John French & Milagro. Photo © Sportfot.
World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Week, sponsored by KASK, at the 2023 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) came to a peak on Saturday night. The country’s best hunter combinations went head-to-head in the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular. For John French, it was a night of firsts as he finally captured the Spectacular win, one that has been eluding him throughout his career.
From a 42-horse field at 3’6”, 3’9”, and 4’ heights, 12 returned for a handy round. French guided Milagro, a 2015 Hanoverian gelding owned by Kent Farrington, LLC, to a high score of 94 in the opening round and returned for the handy with a few points in his pocket. They impressed the judges again and scored 93.5, finishing with a score of 187.5 and the victory.
“I think riding in this kind of atmosphere brings out the best in all horses,” said French of the impressive International Ring environment at WEF. “They were all jumping so well tonight, and I think the lights, the crowds, and the jumps really showcased the hunters. There aren’t a lot of these classes left, so we get excited for nights like this and so do our horses.”
Kenny Comes Back in CaptiveOne Advisors CIS3* 1.50m Classic
After a win in the CSi3* 1.45m slipped from his grasp on the opening day of WEF 6, Darragh Kenny (IRL) was determined to check the win column in Saturday’s CHF37,000 CaptiveOne Advisors CSI3* 1.50m Classic. He and Vancouver Dreams did just that from a stacked 15-horse jump-off over courses designed by Ana Catalina Cruz Harris (MEX) on the grass Derby Field at Equestrian Village.
Kenny is making quick work of finding success with a new partnership after recently acquiring Vancouver Dreams from Austria’s Max Kühner.
“I’ve actually never done a jump-off on her before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said Kenny of the 13-year-old Hanoverian mare (Valentino 240 x Stakkato). “She’s unbelievably careful, so I knew I could take a bit of a risk at the double, and I did and it paid off and she was brilliant.”