One-Two Sweep for John French at $25,000 Franktown Meadows Hunter Derby

John French and Crown Affair owned by Gail Morey and Yellow Dog Farm win second in the $25,000 Franktown Meadows
Hunter Derby in Carson City, NV on September 19, 2010. Photo © 2010 Lindsay McCall for PMG

Written by: Lindsay McCall, Phelps Media Group
Carson City, NV-September 20, 2010- The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range was the perfect backdrop for the inaugural $25,000 Franktown Meadows Hunter Derby on September 19, 2010. Equestrians challenged their top hunter derby mounts over a course designed by Bobby Murphy and Jimmy Torano. The entire weekend proved successful as the first ever, west coast, standalone hunter derby. The success of this derby will hope to encourage the progression of the standalone USHJA International Hunter Derbies on the west coast. Sunday even included 300 spectators in attendance who were treated to a spectacular display of hunter riding when John French captured both the hunter derby win with Rococco, owned by, Avery Hellman, and earned second aboard Crown Affair, owned by Yellow Dog Farm.

This weekend riders, judges, and officials, marveled at the wonderful hunter derby course designed by Bobby Murphy and Jimmy Torano, the excellent footing, and the picturesque setting of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Riders showcased their derby abilities while competing over the first round course of 12 numbered obstacles. After the first round of competition 12 riders were invited back to the show ring to compete over the handy round course. The handy course featured 10 numbered obstacles and included four high options.

Riders had a generous amount of space to plan their track to each fence. The handy round course began coming home and finished with a hand gallop over an oxer coming home. The fences were large and beautiful and included many natural obstacles. One unique fence in the derby was a bamboo fence. It was a vertical fence with bamboo shoots on the side and shoots were used as ground lines and rails.

The first of the top five horses to attempt the handy round was Forbes, owned by Tonia Look-Cooker, with Jenny Karazissis in the irons. The pair had a first round score of 163 and took each option to earn the high option points. Karazissis and the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood efforts would pay off earning them 18 bonus points and the highest handy round score of the evening.

The next duo would be John French aboard Truman, owned by Mary Sweeney. The six-year-old Holsteiner stayed consistent over the 10 obstacles choosing three options out of the four to navigate. Their handiness would earn them 16 bonus points placing them just behind Karazissis.

Avery Hellman’s Winter, attempted the handy round next and their performance would move them just behind Truman in the results. John French’s last two mounts included Crown Affair, owned by Yellow Dog Farm, and Rococco.

The exquisite hunter derby stallion, Crown Affair, completed all four options and earned 16 bonus points for their efforts. This score gave them the lead for a short period of time. Rococco and French were the last pair to compete over the handy round. A smooth consistent round with only two options utilized would bring a smile to the judge’s faces and Rococco and French earned the leading title of the 2010 $25,000 Franktown Meadows Hunter Derby champion.

Also included in the derby awards was the “Janice MacLean Memorial Perpetual Trophy, a custom dress sheet from Ann K. Hubbards Tack Shop, a Skagen Watch, and a halter with pure silver hunter derby name plate.

From the very beginning there have been many supporters of the Franktown Meadows Hunter Derby. John French was a big supporter of this event and after showing at the Franktown Meadows Equestrian Facility he is looking forward to next year.

French’s win aboard Rococco was very exciting for him. French smiled, “Rococco was a catch ride for me today. The only time I had shown this horse in the past was this spring. I knew him a little bit before I went in to the ring but not really. He was amazing today; He absolutely loved the jumps and he did so well.”

French continued, “Rococco is such a great jumper. He is very slow in the air and just flows off the ground. For example, when I went towards the in and out most horses would speed up as they approached the gate. Rococco slowed down, curled to the first one, slowed down in the middle, and curled over the second one. He is an amazing jumper.”

Crown Affair and French earned the second place position together for their execution of the course. This was the first time back on Crown Affair since August at the $100,000 2009-2010 The Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals Presented by Dietrich Insurance. French expressed, “I have been on the road and have not ridden Crown since derby finals in Kentucky. I didn’t feel as though the indoor ring was the best type of venue for Crown during the finals. He is 15 years old and has been going around the ring for a long time. A venue like this is exactly what he loves. I knew he would be great here because he loves the big fields, he loves seeing the different types of courses, and even adding the element of wind was great for Crown. It is not something that he has done before and he was great.”

French has been a large supporter of this venue since the beginning and he wanted to acknowledge a few of the people that helped make this happen. French explained, “This event was wonderful. The jumps were amazing and they really did a great job decorating them. Bobby always does a great job with the courses and I enjoyed today’s courses. Also, it was so nice of them to bring the jumps all of the way from the east coast to here. That was a long way to bring these jumps but it was worth it. I wish we had more jumps like this in California and I wish more of the shows had events like this. This is what it used to be like when I was a kid.”

He continued, “ I also would like to thank everyone that worked on putting this show together. The MacLean family and everyone else really went out of their way to make this event memorable. This is just the first year and people are going to hear what a beautiful field there was to show on, what amazing jumps there were, and hopefully it will be an annual thing. Lastly, I want to thank the Hellman’s for sending their horses out to this derby and allowing me to ride them. I truly appreciate everything they have done for me.”

Jenny Karazissis had an exciting ride today on Forbes but a small mishap earned her the third place position. She noted, “I was very happy with Forbes today. Unfortunately, he fell off his lead on the way to one jump. I think one set of judges hurt me for it bit the other set of judges were a little lenient.”

She continued, “I thought Forbes jumped great today. He just felt really confident and comfortable out there. I knew with the handy that I could really turn it on with him. There weren’t that many places where you could turn inside things so I made the roll back turn as tidy as I could. Forbes is wonderful too ride. He is a little bit careful and will give you the impression that he is worried about the jump but he’s not. As long as keep your leg on and keep riding he will just keep jumping higher and rounder; He is a fun ride.”

The wind picked up this morning and continued to blow throughout the show. Luckily it did not affect anyone or any jump. Karazissis said, “The course was so beautiful. Eerything was beautiful and the view was incredible. The wind was a little bit of factor but I thought it would be more than it was. It was funny though because when you entered the ring and tried to develop your pace but you are going against the wind. So you hear this howling and you are trying to get him going and then as soon as you turn to the course suddenly you have little push. It didn’t seem to be that much of factor. I really hope to come back next year for this event agan.”

Each and every individual that attended this event believed in the idea of the standalone event for the hunter industry. Even the four judges believed that this derby was important for the entire sport. The judges of the derby were George Morris, Julie Winkel, Jimmy Torano, and Scott Hofstetter. Morris commented, “ This was a top-notch event; It was the best of the best. It was a shot in the arm for the hunter industry on the west coast and I hope that this isn’t a one-time event.”

Morris continued, “The turf of the Franktown Meadows hunter Derby was among the best turfs that I have seen and I include the Super League Events on that list.”

The importance of this west coast derby to the USHJA International Hunter Derby Series is substantial. Bobby Murphy noted, “In 2008 the first-ever east coast standalone hunter derby occurred. This derby was a class-act and took place at Jenny Sutton’s Wrenwood Farm in Naples, Florida. It was that event that furthered the progression of the USHJA International Hunter Derby Series. The Naples derby was a milestone in evolution for these derbies to expand along the east coast. Eventually we will look back on Franktown Meadows Hunter Derby as a milestone in the progression of the USHJA International Hunter Derby Series on the west coast.”

The 2010 $25,000 Franktown Meadows Hunter Derby was hosted by the MacLean family of the Franktown Meadows Equestrian Facility in Carson City, NV. The Franktown Meadows Hunter Derby worked in collaboration with the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation to benefit the Northern Nevada and California areas.

Founded in 1996, the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation is a non-profit, public charity dedicated to supporting the Lake Tahoe community. The Foundation seeks to encourage charitable giving, aid fellow non-profit organizations, and improve community well being. Charitable giving is simple and effective with the Foundation, as they partner with donors to meet charitable giving goals. Providing excellent stewardship of donor’s contributed assets, Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation provides pertinent information regarding how the many generous donations are allocated so as to maximize community benefit. Joining efforts with other local non-profit organizations, the Foundation works together with the organizations they feel implement the types of programs that can provide for community needs. The Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation promotes organizational innovation and collaboration as means by which charitable gifts can be used in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

Parasol provides local leadership by promoting a vision of communities that are healthy, inclusive, and sustainable. Giving every stakeholder a voice, the Foundation encourages lively discussion on current community issues and future community goals. The Northern Nevada & California community has been enriched through the kind generosity of donors, the quality services provided by local non-profits, and the hard work of many volunteers.

For more information about the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation please contact please contact Claudia Andersen (775) 298-0187 or


Placing, Horse’s Number, Horse’s Name, Rider’s Name, Horse’s Owner, First Round Score, Second Round Score, Final Score

1 16 Rococco, John French, Avery Hellman, 192, 202, 394
2 1 Crown Affair John French, Yellow Dog Farm, 185, 185, 370
3 2 Forbes, Jenny Karazissis, Tonia Cook Looker, 163, 203, 366
4 5 Truman, John French, Mary Sweeney, 173,193, 366
5 13 Winter, John French, Avery Hellman, 184, 180, 364
6 8 SVS Caremunde Z, Jenny Karazissis, Ned Glynn, 169, 180, 349
7 9 Woodstock , John French, Olivia Hellman, 154, 176, 330
8 3 Palladio, Travis Root, Andrea Clibborn, 146, 163, 309
9 7 Osilvia, Ashlin Bowen, Ashlin Bowen, 153, 154, 307
10 14 Headline News, Jenifer Paris, Breanna Roberts, 147, 118, 265