Serio Claims First Derby Win Aboard Castlerock

April 5, 2010

Lexington, Ky—Louise Serio notched the biggest victory of her career when she piloted Castlerock, owned by Bryan Baldwin, to win the $50,000 Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby at the 2010 FTI Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL.

This was Serio’s first Derby score. “It felt awesome,” she said. “What a great place to do it. For sure, it’s the most exciting thing I have ever won.”

Scott Stewart and Fashion Farm’s Summer Place took reserve honors, and the yellow ribbon went to Tamara Provost and Peridot, owned by Stephen Martines.

The record-high class of 78 entries was scored cumulatively over two rounds, and the final round took place under the lights in the International Arena at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. The first team of judges consisted of Danny Robertshaw and Bob Crandall, while John Roper and Paddy Nyegard were slated in the second position. Keith Hastings and Pat Dodson were the scribes for the two judges’ panels. Judges awarded competitors with a score for their jumping rounds, as well as a bonus point for any large height option they chose to jump (out of five available), and a bonus score out of 10 points rewarding riders for their handiness.

“One of the most exciting things was that we had a record-breaking number of entries for the Derby, said Ron Danta, USHJA High Performance Hunter Committee Chairman. “It proves the Derby program is popular and growing, and as we have progressed more people are calling several horses Derby horses. I think people are going out and purchasing horses that will travel around the country and be Derby horses. This program has brought hunters to a whole new level and has really raised the bar.”

The course was designed by Bobby Murphy with Skip Bailey and was assisted by Danta. Five different height options over 16 total elements made up the unique course, which featured a horseshoe bank, a table bank, as well as an interesting one stride in and out that was made up of hay bales and were arranged in a large circle. Each fence on the course emulated a natural element that would be found on an old-fashioned hunt course. Several areas were featured on the course where riders could show off their hardiness and flowing hunter strides. The riders finished over a long run to an oxer option heading toward the in-gate, where riders were asked to hand gallop almost a quarter of the way around the International Arena to the final fence.

“Skip, Bobby, and I worked together during the week on the course and a lot of thought was put into making sure that all the jumps were visible to the judges,” Danta said. “The crowd really enjoyed the one point for every high option. In the handy course, the circle of the bales of hay was very creative on Bobby’s part. The horses all jumped it beautifully.”

Serio and Castlerock were untouchable during the two rounds of competition, and the rider earned the highest score of her career when the second panel of judges awarded her a 99 after an amazing second round.

“I watched everyone go and felt I had a good plan,” Serio said her of her second round. “I thought my horse was mentally and physically in a great place, and he is very reliable and consistent. I got in the zone and it all worked. It was a round of a lifetime. Everything came out perfectly. I can always criticize my rounds and I loved that round. I woke up at 5 a.m. the next day to watch it on video. I could not believe it and I still go over it jump by jump.”

Rounding out the list of the top 12 finishers were: Listen (rider Kelly Farmer, owner Jane Gaston); Jersey Boy (rider Jennifer Alfano, owner SBS Farms); Maui (rider Tiffany Cornacchio-Morrissey, owner Kate Goodman); World Time (rider Victoria Colvin, owner Scott Stewart); Declaration (rider Scott Stewart, owner Fashion Farm); Due West (rider Shane Sweetnam, owner Popish Farm); Sander (rider Kelsey Thatcher, owner Pony Lane Farm); Namesake (rider Maggie Jayne, owner Pony Lane Farm); and Bella Blue (rider Maggie Jayne, owner Pony Lane Farm).

The 2010 $100,000 The Chronicle of the Horse /USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals will be held Aug. 20-21 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.

The 2009/2010 USHJA International Hunter Derby Series is supported by the following sponsors: The Chronicle of the Horse – Title Sponsor; Dietrich Insurance-Presenting Sponsor; Charles Owen & Co.-Major Sponsor; Dover Saddlery-Major Sponsor; Essex Classics-Award Sponsor; The Clothes Horse-Award Sponsor.

A complete Derby schedule and more information can be found on the USHJA Derby website.

Contact: Melanie Frasen

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