Repeat Performances Highlight HITS Desert Circuit Championship ASG/USHJA International Hunter Derby

March 23, 2009

Lexington, KY – March 23, 2009 – A month ago, John French and Jenny Karazissis bested 31 other entries in the HITS Desert Circuit III ASG/USHJA International Hunter Derby to win champion and reserve champion honors in the prestigious hunter class. This weekend under the lights of the Desert Circuit’s grand prix arena, it was the same outcome. French piloted Mountain Home Stable’s Rumba to victory while Jenny Karazissis aboard Tonia Cook-Looker’s Forbes took reserve champion honors.

Built to encourage and reward brilliance and daring from the rider and true athletic ability from the horse, derby courses are reminiscent of the hunt field and include challenging tracks and options. The courses John Manning designed for Saturday’s event were no exception. Rumba and French were the first to enter the ring for the classical round, which included an in and out and bending lines, and stayed near the top of the score board for the rest of the evening. Hap Hansen on Y2K and Karazissis and Forbes rounded out the top three places in the classical round.

As tradition, the top 12 riders from the classical round were called back to negotiate the handy course and compete for overall honors. The course featured a trot jump, roll backs and a small liverpool that posed an interesting obstacle for riders to incorporate into their ride. During the handy round, judges award bonus points based on daring and handiness from horse and rider.

Karazissis, who said Forbes was suspicious of the liverpool, was pleased with the gelding’s effort. “Although Forbes is a young horse and this is only his second derby, he’s handled the courses really well,” Karazissis said. “John and Rumba were very deserving of the win. They’re a great pair.”

Since its inception in December 2007, the International Hunter Derby has been receiving praise from top professionals in the industry. “The Hunter Derby is a great thing for the industry and is attracting a lot of attention,” Karazissis said. The class was created to bring the lost art of tradition and horsemanship back to the show ring and to raise show hunters to the international level.

The 18-month-series will culminate at the 2008/2009 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals on August 21-22, 2009 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. The top 75 money earning horses will be invited to compete for international recognition. Click here for up to date standings.

Visit for a complete schedule and more information. Questions concerning the Derby can be directed to USHJA’s Director of Programs and Education, Melanie Fransen or 859-225-6960.

The 2008/2009 USHJA International Hunter Derby Series is supported by the following sponsors: ASG Software Solutions-Title Sponsor; Dietrich Insurance-Presenting Sponsor; Walsh Harness & Saddlery-Featuring Sponsor; Charles Owen & Co.-Major Sponsor; Dover Saddlery-Major Sponsor; Essex Classics-Award Sponsor.

Contact: Rachelle Wilhelm 859-825-6005

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