Pletcher Claims Second $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Challenge Derby Win in a Row Aboard Argentum
RELEASE: April 11, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Mike Lowry
After winning the Hunter Derby at Pin Oak, Peter Pletcher and Argentum took home the Gold for the second time in two weeks, winning the $10,000 United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) International Hunter Challenge Derby Classic at the Spring Gathering Horse Show in the Houston suburb of Katy, TX.
The class was held under the lights in the main arena at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. An enthusiastic crowd cheered their favorites as 23 entries competed over the first round-track set by Patrick Rodes. The veteran hunter course designer commented, “Since this is the only time these horses show in this ring this week, I tried to create a fairly straightforward, classic style course for the first round.” The course incorporated lots of brush and natural obstacles and proved to ride well, with only a few horses incurring major faults.
Two panels of two judges each scored the class. Scores were moderate until the ninth horse in the order, when Will Roberts piloted Jamie Jarvis’ Sidekick to earn scores of 85 and 86 for a two-round total of 171. Six rounds later, Tracy Fenny and MTM Farm’s MTM Namesake upped the ante with scores of 89 and 90 for a total of 179. Tammy Chipko and All That followed up immediately with scores 87 and 88 for a 175. Two horses later, Pletcher and Argentum matched Chipko’s total of 175, scoring 90 and 85. Peter rode Becky Gochman’s Tuscan Sun to wrap up the first round and, with scores of 84 and 87, tied with Roberts at 171. The first round ended with two ties being broken using the scores from the first panel of judges. The top 12 horses were then pinned and slated to return for the second round.
The second round was conducted under standard hunter derby format. Returning in reverse order of first round-scores, competitors were scored normally and then were optionally awarded up to 10 bonus points for handiness.
Well known for his handy hunter courses, Rodes provided a second round-test with plenty of handy options: multiple rollbacks, a trot fence, hand gallop fence and a triple combination “chute” featuring a walk jump to a trot jump to a canter jump. The course proved too difficult for two of the first three competitors, who were eliminated and received no score for the second round.
As the second round progressed, the rides kept getting better. Roberts and Sidekick scored 88 + 7 and 87 + 9, for a second round total of 191 and overall total of 362, leading the second round and overall scores. Pletcher and Tuscan Sun then scored 87 + 9 and 86 + 10 for 192 and 363, taking over the lead in both. Chipko and All That scored 86 + 7 and 86.5 + 9 for 188.5 and 363.5, third in the second round and the overall lead. Pletcher and Argentum then scored 89 + 9 and 85 + 10 for 193 and 368 and the lead in both. The last to go were Fenny and MTM Namesake. The second round atmosphere proved too much for the six-year-old Swedish Warmblood, and after incurring a refusal on course the duo scored 35 + 4 and 35 + 2 for 76 and 255, leaving Pletcher and Argentum at the top.
Argentum is a six-year-old grey Oldenburg gelding owned by Alta Basaldua of Kingwood, TX. Pletcher is a three-time World Champion Hunter rider, a native of Houston who resides in Magnolia, TX. The class was graciously sponsored by his parents, Claudine and George Pletcher.