Thursday, May. 30, 2024

Paradigm Sets The Derby Standard At Devon

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Devon, Pa.—May 30

When John French saw the handy course for the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby at Devon, he immediately started strategizing. He knew that his partner Paradigm might switch into jumper mode and get his blood up if he started going for super tight turns. So while others considered taking a snug inside turn to the first fence, he decided that giving the 12-year-old warmblood (Carrico—Queensberry PJ) a slightly longer approach would suit him better, especially given that he earned the top call after the classic round.

John French and Paradigm jumped to first in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship. Mollie Bailey Photos

“Because I was sitting on top, I didn’t want to try something too daring,” said French, Wellington, Florida. “I just had to make sure at the beginning of the course that my horse didn’t think he was in the jumper ring, because the first three jumps came up really fast. I had to make sure he relaxed. I knew after he trotted the trot jump that he realized, ‘OK this is not jumpers.’ He took a breath and I was like, ‘I don’t have to worry that he’ll be too excited.’ “

Watch the handy round that clinched the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby for John French and Meredith Lipke’s Paradigm, courtesy of USEF Network:

“I also thought in the handy round not to gallop too much to the last jump and get too carried away, because a lot of horses were swapping at the last jump, because they’d already jumped that before and turned sharp left,” he added. “My other horse went well but he swapped at the last fence and ended up fifth. But with Paradigm I was like, ‘Don’t go too crazy at the last jump’ and he really soared it.”

John French rode Meredith Lipke’s Paradigm to his first derby win at Devon.

That knowledge of his horse—they’ve been together since the summer of 2022—paid off when the judges rewarded French and Paradigm with the second-highest handy round score and the top call in the class.

Nick Haness took second with Roaring Fork Farm’s Estimated Prophet and third with B R Farms LLC’s C’est Jolie.

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“I gave it my all,” said Haness, who won the leading hunter rider title yesterday at Devon. “I put in as good of a round as I could have ridden. My horses went well, little things they maybe could have done a little better. John is an exceptional rider, and the horse went beautifully for him today.

“John is an expert; he knows what he’s doing,” Haness continued. “He’s right—he was in a great position to take the around track to the first. I was coming from behind and I realized I needed to kind of step it up. I did try the inside turn on Estimated Prophet and I think it did pay off for me. I did move up a spot in the [handy].”

Estimated Prophet and Nick Haness jumped to second.

The field was jam packed with top mounts, including multiple experienced derby horses. Along with Paradigm, who won the Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship last year, confirmed derby winners Lafitte De Muze (Amanda Steege) and Laksano (Jimmy Torano) and last year’s winner Autograph (Hunt Tosh) were in the mix. Judges Timmy Kees, Bob Crandall, Bill Sparks and Shane George rewarded five mounts with scores in the 90s.

French was thrilled to come out on top with Meredith Lipke’s gelding, especially after the crowd got Paradigm too excited on the first day of high performance competition and French elected to retire in one class.

“He’s very quiet, until he gets his blood up,” French said. “I’ve always trusted him—it was two years ago at the beginning of May that I broke my leg and had a hip replacement, and he was the only horse at the beginning I felt safe riding because he’s very quiet and very comfortable. He has a really nice canter to sit to.”

C’est Jolie earned the highest handy round score of the day with Nick Haness up to finish third overall.
Four Aces and Brian Feigus jumped to fourth.
John French’s second ride, Milagro, earned fifth.
Sixth went to Lafitte De Muze and Amanda Steege.
Laksano and Jimmy Torano jumped to seventh.
West coasters Simon Schroeder and Totally jumped to eighth.
Colin Syquia qualified both his rides for Round 2, jumping to ninth on Front Page.
Nick Haness’s third ride, Golden Road, earned 10th.
Colin Syquia and Whatatime picked up 11th.
Jackpower and Katie Cooper earned 12th.

The Chronicle has a pair of reporters at Devon bringing you photo galleries, stories from the competition and more at www.coth.com. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss a thing. You can see a full report from the entire competition in the June 17 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.

Important Links: Devon Horse Show website / Detailed schedule / Results and orders of go / All the Chronicle’s coverage

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