French Stakes Claim To $15,000 WCHR Professional Challenge

Tricia Booker

October 6, 2010

Upper Marlboro, MD —Oct. 6, 2010 – John French and Small Affair made a big impression at the Capital Challenge Horse Show. With breathtaking efforts during the two-round $15,000 WCHR Professional Challenge, the bay French-bred gelding soared to victory with a score of 182.99 for owners Iwasaki & Reilly.

Although French has contested the class on many previous occasions—and placed second in 2009—this was the first time he claimed the WCHR Professional Challenge and the Little Book Trophy, donated by Gary Duffy.

Kelley Farmer guided Mr. and Mrs. Ernest M. Oare’s Rosalynn to second place with 179.91 points, while Katie Gardner placed third aboard Caroline Miguelez’ Parker with 175.66 points.

French was especially pleased with Small Affair’s performance in the second round, where he garnered oohs and ahhs from the spectators in the Prince George’s Equestrian Center Show Place Arena. The pair returned last as the highest-scoring duo in the first round, but Farmer had just taken over the lead with a score of 92 in the second round.

“Well, it’s always hard when the pressure’s on. Kelley just came from getting a great score,” said French. “He jumped the first fence great, and once he kind of kicks into gear to the first fence you know you’re OK. Then, the second fence, everyone was commenting on that. He must have jumped 3 feet over that one. There are not many horses that jump that high over the jumps and still in great form.”
French, Redwood City, CA, began showing Small Affair in 2009 and finished last year as the USEF First Year Green Horse of the Year. The pair also clinched the second year green hunter championship at Capital Challenge a day earlier to start their East Coast fall indoor circuit with a bang.

“He’s just getting and better,” added French. “He came here last year and was a little bit green. It’s nice coming here to the first indoor show from California and having it go this well.”

The top four riders from each of the five open sections at the Capital Challenge qualified for the class. In addition, invitations were extended to the top 10 riders from the WCHR National Professional Standings prior to the start of the show, the top six riders from each of the WCHR Final Regional Professional standings, the winner of the 2009 Professional Challenge and the 2009 Professional WCHR National Champion.

In the $5,000 WCHR Emerging Pro Challenge, Molly Sewell, 29, of Winter Park, FL, took top billing aboard Porter Allen’s Maddox. With their 172.83 points, they’ll have their names engraved on the Bittersweet Perpetual Trophy donated by Rachel B. Kennedy.

Sewell, who works for trainer Bill Schaub at Over The Hill Farm, has been a professional since 2001. She and Maddox, a 10-year-old Oldenburg, turned in a smooth and efficient second-round performance over the handy hunter course to clinch the title.

“It’s a great class,” said Sewell. “I’ve done it since the beginning. I was second the first year, third last year and then this year I won. It’s amazing. This class gives you confidence, and it’s nice to get recognition. It’s great.”

Miranda Scott, Silver Spring, Md., picked up second-placed honors aboard Taylor Alexander’s Valentine with 172.66 points, and Jordan Seigel, Flower Mound, Texas, placed third aboard Darby Toben’s Black Tie Affair with 170.33 points.

The class was open to the top 10 riders in the WCHR Emerging Pro National Standings and the top six riders from each of the WCHR Regions. Additional spots were filled by Emerging Pros who weren’t already qualified based on their highest-scoring round in any professional hunter section at Capital Challenge.

Earlier in the day, Hunt Tosh, the 2009 Professional WCHR National Champion, added yet another WCHR title to his resume when he guided the aptly named Tosh to the blue ribbon in the $1,000 WCHR Senior World Champion Hunter Under Saddle class, sponsored by Arcadia Farm. Both Toshes collected the Hollywood Challenge Trophy, donated by Paula Polk Lillard, for owner Reid Patton, of Nashville, TN.

“What a fun class,” said Tosh, who was the final rider remaining on the rail after the judges pared down the top 10 in an elimination-style format. “He’s a beautiful mover. And he’s just a baby; he’s only 5.”

The class, open to the first-, second- and third-placed winners in the under saddle classes in the professional and amateur-owner sections, featured some of the best-moving hunters in the country. Tosh, a bay warmblood gelding by Samba Hit, qualified for the class with his victory in the future working hunter, 5 and under, under saddle class.

Action continues at the Capital Challenge Horse Show this week with the $2,500 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3'3” and 3’6”Challenges (Oct. 7), the $7,500 WCHR Professional Finals (Oct. 8) and the $5,000 WCHR Handy Hunter Challenge (Oct. 9), among the remaining WCHR highlights.

Professional, Junior and Amateur Riders are invited to compete at the Capital Challenge Horse Show by qualifying through the WCHR National program throughout the year. A rider's top four WCHR shows count toward awards in these divisions: Professional and Emerging Professional, Junior, Amateur Owner (3'6" and 3'3"), Adult Amateur and Pony. Riders are then invited to contest WCHR Challenge Classes, and the WCHR presents its national awards for 16 divisions at the Capital Challenge, and regional awards are also decided.

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