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John French Rides To First-Ever Grand Prix Win At Indio

INDIO, CA (March 8, 2004)—John French of Los Altos, California, rode Cathy and Alex Mendez' Millenium to victory in the $50,000 King Shavings Grand Prix at HITS Indio Desert Circuit V. Someone quipped that John is "always the bridesmaid" on the equestrian circuit and he was quick to agree. "I've had dozens and dozens of second place finishes but today is my very first Grand Prix win ever!" he exclaimed. "Millenium has been clean in every Grand Prix on this winter's circuit, except the first when his bridle broke," he continued "so you can see that he's very consistent." "It helps that he has a huge stride and can do a 10-stride jump in 9. I'm thrilled at my first win and can only hope there's more to come!" Millenium is a 16.1 hand, 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood by Burgraff.

John is currently tied for 2nd in the West Coast World Cup standings so it all comes down to next week's $150,000 Ford Grand Prix to determine if he will be among the West Coast riders representing the U.S. at the 2004 FEI Jumping World Cup Final in Milan, Italy (April 21 - 25).

Olaf Petersen clearly ratched up the level of difficulty in today's Grand Prix following last Friday's Ariat class in which 18 of the 53 starters went clean. Today, only three were able to best Petersen's rigorous first round test to go clean. Overall, the 36 starters in today's King Shavings Grand Prix had an average of 8.05 faults.

“For the jump-off, Petersen shortened the course to eight elements. The time allowed was set at 60 seconds. Duncan McFarlane and Eezy were the first pair to attempt the course. McFarlane went all out posting a very fast time of 45.44 seconds on the clock, but a succession of three rails down gave him a total of 12 faults. John French and Millenium were next up. French also went fast but managed to leave all the rails up, sweeping past the timers in the winning time of 46.99 seconds. Helen McNaught and Lexicon finished out the field. McNaught rode a steady pace, and with one knockdown in a time of 53.45 seconds she finished in second place.

Other major award winners at Indio Desert Circuit V included:
Bayer Legend Leading Hunter Rider - Jennie Karazissas, Calabasas, CA
Bayer Legend Leading Jumper Rider - Richard Spooner, Burbank, CA
HBO Junior Medal Winner - Randy Sherman, Pasadena, CA
Charles Owen Children's Medal Winner - Lauren Porter, Sacramento, CA
Charles Owen Adult Medal Winner - Elizabeth Dickinson, Los Angeles, CA
$25,000 Ariat Grand Prix - Richard A Spooner, Burbank, CA, riding Robinson, owned by Half Moon Bay Investment Group

For an unprecedented fifth week in a row, Richard Spooner has received the Bayer Legend Leading Jumper Rider Award. Spooner has won the $25,000 Ariat Grand Prix with his top horse Robinson for the last three weeks in a row.

Thanks to his latest Ariat Grand Prix win, Richard Spooner is now top in the standings for the Golden Horse Leading Grand Prix Rider Award with 72 points. Canada's Jill Henselwood is in the second spot with 55 points.

At the close of the circuit, the Leading Grand Prix Rider will receive a beautiful gold and sapphire "Super Bowl" ring courtesy of Golden Horse Jewelry. The top six horse and rider pairs in each of the Circuit's twelve grand prix classes are awarded points using the World Cup point system (20-12-8-4-2-1) with the top-pointed rider taking home the coveted ring. In case of a tie, total grand prix money-won will determine the winner. The current money-won horse-and-rider leader is John French and Millenium with $46,750 in Grand Prix winnings on the Indio Circuit, providing further proof of the pair's consistent placings here at Indio.

The Indio Desert Horse Park hosted its second annual Seniors Day, presented by KESQ TV and the La Quinta Rotary Club, on Sunday to coincide with $50,000 King Shavings Grand Prix. The usual spectator crowd saw an increase of local senior citizens who took advantage of the free admission to the horse show grounds and all of the fun activities that were organized in their honor. Free golf carts were provided for senior citizens and many took advantage of the opportunity to tour the show grounds to see the top-level show jumping competition taking place.

For more information on the Indio Desert Circuit, please visit

John French and Millenium - Winners of the $50,000 King Shavings Grand Prix
(photo courtesy of Todd Sutherland Photography, © 2004)

$50,000 King Shavings Grand Prix - Sunday, March 7, 2004
Indio Desert Circuit V - Indio, CA
Course Designer: Olaf Petersen, Seefeld, Germany

Place Horse Rider Owner Prize Money Rd 1
Faults JO
1st Millenium John French Cathy / Alex Mendez $15,000 0 0 46.99
2nd Lexicon Helen McNaught Beverly Hills Equestrian Partners $11,000 0 4 53.45
3rd Eezy Duncan McFarlane
Kathie B Cheatham $6,500 0 12 45.44
4th Adonis All Star Peter Breakwell Adonis Capital $4,000 4
5th Lady D Jeff Campf Oz Investments / Sequoia Farm $3,000 4
6th Grand Soso 2 Laura Linback Woodrun $2,500 4
7th McGuinness Rich Fellers Harry / Mollie Chapman $2,000 4
8th Del Destino Kim Farlinger Peter Farlinger $1,500 4
9th Antigua Gerardo Tazzer Gerardo Tazzer $1,500 4
10th Sapphire Mark Watring Watring / Bohannan $1,000 4
11th Robinson Richard A Spooner Half Moon Bay Investment Group $1,000 4
12th Santa Teresita Gumaro La Silla Eduardo Salas Herrera Santa Teresita $1,000 4


Desert Circuit VI - March 10-14

$25,000 Ariat Grand Prix - Friday, March 12 at 2:00pm
$150,000 Ford Grand Prix of the Desert - Sunday, March 14 at 2:00pm

Fiesta Day, Presented by Avis and Nextel/Suprema Communications - Sunday, March 14 from Noon to 2:00 pm
Circuit Awards - Sundays Prior to 1:00pm Grand Prix

Directions to HITS Desert Horse Park: Take I-10 to the Monroe Street exit in Indio. Go south approximately five miles to Avenue 52, and then turn right onto Avenue 52. Horse Show entrance is ½ mile on right. Tel: 760-775-7731; Fax: 760-775-7752. Website:



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