As the temperature went up into the 90's, so did the scores in the Dixon Oval on day one of Senior Week. John French who flew 3,000 miles from California to ride just one horse was the first rider in the winner's circle with his incredibly athletic horse Truman. To French, "There is nothing more exciting than to come to Devon which is so prestigious, has such a great atmosphere, and to see where you stack up against these other horses, and what you have. One of the best things about this show is having one ring devoted to the top horses, where everybody is watching.....most of the time (in other venues) people don't get to watch, but here all the top professionals are going to be watching."
French has won this very same First Year Green class 3 times in the last 4 years but says that there is something quite special about Truman. "I bought him right before Thermal, and only showed him once or twice in the Pre-Greens and moved him right up to the First Year Green division the second half of Thermal. He has one of the best minds. For him to just to go in there today, in the first class and never spook...he really tries to do a good job. He's a horse that's going to go on for a long time and be a famous horse, I know he is."
Successful horses are something John knows more than a little bit about. At Tuesday evening's National Show Hunter Hall of Fame Annual Awards Dinner, two of the horses he rode last year were voted as the best in their divisions by his peers. Small Affair will receive the First Year Green Horse of the Year Award, and Rumba will receive the Second Year Green Horse of the Year Award.
Speaking of Rumba (winner of the Inaugural International Hunter Derby Finals with French in the irons), John will head back to Kentucky for the 2010 Hunter Derby Finals, as well as ride in the WEG Hunter Derby Demonstration this coming fall aboard the beautiful bay stallion Crown Affair. The Place To Be Is By The River's Edge
Scott Stewart of River's Edge Farm in Flemington, New Jersey spent a lot of time at the head of the jog today garnering first or second in 5 out of 7 of the over fences classes starting with a class winning score of 90 on Blessed in the First Year Green Working Hunters. It didn't stop there. Stewart posted a 92 on Way Cool in the Second Year Green Working Hunters and a 90 on Declaration in the Regular Conformation Hunters.
The Place To Be Is By The River's Edge
Stewart, like French, will be on hand at Tuesday evening's National Show Hunter Hall of Fame Awards to pick up the Regular Conformation Horse of the Year Award for Declaration. Stewart appreciates the nod by his peers, "He had a successful indoors last year (Grand Hunter Champion at Washington), and I think to be recognized for that is great since the trainers all vote, so that's really nice."
As for Way Cool, Stewart almost didn't show him today as he had already done so well with his 12 year old protégé Victoria Colvin over Junior Weekend. "I was so nervous because he had done so well with Tory, I think that was the best round he's ever had (92). "It was pointed out that Tory had also gotten a 92, to which Stewart responded, "Thank God! No pressure there!"
Blessed, Stewart's newest Fashion Farm ride was "a little bit green in the first class, but in the second class (90), I thought she was great. She only did 5 shows at Palm Beach, and then Old Salem last week. She was pretty good about everything here. I was so pleased with her." Barn Restoration Project
Both Stewart and French have their horses stabled in barns that are part of the Barn Restoration Program at Devon. On the outside of Stewart's barn number 7 there is a bronze plaque that reads, "Dedicated in loving memory of Devon champions True and Dynamic by Fashion Farm." Stewart says, "It's a good memory of those two horses that did so well here."
Barn Restoration Project
Glen Senk of Fashion Farm explains why he feels so strongly about giving back to Devon. "This barn is dedicated to my horses Dynamic and True who were both champions at Devon and who both passed away. They stayed in this barn many times, and I have wonderful memories of them at Devon over the years, so this is dedicated to them, and all the River's Edge horses will live here happily."
French keeps Truman in fellow Californian Archie Cox's restored barn at Devon. When asked why he feels so strongly about the restoration project, Cox replied, "Participating in the barn restoration project was awesome. To be a part of Devon history is so exciting. When I think of the amazing, famous horses that have walked through these barns, I smile. My customers, my friends and I think it is so important to give back to the sport that gives us all so much."
Photos: Truman & John French, John French & Truman, Blessed & Scott Stewart, Scott Stewart & Declaration, True & Dynamic Plaque