You may struggle to spell it, but if you spend any time in the hunter-jumper world you’ve heard the name Karazissis. It’s a family affair at their Far West Farms, and has been for almost five decades. Jenny and Kost Karazissis have been an integral part of the dynamic there for several decades, developing a long list of successful hunters and champion riders. Although they often get the opportunity to celebrate show ring victories, on April 13, 2018 Jenny and Kost smiled for presentation photos not just once, but twice.
One of the top hunter riders in the nation, Jenny is a role model for young riders. All her life, her goal was to be a professional, and she says without equivocation that she can’t imagine doing anything else. When she and Kost started dating in the early eighties, they decided that if they were going to make it as a couple, they’d better see if they could work together, so Jenny moved to Far West Farms. And by all accounts it seems to have worked out quite well!
Luck, as well as recognizable talent, were in the air on the morning of Friday. April 13th as the Handy Round of USHJA International Hunter Derby played out. Coming into the round in second place, Jenny (who has been dubbed the Derby Queen), moved up to win the prestigious class aboard Really, owned by Michelle Cobb. The pair finished with a two-round total of 390 points, topping John French (Jenny’s competitive counterpart, often called the Derby King), by a single point.
The Alan Lohman designed tracks on The Oaks International Grand Prix Field offered high option fences set up to 4’9″, combined with tight turns and spaces to gallop, and Jenny took full advantage of the extra points, taking all four high options in each round with ease. “This is Really’s first Derby win and he’s really special, he’s really relaxed,” Karazissis said of her appropriately named winning mount. “He has all the scope in the world, I never doubt him at the high options.”
In between the two rounds of competition, Kost Karazissis was awarded the Arthur J. Hawkins Award for Excellence for his continued support of the show hunter industry. He joins a growing list of talented horsemen and horsewomen who have won the award in previous years, beginning with his wife. During the first week of the Oaks Blenheim Spring Series in 2008, Jenny was the honored recipient of the first annual Arthur Hawkins award.
Constantine “Kost” Karazissis. Kost, as he’s known by his friends, was chosen for his long-standing support of the Show Hunter Industry and for the many champions he has and continuously brings to the ring. He thinks like a horse and teaches from the heart. He’s helped some of the best jumper riders on the West Coast, like Ashlee Bond. Riders Jamie Taylor, Katie Taylor, Clea Newman, Elizabeth Guerin, Kelly DiGioia, and Nina Vogel also trained under Kost.
As the day went on, Jenny put in two more impressive performances, earning fourth and seventh place ribbons on Big Shot and Legacy, respectively. “I’ve ridden Legacy for a few seasons now. He’s a great horse, very brave and very confident. This was only Big Shot’s second derby, so I was very pleased and impressed with him. Legacy and Really are already qualified for Derby Finals, so I’m planning to show them there, and I’d like to get Big Shot qualified to go as well.”
Before the day was done, Michelle Cobb was presented with the Balmoral Winning Owner Award, a trophy, and a USHJA-embroidered cooler and halter for her horse Really’s victory.
No just any show day, and certainly far from unlucky, this Friday the 13th turned out to be a banner day for Far West Farms and the Karazissis family.