Seeing Double for Nick Haness and HH Elmo
Nick Haness’s partnership with HH Elmo just keeps getting better. Just seven days after he won the $100,000 WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular with Lindsay Maxwell’s 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Verdi x Padinus), he took top honors yet again, this time in the $65,000 Butet USHJA International Hunter Derby Regional Championships during National Sunshine Series II.
It’s no surprise that the horse is picking up so many accolades with Haness aboard. The horse has a proven record in the jumpers and has made a flawless transition into the hunter rings, while Haness has swept some major victories across the nation in recent months.
“HH Elmo is an extremely fun horse to ride,” Haness said. “He has all the things you look for in a hunter: he has the stride, the scope, the looks, the movement, and perfect technique over the jumps. This is a very seasoned horse who’s competed all over the world. Every time he comes out for competition he knows when it’s an important class and he always tries to rise to the top.”
Similar to the pair’s last victory, they led wire-to-wire, taking the top score of 189 from the two panels of judges in round one, then returning and sealing the deal with a 205.5 in the handy round for the win.
The course was built for the occasion by Thomas Hern, featuring beautiful fences and difficult high options, but HH Elmo was prepared for the challenge, especially considering his roots in show jumping. “Having the jumper background comes in handy for a class like today where the jumps were built very large,” Haness continued. “Having that ability and knowledge makes him really fun, especially in the handy round because you can turn sharp and challenge him a bit. He always just sails over the jumps.”
Joining Haness atop the podium was Nicole Bourgeois with McQueen, owned by Barbara Lovre, on a total score of 376. Chelsea Brittner and Kaylin Faidi’s Berry De Maillet rounded out the top three on a score of 375.
“I particularly loved that the last jump was a long run to an oxer by the judges,” Haness said regarding Hern’s course. “I love to gallop so it was a fun way to end the course and show the judges I wanted to win the class. He jumped brilliantly.”
Haness has been all over the world as of late as his career highs keep getting higher, but he never forgets where he’s from. “I’ve taken a lot of flights the last few months between the East Coast, Europe, and back to California,” he remarked. “My roots are here in California and I’m excited to be back here competing, however we had a very successful and fun tour on the East Coast and buying new horses in Europe.”