Michael Desiderio and Cocolores Dominate $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at HITS-on-the-Hudson II :: HITS


Michael Desiderio and Cocolores Dominate $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby at HITS-on-the-Hudson II

Saugerties, N.Y. – June 3, 2023 – Riders returned to HITS Saugerties for the second derby day in THE Ring to compete in Saturday’s $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, while spectators gathered to watch under the comfort of the café's newly renovated outdoor seating area. Thirty horse and rider pairs displayed their mounts’ brilliance during the classic and handy rounds, where Michael Desiderio had a dominating performance, capturing the first and second place awards aboard Cocolores and Cromwell, respectively.

“We’ve had Cocolores for about a year-and-a-half,” said Desiderio. “He’s an easygoing horse and just a solid citizen. He does the Adult Hunters with his owner, Debbie Bianco, and then I do him in the 3’3’ Performance Hunters and some of the derbies that work into our schedule.”

Michael Desiderio and Cocolores. Photo by: ESI Photogaphy

The classic round offered four high options on bending lines placed throughout the arena. Twelve combinations were invited back for the handy round, which included four high options, several rollbacks, a trot fence and a bending line to the final large oxer near the gate.

Michael Desiderio and Cromwell. Photo by: ESI Photogaphy

The busiest rider of the day, all three of Desiderio’s horses came back for the handy round, with his third mount Bel Ami competing first of the three. After obtaining a first-round score of an 86, Desiderio and Bel Ami went on to acquire a 90 in the handy for a two-round total of 175, the fourth-highest score of the day. Jessica Barno and Cortado came next, and with an already impressive first-round score of 90, laid it down in the handy round. The two garnered a 91 to secure a combined 181, which would hold up for third place. Following Cortado’s round, Desiderio had two back-to-back rides remaining, beginning with Cromwell. While Desiderio and Cromwell had a successful handy round and moved to the top of the standings with an impressive 93, resulting in a combined total of 184.5, it was Cocolores who wowed the judges with slick inside turns to top the leaderboard.

Jessica Barno and Cortado. Photo by: ESI Photogaphy

“I was just looking for tighter options as I went through on each horse,” Desiderio explained. “On [Cocolores], I ended up coming through the turn, caught the oxer a little bit slower than I would've ideally liked to do, but it opened up an inside turn that came up and worked out in our favor.”

Desiderio and Cocolores ended up attaining a second-round score of 94, leaving them as the day’s victors with a combined 185. Overall, it was a successful day for Desiderio and his clients Debbie Bianco and Allison Cederberg, who are all pleased with the upgrades to the arenas at HITS.

Michael Desiderio and Cocolores. Photo by: ESI Photography

“We come here a lot, and it's amazing,” Desiderio included. “The grounds are totally different. The footing is amazing. Sharn and Craig have done an amazing job, and our clients are very happy.”

Competition will continue for one more week of the Spring Series as part of the complete HITS-on-the-Hudson season, which runs through September at the world-class facility. The final week of the Saugerties Spring Series will feature a $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby Classics in the Short Stirrup division, through Junior and Amateur-Owner Hunters highlight hunter competition every week, which include qualifiers for the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League Finals.