John French Bookends Podium with Milagro and Paradigm in the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby 2*

John French and Milagro. Photo ©Sportfot

Edited Press Release

The ESP Holiday Series continued on Friday with the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby 2* presented by Bainbridge Companies. The class was held in a “Hunt and Go” format, meaning the first portion of the course was judged as the Classic round, while the latter half of the trip was scored as the Handy phase. With twelve obstacles and four high-options, 11 competitors took to the course, but one pair came out on top, John French and Milagro.

“He is only seven years old. This horse has amazing scope, and I knew that he would shine in the hunter derby classes. For a horse who doesn’t have much experience, he’s super brave, and he can jump the top of the standards. He was jumping super high today; I think that’s why the judges rewarded him so much because he clears each fence by two feet.” said French about Milagro. “He’s a favorite of mine and winning this derby was nice, but he probably won’t show again until January.”

As the last to go, French was up against a leading score of 178, set by Molly Ashe Cawley. Navigating Milagro expertly through both phases of the course, French took a commanding four-point lead after receiving a 90 in the Classic portion and a 91 in the Handy for a combined score of 181.

Cawley of Wellington, FL, and Popstar, owned by Louisburg Farm, took home second place after earning an 89 in both the classic and handy portion of the course. Following his top placing with Milagro, French also took home third with Paradigm, owned by Meredith Lipke. The pair earned a cumulative score of 173 after earning a first-round score of 87 and an 86 in the handy.

John French and Milagro took the top spot in the $15,000 International Hunter Derby 2* presented by Bainbridge Companies. Pictured with Jennifer Schechter of the Bainbridge Companies. ©Sportfot

Following the holiday series, French plans to compete in upcoming derbies during the 2023 WEF season, “I like that we get to show in different rings. One week we get to show in the International Ring and then we get to compete on the derby field the next. I never get tired of it.” As a long-time Wellington native, French can enjoy the season from his own backyard. “I get to ride at my barn, show here at the grounds and then return to my own home at the end of the day. It’s nice being here and picking the shows you want to go to; they do a great job. It’s also fun when my friends from California visit throughout the circuit because it brings us all together, so I’m excited to see everyone.”

Carlos Arias was the recipient of the Schneiders Groom Award following the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby 2* presented by Bainbridge Companies, as the groom of the winning derby horse. As part of the recognition, Rodriguez was presented with a bag of high-quality grooming supplies courtesy of Schneiders Tack.

Carlos Arias was awarded the Schneiders Saddlery Grooms Award as the groom of Milagro. ©Sportfot

For the full results of the $15,000 USHJA International Derby 2* presented by Bainbridge Companies, please click HERE. 

Original press release from