The Sky’s the Limit for John French and Skyhawk in the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Presented by Dr. Daryl K. Hoffman

ATHERTON, CA – August 10, 2017-One of the highlights of the Menlo Charity Horse Show is the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Presented by Dr. Daryl K. Hoffman. This anxiously anticipated class on Thursday evening is steeped in tradition and never ever disappoints.

“I have been sponsoring the class for 5 years. “Dr. Daryl K. Hoffman explained, “I am just happy that Betsy Glikbarg asked me to be involved with the horse show. I was delighted to be asked, and I am still honored by it as part of the Menlo Circus Club tradition. The Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a wonderful charity that helps so many people and thanks to the generosity of the club, club members, everyone on the Peninsula and the participants it has raised a lot of money for a very good cause.”

Course Designer Eric Mayberry shared his approach to the class. “We have a nice field of good jumping horses, which allows me to set a fairly straight forward and classic course, nothing gimmicky or tricky. I am expecting to build a good-sized course as we have extremely good hunters here at Menlo. The handy round it will be built on a forward stride to get them galloping….It gets a little extra handy in the middle, and finishes on a forward stride.” Eric explained. “It is my first year at Menlo Charity Horse Show, and I am enjoying it immensely. As a course designer we don’t often get to build on grass, so that makes it fun. I have excellent materials to work with and you can be a touch more creative with such a good-sized ring. It is really nice to be out here and part of MCHS. It is not just a horse show but a historic event.”

As the excitement builds on the MCHS showgrounds and the VIP tent begins to fill, the Grass Hunter Field is prepared for the late afternoon event. There are many differences between the MCHS Derby and other events on the circuit, as one of a handful of venues in California that run a Hunter Derby on grass. When 5.30pm arrived all eyes were on the horses competing in the first of the two rounds.

The classic round of the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby consisted of 12 beautiful natural fences and the four high options were easy to identify. The top scores as they moved into the Handy Round:

1st Skyhawk and John French 184


2nd Center Court and John French 180

3rd Barnus and Jaime Taylor 175.5

4th West Street and Gabrielle Cinquini 169

As the shadows began to fall in the field the 12 leading horses completed the course in reverse order, a beautiful scene with the exceptional fences and a course providing opportunity for all to show the handiness of there horses.

At the end of the competition the same four horses remained at the top of the field. The overall results:

1st Skyhawk and John French

Winners of the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Presented by Dr. Daryl K. Hoffman Skyhawk & John French.jpg

2nd Center Court and John French

Center CourtJPG.JPG

3rd Barnus and Jamie Taylor

Baranus & Jamie Taylor.JPG

4th West Street and Gabrielle Cinquini

5th Epic and Mckenna Norris

6th Ziggy Stardust and Jamie Sailor

7th Hendrix and Hugh Mutch

8th Esperance and Mickie Sage

9th Andover and Jillian Stewart

10th Rimpoche and Claire Archer

11th Lorenzo-T and Kylee Arbuckle

12th Bunistar and Naomi Rubin

John French who has been attending MCHS for almost 30 years was delighted with both Skyhawk and last year’s winner Center Court. John explained, “They were both really good and it was nice in the second round that I knew going in with Skyhawk that I was already in the lead with Center Court, so the pressure was off.  Skyhawk went around super relaxed, and I think the judges knew that. There was one tricky turn after the trot jump and Jamie Sailor dared me to do it, so I did it.  It is great because both horses are leaving Monday for the USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals in Kentucky.

Menlo is such a great show; this is a nice way to go into the Derby Finals. I can go there and not worry about things that just happened, instead I can concentrate, try to be great and do the same thing we did today.

Skyhawk’s owner, Laura Wasserman was delighted with Skyhawk. a horse she has only owned for exactly a year. “I also compete in the Adult Amateur Owner Hunters and it’s been great.  He’s just been getting more and more amazing, I can’t explain it – and we are just getting better and better together.

Skyhawk & Owner Laura Wasserman.jpg

Skyhawk & Owner Laura Wasserman

I honestly want to thank John because I loved the horse and John said you have to buy this horse because I promise he is going to be an amazing match for you. He reminded me so much of a horse I bought from John a long time ago named Overseas, who was my horse of a lifetime.


Today has just been incredible; it’s just so beautiful here, I even got the highest score here I have ever received at Menlo and that was amazing and I love it here. Always something different, I love the people coming together and the community.”

MCHS awards committee volunteer, Archie Cox (trainer of Skyhawk) Center Court and owner Kristen Hiller, Laura Wasserman with her horse Sky Hawk, Dr. Darryl K. Hoffman MCHS Co-Chair Wendy Baum and John French.JPG

MCHS awards committee volunteer, Archie Cox (tra… John French

Photographs by Alden Corrigan Media