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Kelly McKnight and Zan Chin Winner, $2,500 1.20M Open Speed Derby

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Kelly McKnight and Zan Chin (Jane Hind, owner), sponsored by Circa 23, not only blazed through the new $2,500 1.20M Open Speed Derby, they did it in unusual style: in a leather halter. “I really wanted to support the class,” Kelly recalled. “I have the perfect horse for it. She's so fast, and at 1.20M or 1.30M if I don't make too many mistakes nobody will catch her. We walked the course and made a plan, and she did it exactly as we walked it. She proved hard to beat that day, just got up to speed and never took back. She nailed every jump.”

Kelly had nothing but praise for the derby. “I think this is a great class. Derbies are my all-time favorite, so of course I’m happy they’ll have a derby at every show. It is a great class for the crowd, and I really think we need to schedule crowd-pleasing classes that bring spectators out or at least get the folks at the show to stay and watch!”

As for riding the mare in a halter, he added, “The halter is what she goes best in in the show ring. I do hack in a bridle and draw reins a bit, but when jumping everything is too sharp: she reacts by lifting her head and hollowing or getting flat on top of the jumps and going up and down instead of forward. With the halter she gets to a cruise control, and I simply guide and suggest a track and try to stay out of her way and let her go to the jumps like a laser. She seems to like it that way. We mostly ride on the trail in between shows, in a halter.”

The Speed Derby is the newest offering at Woodside this year and it got off to great acclaim.