John French captured his fourth World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) Professional Final title on Friday at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, MD. The secret behind the acclaimed hunter rider’s latest victory? A new mindset.
“I actually this year just tried to not think so much,” French said with a smile.
“That was my new thing, just to go in there and don’t even think. That’s something that I read in sports books about how people like golfers get ready or get in the zone. I always read ones that say you just don’t think when you get nervous or for a big competition like this. I just tried that, and it worked pretty good.”
So well, in fact, French dominated all three legs of the competition.
The WCHR Pro Final sees the top six hunter riders in the country go head to head over three rounds. Each rider competes on two different donated horses for the first two rounds, then bring in a horse of their own for the third and final handy round.
This year, the roster included French, Scott Stewart, Katie Gardner, Hunt Tosh, John Bragg and Kelley Farmer.
French set the tone for the night riding Alant, an eight-year-old gelding, to a score of 90.66 (90, 93, 89). In the second round, he piloted the eight-year-old Holsteiner gelding Everglow to yet another 90.66 (91, 89, and 92).
In the final handy round, French and the seven-year-old Holsteiner gelding Small Gesture again had the best score—this time a 90. His three round total: 271.32.
With a dominating nine-points under par over second place finisher, Scott Stewart, French captured his fourth WCHR Professional Finals win in the 23-year history of the class.
Let’s hope he’s celebrate his latest victory with 18-holes at Bulle Rock.