Dynamite Derby with John French and Keri Potter Wins Featured Grand Prix at HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, CA
RELEASE: February 4, 2010
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By HITS Media Team
Photo by Flying Horse Photography (Keri Potter and Rockford I)
The all-new Devoucoux Hunter Derby kicked off with a bang at the 2010 HITS Desert Circuit when one of the top hunter riders in the country, John French, piloted Victoria Komisar’s Over the Moon to the inaugural win in the $10,000 Devoucoux Derby on the West Coast.
French of Gilroy, CA, had the highest score in both the first and second rounds of the popular 3'3" class that featured 29 starters on a course set by John Manning, which included trot jumps and rollbacks to challenge the competitors.
"The new Hunter Derbies show really good initiative on the part of the organizers," said French. "They will enrich the quality of the circuit as a whole. It will become an indispensable stepping stone for younger horses and riders."
French, who has more than 40 horses at HITS Thermal for the six-week circuit, said he enjoys the hunters being showcased each Sunday. "I bet on some weeks there will be 100 (entries) in that class," he continued. "That kind of prize money each week is terrific."
The blue didn’t seem to be enough for French. He rode six horses in the first edition of the Devoucoux Hunter Derby. At the end of the day, he had five of them finish in the top eight of the class, including Laurie Lewis’ Escapade, who was fifth.
Also excelling in the new Devoucoux Hunter Derby was Nick Haness of Coto de Caza, CA, who rode Catwalk to a second-place finish, and piloted Granada to the yellow ribbon. Swingtime, ridden by Hope Glynn of Sonoma, CA, finished fourth to round out the top five in a class that delighted both exhibitors and spectators.
"We had a bunch in the class," said Glynn, who has 23 horses at HITS Thermal for the first half of the circuit. "It was very exciting to be able to draw some excitement in the hunter ring. It’s a great format and being able to show in a weekly hunter derby is going to be a lot of fun."
This year, 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, FL, 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 in order to facilitate the growth of the class and to 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, NY. For a complete list of horse shows offering the Devoucoux Derby for Marshall & Sterling points, please visit http://www.hitsshows.com/marshallsterling/hunter%20derby%20calendar.html
Hunter riders will get another chance to compete in this special class during Desert Circuit II when the $10,000 Devoucoux Hunter Derby returns on Sunday, February 6.
Keri Potter took her first step into the race to qualify for the Pfizer Million when she captured the blue ribbon aboard Rockford I in Sunday’s $50,000 EMO Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health at the HITS Desert Horse Park.
Potter of Del Mar, CA, and her horse were tops among a class of 30 challengers that took aim at the top prize in Sunday’s feature class. International Course Designer Marina Azevedo set a challenging first-round course that saw only three horse-and-rider teams advance to the jump-off round where Potter and her horse won the blue.
The accomplished equestrian owns Rockford I, who is 14, and has ridden him for the past six years, during which she has qualified for the FEI World Cup twice and won numerous grand prix events. Sunday’s victory adds another line to her impressive resume, which will hopefully soon include qualifying for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix that will take place at HITS-on-the-Hudson on September 12 in Saugerties, NY.
"What a great opportunity for our horses and riders to be able to compete for such high stakes," said Potter. "If I qualify, I will do my best to get there. HITS has given us something to look forward to."
Peter Lutz of San Francisco, CA, got things started in the jump-off aboard Kelly Tropin’s Turbo Rand. The pair had eight faults to finish in third place.
Canadian John Anderson and his mount Terrific were second to show in the jump-off. The duo made it all the way home clean to establish the Great American Time to Beat at 43.592. However, Anderson knew that wouldn't be fast enough and in the end had to settle for second place.
"It was a tough course and just three were clean," said Anderson. "In the jump-off I saw the first rider had eight faults so I wanted to take my time and go clear. It’s a six-week circuit and I did not want to push it. I left the door open for Keri and she took advantage of that to win the class."
Anderson and his 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood were second in both grand prix classes this week, giving him a total of more than $15,000 in prize money won so far at HITS Thermal. If he keeps up this pace, he should be in good shape to qualify for the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix.
"Saugerties is definitely on my mind," said Anderson. "Having a big money grand prix and holding qualifiers for it is a great concept. I would certainly love to go to Saugerties and will be there unless I am on the Canadian Nations Cup Team at that time."
In the jump-off, Potter and Rockford I held the enviable last-to-go spot so they stepped on the gas coming home fast and clean, crossing the timers in 41.593 to capture the first-place check of $15,000. "John left the door open for me with a slightly conservative ride,” said Potter. "I knew that if I put the pedal to the metal my horse would be fast enough"
Show jumping at the HITS Desert Circuit will resumed on February 2 with Desert Circuit II. In addition to the next installment of the Devoucoux Hunter Derby, highlighting the week for jumpers will be three Pfizer Million Qualifying Grand Prix events, including the first of four FEI World Cup Qualifiers when the $50,000 Strongid® C2 X Grand Prix takes the stage in the covered arena on Saturday night. Top equestrians are expected to compete, including Olympians McLain Ward, Jill Henselwood and John Pearce.
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 HitsShows.com
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events produced by HITS, visit www.HitsShows.com