Rumba and John French Continue Winning Streak / Future Hunter Champions Pinned
Written by Michelle Bloch
Any athlete can get on a streak. It doesn't matter if you're a baseball player or a whole football team. We'll often see it happen with jumper riders who win grand prix events week after week. The connection between teammates, and the desire to win, is no different if it is two tennis players in a doubles match or a horse and rider on course. To make the phenomenon of a streak happen in equestrian sports, however, you need a horse beneath you who knows when to step up to the plate and hit a home run.
John French has that horse and his name is Rumba. When the stunning grey enters the ring in that relaxed and confident lope of his, and his ears prick forward, you know you're about to see something special.
Rumba and John French jump to the top in the Second Year Green division
Photo by Jennifer Wood/PMG
Rumba remains undefeated this year in the Second Years after collecting the tri color at Capital Challenge today. It is a streak that French is happy to be on, but he certainly feels the pressure to continue. As the list of winnings grows, it becomes harder to believe that a horse can keep up that kind of performance.
"It has to end sometime," said French realistically. French's nerves and the pressure to win at Capital Challenge didn't abate after winning both over fences classes the first day. He said, "People have this expectation, and it puts pressure on you. I'd rather come as the underdog and rise to the occasion than know you're sitting on the best one and hope you don't mess up."
Rumba's success didn't start this year, and this isn't his first tri color at the Capital Challenge. Last year, Erin Duffy rode Rumba to the First Year Green and the Grand Green Championships for the Wilkinson family.
The Wilkinsons sold the Danish Warmblood in December to Mountain Home Stables of Woodside, CA, and that is when French took the reins and continued to successfully campaign Rumba.
French does not take a horse like Rumba for granted. "I'm lucky and grateful that I get to ride him. You can't dream of a horse that could do things like this. I've never had one that was as good as him and as easy as him. He's probably the horse of a lifetime for me."
Rumba's last class at the show will be tomorrow's WCHR Professional Challenge before he competes at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show.
Hunt Tosh of Milton, GA, rode Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Wheeler's Lone Star to the championship in the Regular Working Hunters. They started out the week with a win and second place over fences and were second under saddle. They won the first class today and added a third place ribbon. The reserve champion in the division was On Top, ridden by Keri Kampsen for Laurel Ridge Sport Horses of Temecula, CA. They placed second, third, and fourth over fences.
Tosh has ridden Lone Star, a nine-year-old Warmblood gelding, since this past winter. They have won a tricolor ribbon in every outing this year. "It's fun to have a working horse. He was great here. He tried every class and was really good. That's what so fun about him. Any ring you walk into, he tries his guts out."
Tosh also rode Rosalynn, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Oare of Warrenton, VA, to the reserve championship in the Second Year Green Working Hunters after placing sixth over fences, second in the handy class, and winning the stake class. Tosh has ridden the pretty mare since last fall, sharing riding duties this year with Kelley Farmer.
"She's another one that is super brave walking into any ring. Today we needed to win the last class, and she did it," he recalled.
Hunt Tosh and Lone Star
Photo by Jennifer Wood/PMG
In the Future Hunters, the champion of the 6 & Over division was Showman, ridden by Sandy Ferrell for Alexa and Krista Weisman of Sherborn, MA. The pair won three of four classes in the division and was second under saddle. Scott Stewart and Too Cool finished as reserve champions. They placed second in all three over fences classes and were third under saddle.
Ferrell has ridden Showman in the Pre-Green 3'3" Hunters all year, while Alexa Weisman has competed in the Adult Amateur 3'3" Hunters. The seven-year-old gelding has been very successful, and Ferrell had plenty of compliments for the talented horse.
"I think Showman is truly a rare find in a horse because he is 100 percent the entire package," she described. "He has ability; he has attitude; he has brains; he's stunningly beautiful; he's scopey; he's brave; and he's a beautiful mover. He's just one of those rare horses that have every component that a horse needs. I think that's what makes him so amazing."
Ferrell also finished as champion in the Future Hunter Mares division with Torrey Pines Stables' Prudence. They won three out of four classes. The reserve champion was Rosebud, ridden by Kelley Farmer for Spencer Ranch. They were first, third, and fourth over fences and fourth under saddle.
Hunt Tosh and Good Humor were champions in the Future Hunter Non-Thoroughbred division. They were first, first, and fourth over fences and fourth under saddle. The reserve champion was Summer Place, ridden and owned by Scott Stewart, who placed first and third over fences.
The Wheelers of Keswick, VA, purchased Good Humor, a seven-year-old gelding, from Havens Schatt. "We didn't do much with him last year, and we started showing him this spring. He has been fabulous. He'll be really fun for the First Years next year," Tosh said.
Scott Stewart picked up a Future Hunter championship with Nescio in the Thoroughbred/TB Cross division. They were first, second, and fourth over fences and they won the under saddle class. The reserve champion was Listen, ridden by Kelley Farmer and owned by Jane Gaston. They won two over fences classes and placed sixth in the remaining over fences class.
Tim Goguen and Tripoli, owned by Boggs Hill, won the championship in the Future Hunter 5 & Under division. They placed first, third, and third over fences and won the under saddle class. Peter Pletcher and Vibe, owned by Becky Gochman, were reserve champions with first, third, and fifth places.
The final championship went to Premier and Ken Berkley in the Future Hunter Colts & Gelding division. Owned by Gina Day, Premier won three out of four classes in the division. Premier's barn-mate Crownpoint, ridden and owned by Scott Stewart, was first, second, third, and fifth for the reserve championship.
Competition for the professional hunters continues tomorrow with championships for two sections of the First Year Green Working Hunters, Green Conformation, and Regular Conformation. The Amateur-Owner Hunters begin their competition as well.
The highlights of tomorrow afternoon's schedule include the Future Hunter World Championship, the award for the Future Hunter Grand Championship, the World Champion Hunter Under Saddle (Senior), and the first round of the World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) Professional Challenge.
Tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. will be the Emerging Professional Rider Challenge and the WCHR Professional Challenge Final Round.