Peter Pletcher Wins $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Pin Oak Charity Horse Show Presented by Valobra Jewelry and Antiques
RELEASE: April 1, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Stacey Meier
Content provided by Pin Oak Charity Horse Show and Kathryn Smith, Smith and Sacco Public Relations
Katy, TX— Peter Pletcher of Magnolia, TX, was the overall winner on Alta Basaldua’s Argentum of the $15,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by Valobra Jewelry and Antiques of Houston. This was a member event of the ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by Dietrich Insurance, featuring Walsh Harness & Saddlery – and it was held on March 27 during the 64th Pin Oak Charity Horse Show. This year’s show is presented by BBVA Compass at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center just outside of Houston, Texas.
Presented by Valobra Jewelry and Antiques, the stunning ringside reception was a nod to the rich heritage and sport of show hunters. Under a perfectly appointed ringside sponsors club, elegantly attired guests dined on Italian cuisine and sipped Moet Chandon champagne while enjoying classical music and an exhibition from the Longacre Hunt Club featuring a pack of American, Crossbred and Penn-Mary Del hounds. Show officials arrived in a traditional carriage pulled by a gypsy vanner horse.
“It was the quintessential hunter derby for our sponsors and guests,” said Lynn Walsh, president of the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show, “and a Pin Oak evening that will long be recalled for its elegance and style. We are so grateful to Valobra Jewelry and Antiques for helping us offer a ringside party that was so spectacular. We had many first-time horse show guests in attendance, and I think they really enjoyed the experience. It was so exciting to actually see a large crowd of people present to watch a hunter event, and to cheer for the riders so enthusiastically.”
Walsh’s horse, Ocean Park, was also ridden in the Derby by Pletcher.
The USHJA Derby Series was developed to bring the lost art of tradition and horsemanship back to the show ring. It was created to bring show hunters to the international level; to increase spectator, media and sponsorship interest; and to bring tradition and basic riding principles back to the sport of showing hunters. The USHJA Series consists of 48 qualifying events held over 18 months, culminating in a Series Final in August 2009. Each qualifying event offers a minimum of $10,000 in prize money, with $100,000 being offered at the finals. The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show was proud to be one of the venues for one of these special Hunter Derbies.
In the USHJA Hunter Derby format, the qualifying events consist of two courses – a traditional hunter classic course and a handy hunter course. Obstacles simulate those reminiscent of the traditional foxhunting hunt field. Fence heights are 3’6” to 4’0,” with a minimum of four 4’0” fence options in each round. Two teams of judges with two judges per team scores the riders. There is a minimum of 10 fences in Round I (judged on style and brilliance) and the top 12 horses from the first round are invited back for the handy round. The courses are built to encourage and reward brilliance and daring from the rider and true athletic ability from the horses. The handy round is judged on style, brilliance and handiness (i.e. versatility) – with a potential maximum of 20 bonus points awarded to each rider for overall handiness. The horse-and-rider combination scoring the most cumulative points earned in the two combined rounds wins the overall classic, although the top 12 riders in each round are awarded prizes (through 12th place) as well.
Pletcher, who captured the overall classic on Argentum (owned by Alta Basaldua of Kingwood, TX), is no stranger to winning – he’s a three-time winner of the prestigious Monarch International Professional World Championship Hunter Rider title, and a renowned hunter/jumper trainer. But Pletcher faced 23 determined challengers on this particular day, with everyone’s eyes on the lucrative prize.
Pletcher says he was "thrilled" with the win on Argentum (whose nickname is "Gem"), an eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding that was purchased by Basaldua last year while she was showing on the winter horse show circuit in Thermal, CA, with Pletcher's stable. "Gem" was the winning horse last year at the Hunter Derby at Pin Oak.
"This horse has such an unbelievable jump," Pletcher said of Gem, "so I knew he could be the winner if he could just use the jump that he has, stay calm and hold it all together."
It was a close win with Melanie Barnes's mare Camira, also ridden by Pletcher, coming in second. Russell Frey on Susie Baker's Tell All was a close third. Pletcher had praise for his two highest-finishing students in the Classic- Kate Gibson was fourth on her gelding, Charity, and her daughter Carson Gibson was seventh riding her large junior hunter, Caden. Course designer Patrick Rhodes of Dallas, also received kudos from Pletcher.
"Overall, it was a really good course," said Pletcher. "I thought it was so well-planned, with an outdoor feel for an indoor ring. So I think Patrick did a fantastic job of where he set those jumps in that ring. It rode picture-perfect."
The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show concluded on Sunday, March 29. For a complete list of results, visit the show's website at www.pinoak.org. Sponsors of the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show included Presenting Sponsor BBVA Compass, Walter Oil Company, Houston Area Audi Dealers Nordic Lights Farm, Bisso Marine Co, Inc. Chrysalis Counseling Center, Energy XXI, Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Texas Monthly, Channel 13 ABC TV, Cowboys & Indians Magazine, Dillard's, Gulf States Four Star Trailers, Lansdowne Moody, McDonald's Corporation, Neiman Marcus, Par Avion, LTD., RE/MAX of Texas, Texas Farm & Ranch Magazine, Moet Chandon Champagne and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. The Pin Oak Charity Horse Show is a 501-(c)(3) organization and a member of the USEF "AA" Rated Texas Hunter Jumper Association, an American Hunter/Jumper Federation World Championship Hunter Rider Event, Marshall & Sterling League and part of the NAL and Washington International Horse Show qualifying series.
For more information, including photo requests, please contact Kathryn Smith, Smith & Sacco Public Relations (713) 627-8777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org; Lynn Walsh, President, Pin Oak Charity Horse Show (281) 467-2182 or email email@example.com; Wendy Cook, Executive Director, Pin Oak Charity Horse Show (713) 621-6290 firstname.lastname@example.org.