John French and Davlyn Farms Come Monday put their second score of 90 up on the scoreboard in the First Year Green Handy Hunter to start Day 2 of the Open Hunter competition off in the Dixon Oval besting the second place effort by Louise Serio aboard Lisa Scott's Head Over Heals by a margin of five points. This is the second consecutive day that the duo has posted the highest scoring trip of the day.
French of San Jose, California and the 8-year-old 17-hand bay mare by Cassini 1 have a brief but illustrious history together. "I purchased "Gracie" in Florida for Gail Morey right before WEF started through my friend Rolf Bauersachs. We quickly brought her back to Californiawhere we only had her at home for a couple of weeks before we took her to Thermal. She was Champion the first two weeks, sold, and then I got to ride her again for the new owners the third week when she was Champion again. When I returned from showing at WEF for two weeks, I showed her again during week five at Thermal and she was Champion again, and I haven't shown her since then."
French, who thought he would be sitting out Devon as a rider for the first time in years, was thrilled to get a call from Come Monday's trainer Christa Endicott of Pegasus Show Stables asking French to ride his old partner for them at Devon. "I only rode her again for the first time on Saturday. I felt bad for her the other day, Christa was here with the ponies and it was hot and Gracie had to be here all Junior week since she came with the ponies. So I said to Christa 'I'm going to take Gracie to a farm for a couple of days. She doesn't' want to be here all week long, she wants to go and be turned out.' So we took her over to Troy Hendricks' place. I went out on Saturday and Christa and her groom were busy, so I took care of her myself and got to ride her over a course and get the feel of her again. She was great. The bigger the jumps the spookier the better, she's super brave."
One wonders how this big girl with such a big step could be so handy. "She's kind of big to be handy, but she spends a lot of time in the air, so at least you get a chance to get turning on the landing. She jumps so high and slow that on the landing side you can turn her. Somebody said to me today that she was like riding a Porsche compared to these other horses, and I said not a Porsche...more like a Rolls Royce."
For French, the long trip from California to the Dixon Oval is well worth the effort. "Devon is such a great show. The best of the best horses are here, and when you have a horse like her that you know has a good shot at it, it's nice to come here. It's particularly nice to win on a horse that you have started. I know plenty of people have come up to Christa and asked her where she got that horse. I'm kind of sad that we sold her, but on the other hand it's good when you have a horse like that and people know that it came from and started with you."