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John French and Soldier Are Magnifique in the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby; Tara Metzner a Close Second Aboard Come Monday
San Juan Capistrano, CA - Known for setting derby courses with style and size, course designer Jasen Shelley returned to San Juan Capistrano to challenge competitors in today's $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. The honorable judges Chrystine Tauber and Penny Wahler made up Panel One, with Katie Frank and Keith Hastings sitting together as Panel Two.

Of the twenty-four entries, only five chose to take any of the four high options. A quarter had refusals, several at the viaduct wall. However, taking on the questions asked with aplomb, well-known high performance hunter riders John French and Tara Metzner held the top four spots on four different mounts going into the Handy Round. Jenny Karazissis aboard Y Wonder Y (owned by West Coast Equine Partners LLC) tied with French for the fourth spot. Katie Gardner, Tommi Clark, Mark Purcell, Hap Hansen as well as amateur rider Adrienne Dixon, were also in the hunt for the top prize.

John French and Soldier

Earning scores in the eighties and taking three of the four high option jumps gave French and Elizabeth Gabler's Soldier a slight edge. The pair had one more point than Metzner riding Davlyn Farms' Come Monday, who took no high options but scored a handsome 86 and 88. It was certain to be a tight race to the finish, as both horses have led Derby victory gallops this season.

The Handy Round caused its usual twists and turns, both on course and with the scores. Four horses had rails, including Meztner on Davlyn Farms' Fabricio and French on Kendra Rusinek's Winston who dropped from third and fourth to ninth and tenth. Karazissis jumped into third on Y Wonder Y, earning solid scores and handy points.

Riding for the win, Metzner and Come Monday were seemingly unbeatable, earning scores of 90+8 and 88+7 for a second-round total of 193 and a grand total of 367. Competitive and confident, French piloted Soldier over three of the four high options for six extra points, and also turned in an excellent round, 89+8 and 86+8 for a grand total of 372 and the victory by five points.

Soldier lives in Santa Barbara with his owner, Elizabeth Gabler, who trains with Corinne Bevis. Bevis jumped in to say, "Come Monday had such an amazing round, so I asked John if he could do something really exciting, like stand on his head or do something really crazy over the last jump. And he just looked and me and said, 'You just wait.'"

French, in his typically Zen-like demeanor, continued, "She was saying there's nothing you can do to win the class, because Come Monday is an amazing horse and just won down in Showpark. After her round it was like, hmmm, how are you going to beat that? So I just thought I had to be handier. I made one turn that nobody tried to do, angling the wishing wells, and he got his eye on it and exploded over the jump."

He finished by stating, "Definitely we are going back to Kentucky. We are going to show a bit before and then do the Derby Finals."

John French and Soldier (with owner Elizabeth Gabler) win the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby

Sunday offers an array of show jumping with the $7,500 CashCall Mortgage Futurity beginning at 11:15am and the $30,000 Blenheim June Classic Grand Prix, presented by St. Regis Monarch Beach, starting at 2:00pm. The excitement continues next week at the Blenheim June Classic III, with the new $5,000 iJump Team Challenge, presented by Bruno Delgrange, on Friday, June 20th and the $30,000 Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix on Sunday, June 22nd.


$10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby

Place - Number - Horse - Rider - Owner - Rd 1/Rd 2/Total
1 - 145 - Soldier - John French - Elizabeth Gabler - 175/197/372
2 - 338 - Come Monday - Tara Metzner - Davlyn Farms - 174/193/367
3 - 573 - Y Wonder Y - Jenny Karazissis - West Coast Equine Partners, LLC - 165/188/353
4 - 354 - Salto - John French - Meredith Mateo - 160/193/353
5 - 441 - Maldini - Katie Gardner - Star Lane Farms, LLC - 164.5/180/344.5
6 - 329 - Ramazzotti 54 - Adrienne Dixon - Adrienne Dixon - 153/188/341
7 - 456 - Anomaly - Hap Hansen - Shelly Lachow - 155/169/324
8 - 756 - Exemplar - Tommi Clark - Stephen Borders - 157/149/306
9 - 340 - Fabricio - Tara Metzner - Davlyn Farms - 171/114/285
10 - 718 - Winston - John French - Kendra Rusinek - 165/117/282
11 - 507 - Spendid - Jenny Karazissis - Julia Landmann - 164/113/277
12 - 694 - Bohemian - Mark Purcell - Leslie Scharf - 156/105/261

Photo courtesy of McCool



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