John French and Center Court Lead By Example in the USHJA International Hunter Derby - Waldenbrook Farm - John French
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John French and Center Court Lead By Example in the USHJA International Hunter Derby

Originally published by Sonoma Horse Park

Spectators packed the Sonoma Horse Park berm to watch the USHJA International Hunter Derby. Thirtyone riders took to the Equine Insurance Arena to vie for the top spot. John French once again was riding the wonderful Center Court owned by Kristen Hiller. With a leading score of 186.5 in the first round and a 206 in the handy round, this pair of seasoned professionals won with a total score of 392.5

John French brought us up to date on the last year and what has been happening with Billy (Center Court) “He is just coming back from an injury. Last summer he tripped one day in the ring and had an injury up front and he also had been having some breathing issues that we had been dealing with. So Billy has not been with me over the past year, he has been in San Diego with Crystal getting fit and strong, while being close to his veterinarian Dr. Philippe Benoit. At first we were not sure that he was going to come back but the team have done a really great job. He has come back a good bit thinner, as he used to carry a bit too much weight. So this is his first show in a year after treatment.”

French continued and shared his original plans for their return to the show ring, “We arrived at the show and as I had not seen him in a really long time, I thought we would just go into the smaller classes. I thought maybe we will just do the 3’6″ Performance Hunter, something just to get him back in the ring being the first show back. I jumped him around the first day and he just acts like he has been doing this for ever, so I thought, the 3’6″ it is too small for him. This horse loves to jump a big jump so I decided that I would have to show him in the High Performance where he really shines, and he ended up Champion this week. We were hoping that he would be able to do the Derby. Tonight it was nice because he seemed so fresh having had a year off. He never touched a jump in both rounds and he was jumping amazing, not only in the ring but in the warm up area. It was great to get back on him again and I felt super relaxed and I could just tell he wanted to win it and he did.”

Karli Postel and Get Rowdy, made a gallant bid to win however they a first round score of 181 and a Handy Hunter score of 207 gave them the blue ribbon with a total score of 388. Third place went to Jenny Karazissis on Swagger, scoring 185 in the Classic round and 198 in the Handy Hunter round for a total score of 383. 

©Grand Pix

Results: The Lindemann-Barnett Family USHJA International Hunter Derby