Nick Haness and Cortese Capture High Performance 3’9’’ Conformation Hunter Championship at Temecula Valley National Premier

Temecula, Ca. – April 17, 2019 – The second day of World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week at the Temecula Valley National Premier kicked off in winning fashion Wednesday morning as champions were crowned in the grass AON Grand Hunter Arena. Nick Haness and Cortese nearly swept the High Performance 3’9’’ Conformation Hunter division to claim the championship tricolor, while Ilana Halpern and KF Pretty Much took home reserve champion honors. In the High Performance 3’9’’ Hunters, it was Jamie Taylor aboard Dauntless that rode away with the championship, and reserve champion was awarded to Michelle Morris and Ka-Ching.

Nick Haness and Cortese
Nick Haness and Cortese

During Tuesday’s portion of the division, local rider-trainer Haness and Cortese, owned by West Coast Equine Partners, LLC, earned two first place awards and a second place to set themselves up as the leaders headed into Wednesday’s competition. Haness and the 9-year-old Westphalian gelding secured the championship after claiming both first place ribbons for their score of 81 in the first over fences round and an impressive score of 88 for their skills in the handy.

No stranger to the winner’s circle, Haness clinched the High Performance 3’6’’ Hunter championship as well as the Performance/High Performance 3’3’’/3’6’’ championship during last year’s inaugural Temecula Valley National Horse Show (TVNHS) aboard his long-time partner, Saphir. As a local rider-trainer and hometown favorite, Haness adds another tricolor to his repertoire of TVNHS accolades after Wednesday’s championship.

Ilana Halpern and KF Pretty Much
Ilana Halpern and KF Pretty Much

The reserve champion was awarded to Halpern and KF Pretty Much, owned by Kristian Lupinski. After earning a first, second, and third place Tuesday, Halpern and the 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding rode to two second place finishes Wednesday morning after receiving scores of 79 and 81 from the judges.

In the High Performance 3’9’’ Hunter division, Taylor rode Dauntless, owned by Gabrielle Sokolow, to the championship. During Tuesday’s portion of competition, the pair earned third place and two fourth place finishes to set themselves up for the second half of the division. Taylor and Dauntless ultimately took home the tricolor after receiving scores of 83 and 87 Wednesday morning to claim two first place ribbons, effectively securing their lead.

Jamie Taylor and Dauntless
Jamie Taylor and Dauntless

Reserve champions, Morris and Ka-Ching, owned by Melissa Sklenar, earned scores of 75 and 84 Wednesday morning to receive fourth and second place, respectively. Combined with Tuesday’s portion of the division, during which the pair received a first, second, and third place, the day’s results were enough to clinch the reserve champion tricolor.

Hunter competition in Temecula continues Thursday, April 18, featuring the highly-anticipated $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by Great American Insurance, set to take place in the Audi Grand Prix Arena, presented by Evergate Stables.

Nick Haness and Cortese
Nick Haness and Cortese


Nick Haness – High Performance 3’9’’ Conformation Hunter champion

On the class:
“Both days it was great fun showing on this beautiful grass field. The scenery is to die for, you couldn’t ask for more beautiful scenery and set-up here. The horses have really enjoyed the grass and the beautiful elements on course.”

On Cortese:
“Cortese is a wonderful, really fun horse. We got him earlier this year and have been developing him along in the High Performance Conformation division, and he also doubles in the Amateur-Owner division. He’s a really fun, brave horse, and a field like this is really where he shines. He really enjoys the new jumps, beautiful tracks, bending lines and bright flowers; he’s having a great time! We’ve started him in the international hunter derbies, so our plan is to get him qualified for Derby Finals in Kentucky this year.”

On showing at the Temecula Valley National Premier:
“I’m super excited to be here yet again; I was here last year when the show started. We’ve enjoyed supporting them and they’ve just come back full throttle this year. The team has done a great job upping their game and making sure that not only the exhibitors are happy, but the show experience in total is great.”

For more information about the TVNHS, visit

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