Thermal, CA - John French took out his top gun on Sunday afternoon for the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby when he rode Yellow Dog LLC's Crown Affair to the blue ribbon to conclude Desert Circuit IV at the HITS Desert Horse Park, in Thermal, California.
French (Gilroy, California) scored a 90 in the first round on the course set by John Manning which featured several long approaches with plenty of room to gallop, a brush box and a coop. Then in the handy round which had several inside turn options and a hand gallop to the last jump, French posted an 86 for a two-round total of 176 to win his second $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby of the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit. The duo also won the $10,000 Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby during Desert Circuit III.
"Crown Affair is an incredible jumper," said French. "He is my kind of ride because he goes around the ring so smoothly. Having the weekly Derby gives us something to look forward to. Plus, the prize money is great."
French and Crown Affair were able to hold off Melissa Doddridge (Tustin, California) who put the heat on when she rode Pamela Doddridge's Bentley to an 87 in the handy round, to go along with an 88 in the first round to finish with a combined score 175, finishing in second place.
Doddridge, who won the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby during Desert Circuit II, had an incredible afternoon placing third aboard Delux and fourth aboard Best Man to collect $4,400 in total prize money for the three ribbons that she collected in the class.
Rounding out the top five in the two-round classic was Alexandra Ladove's Homecoming, ridden by French. The accomplished hunter rider had two horses in the money collecting $3,800 in prize money.
This year, the all-new Devoucoux Hunter Derby is 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 also will 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 the HITS Desert Circuit will resume Tuesday with Desert Circuit V. The $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby returns on Sunday, March 7. HITS Thermal also will feature two more qualifiers for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, including the $50,000 HITS CSI-W Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, on Saturday night in the indoor arena.
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.
Sunday's $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby
PLACING - HORSE - RIDER - OWNER - PRIZE MONEY
1 Crown Affair John French Yellow Dog LLC $3,000
2 Bentley Melissa Doddridge Pamela Doddridge $2,000
3 Delux Melissa Doddridge Melissa Doddridge $1,400
4 Best Man Melissa Doddridge Melissa Doddridge $1,000
5 Homecoming John French Alexandra Ladove $800
6 Destino Lesann LeClaire Barbara Roux $700
7 My Way Diane Yeager Karrie Ruffer $600
8 Upendo John Bragg John McGraw $500
Photo Credits: John French and Crown Affair in the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby. © Flying Horse Photography
John French is congratulated after winning the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby. © Flying Horse Photography