a total score of 586.50. Tosh also took home third place with 9-year-old warmblood gelding Autograph and a total score of 583.25.
Tosh competed against the 24 other horses and riders who were invited to compete in the Handy Hunter Round Section A. The rode over Alan Lohman’s and Danny Moore’s 12-fence course. The course had a tricky bounce over tree-branch rails that spooked several horse’s in the class. The course also included four high options that earned riders additional points.
Bold Rides and a Long Partnership
Describing Cannon Creek as “the sweetest horse” back at the barn with “the best manners,” Tosh said he watched earlier riders to try to see what the judges liked. On Autograph, owned by Ceil Wheeler, Tosh said, “I tried to be carry a little pace. Tried to take a couple risks to see if it would help out and improve the score. And [the judges] liked kind of a bolder ride, little galloping. So then I tried to follow that path with Cannon Creek, but not obviously take it to the next level and make a mistake.”
Isop commented that the course was “a little tricky” for her because it included a lot of left turns. Those are harder for the 18-year-old Selle Français gelding. She said they tend to get Red Ryder to play a little bit.
“It’s been a long partnership, which is rare in this world,” Isop said. “So I’ve been incredibly lucky to have such a partnership with him and such a relationship. I always can go in that class and know he’s gonna jump his heart out. He might be a little happy doing it and a little playful, but that’s an incredible feeling, knowing that he’s going to give it his all.”
Colin Syquia and Front Page, who earned a total score of 582.35, finished in fourth place, moving up three places from the Classic Hunter Round. This was Syquia’s and Front Page’s first time competing in the championships. “Just being here is an honor with these top riders and their great horses,” he said. “It’s just an incredible experience. Just watching them on the the live streams before being here, just being a spectator and then to actually have a chance to go up against them is great.”
Syquia thought the course showed off the horses. “When you walked [the course], I thought like, ‘How’s this gonna work?’ And then the quality just came out of these animals, and they just jumped their hearts out,” he said. “And it was just so amazing—round after round, higher and higher scores.”
Syquia and Front Page were also named the winner of the Handy Hunter Round’s Section B, which jumped the same course as the Section A riders.
The championships distributed a total of $252,505 for both sections. Tosh’s win earned $42,643.04, while Isop took home $27,896.75. Tosh’s win on Autograph garnered $21,412.42.
Derby Challenge Winner
Earlier in the day, 24 riders competed in the Derby Challenge. This was for riders and horses who hadn’t qualified for the Handy Hunter Round after the Classic Hunter Round. Dorothy Douglas and Abigail Davenport’s 9-year-old Westphalian mare MTM Lolah LOL won the top prize with a score of 295. Kristen Bumpus and Barbara Le Stage’s 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood Diadora finished second with a score of 282.