Mandarin Shines in the Moonlight at the Scottsdale $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby

It was one of those perfect Arizona evenings that the Scottsdale chamber of commerce wishes they could bottle and sell. March 21st, the first day of spring, featured sunny highs in the low 80’s. By the time the first horse in the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby came to the ring that evening, it had cooled down to a shirtsleeves 75. A full moon rose glorious and round over the McDowell Mountains, and all in all it was a perfect setting for the big event.

California professional Peter Lombardo had the best of it, taking three spots in the top twelve. He returned last to the ring in the handy round on Mandarin, Jane Fraze’s wonderful amateur hunter. Mandarin, 13, has an impressive array of honors in his resume. The chestnut gelding has been champion just about everywhere he’s gone, earning high-point awards from Thermal to Devon and everywhere in between. Those championships included 2005 USEF horse of the year in Regular Conformation. The leader at the end of the first round, Mandarin returned last for the handy. The big outdoor arena measures 360’x180’, and Chris Collman’s imaginative course used every bit of it. The course gave riders the opportunity to gallop from the gate to the first jump, a big oxer. The course finished as it had begun, with a long gallop toward home to yet another large oxer. Lombardo showed off for the crowd to that last fence, letting Mandarin open his stride all the way up. Lombardo never touched the reins, and Mandarin soared to an impressive victory. Lombardo also earned third in the class with Ashley Pride’s Chaucer.

Second in the class was George Dixon’s Calvin K, with Kim Dixon up. Unlike many show horses, Calvin K, 4th-placed last year in Zone 8 Regular Working Hunters, does not live the pampered life. Instead, he lives outside in the high country of the Colorado Rockies, reveling in the clean air and wide-open spaces. Good hunters are where you find them. Dixon, a professional from Carbondale, Colorado, traded a Harley motorcycle for the gray gelding. Dixon had intended Calvin K to be a jumper, but the gelding by Chinto doesn’t like going fast. “You could do the regular working, and then walk into the meter thirty and he’ll jump around – but he always has time faults,” said Dixon, laughing.

Arizona trainer Tim Herrick took fourth aboard Chloe Parker’s Aristotle, and Tina Dilandri earned fifth with Ashley Pride’s Truly. Dilandri, who also finished seventh on Wesley, had some bad luck in the first round. The junior from Scottsdale, Arizona sat in ninth when they came back for the second go. She and Truly redeemed themselves in the handy with an averaged score of 90.5, second only to Mandarin’s 92.5. Truly was fresh from a circuit reserve championship in Thermal in the 15-under large juniors, with owner Ashley Pride up.

The series sponsors, ASG Software Solutions, Walsh Harness and Saddlery, and Dietrich Insurance, were joined in Scottsdale by Pat and Jennie Carlton and their Fast Lane Farms. This was the first of the USHJA International Hunter Derbies ever to be held in Arizona. It most certainly will not be the last.

Overall results

horse rider owner:

  1. Mandarin, Peter Lombardo, Jane Fraze, Tucson, Arizona
  2. Calvin K, Kim Dixon, George Dixon, Carbondale, Colorado
  3. Chaucer, Peter Lombardo, Ashley Pride, Medina, Washington
  4. Aristotle, Tim Herrick, Chloe Parker, Paradise Valley, Arizona
  5. Truly, Tina Dilandri, Ashley Pride, Medina, Washington
  6. Ja’Loup, Tim Herrick, Dr. Marlee Hoffman, Paradise Valley, Arizona
  7. Wesley, Tina Dilandri, Ashley Pride, Medina, Washington
  8. Ticho, Kristin Hardin, Valerie Dunn Rasmussen, New Cuyama, California
  9. Bimini, Laurie Jueneman, Devon Wright, Vail, Colorado
  10. Zambezi, Gretchen Lof, King’s Wood Farm, Paradise Valley, Arizona
  11. Chapman, Peter Lombardo, Jane Fraze, Tucson, Arizona
  12. Bigelo, Becky Warner, Tally Nathan, Paradise Valley, Arizona

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