Thermal, CA - The lights were shining brightly on Friday evening when the $10,000 Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby took the stage in the magnificent Grand Prix ring at the HITS Desert Horse Park, in Thermal, California.
Forty-one pairs went after the top prize in the class and in the end it was Yellow Dog Farm's Crown Affair, ridden by John French (San Juan Batista, California), who stole the glory before an enthusiastic crowd that surrounded the berms and filled the Oasis VIP Club.
French, who is regarded as one of the premier hunter riders in the world, was not done yet! With six horses in the class, he also guided Jessie Singer's Cruise to the red ribbon en route to collecting $5,000 in total prize money. "I am blessed to have such great horses to ride," said French. "Everything seemed to go right tonight. Both horses loved to gallop in the big arena. It was a great course built by John Manning. He let the horses decide the outcome."
"The main character of the Derby was the incredible 300’-by-400’ arena that spread out the course with only two related distances," said Manning. "The big ring does well in recreating a hunt field image that the class was designed for."
The top 12 pairs came back for Manning's Handy Course, which featured a bounce, rollbacks, options and a hand gallop to test the horses and riders from an entirely different perspective.
For French, winning the hunter derby is nothing new this winter, as he won the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby during Desert Circuit I aboard Over the Moon.
Also excelling in the $10,000 Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby was Jessie Lang (Jackson, Wyoming), who grabbed the yellow ribbon in the irons of Margrot Snowdown's C. Quito. Taking fourth place was Jenny Karazissis (Calabasas, California), who rode Holly Scapa's Bingo Bongo, while Melissa Doddridge (Tustin, California) piloted Pamela Doddridge's Bentley to a fifth-place finish to round out the top five in the class.
Hunter riders will get another chance to compete in a special hunter derby during Desert Circuit IV when the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby returns on Sunday, February 28.
This winter, the all-new Devoucoux Hunter Derby will be a featured event at both the HITS Desert Circuit and the HITS Ocala Winter Circuit in Ocala, Florida, and represents the 13th division to count for points in the Marshall & Sterling League. In addition to the $10,000 classes at HITS winter shows in Thermal and Ocala, qualifying classes for the Devoucoux Hunter Derby will also be offered at the HITS Culpeper and HITS Saugerties shows this spring and summer. HITS has also invited a select number of additional horse shows in the Northeast to add the Devoucoux Hunter Derby to their show schedules which will help facilitate the growth of the class and provide further qualifying opportunities for the Marshall & Sterling League National Finals. The Devoucoux Derby Finals will be offered at the 2010 Marshall & Sterling League National Finals on September 16-19 in Saugerties, New York
Show Jumping at HITS Thermal continues all weekend with Desert Circuit III and features two more qualifiers for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, including the $50,000 HITS CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, tonight in the indoor arena and Sunday's $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
In order to qualify for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, a rider must compete in eight or more HITS Grand Prix classes. The top 40 riders, based on money won by horse/rider combination, will be eligible to ride for the Pfizer Million. For more detailed information on the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, please visit our website at HitsShows.com.
HITS, Inc. produces high-quality, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS has been producing shows since 1982 and is now a nationwide company with world-class circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia. In 2010, HITS will take the industry to new heights when it hosts the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix in Saugerties on September 12.
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com.
$10,000 Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby
PLACING- HORSE-RIDER-OWNER-PRIZE MONEY
1 Crown Affair John French Yellow Dog Farm LLC. $3,000
2 Cruise John French Jessie Singer $2,000
3 C. Quito Jessie Lang Margorot Snowdon $1,400
4 Bingo Bongo Jenny Karazissis Holly Scapa $1,000
5 Bentley Melissa Doddrige Pamela Doddridge $800
6 Play Through Hope Glynn Richard Mazess $700
7 Weatherly Hope Glynn Sovereign Farms $600
8 Grandada Callie Selchau Nick Haness $500
Photo Credits: John French on course in the $10,000 Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby. © Flying Horse Photography
John French is congratulated after winning the $10,000 Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby. © Flying Horse Photography