California Riding Magazine • September, 2009

Menlo Magic
Breakwell and Simpson are big winners amidst reliable
Menlo Charity Show success.

by Nan Chapman
photos by Alden Corrigan for

Some things never change and that adage was certainly proven true at the 39th Menlo Charity Horse Show, which felt as welcoming and comfortable as ever.

The social activities of the week started off with the complimentary Spaghetti Feed, served adjacent to the swimming pool, and attended by a majority of the riders, trainers, grooms and friends of the horse show. A sell-out crowd of 350 enjoyed the Gala Sponsors’ Dinner-Dance and auction on Friday evening following the Ryman Speed Jumping Class. Saturday evening, immediately after the Grand Prix, the crowd returned to an informal barbecue, where the AHJF Southwest Regional World Champion Hunter Rider awards were presented. Attendees were also treated to a fashion show staged by Ariat with clothes modeled by Olympic medalists Will Simpson and Gina Miles, among others. In addition, each afternoon, complimentary beverages and an array of everything from oysters to hot dogs were served.

Over 150 name-tag wearing volunteer committee members were seemingly everywhere, doing their very best to assist spectators, sponsors, competitors and judges. The grounds were filled daily with hundreds of people who, when they weren’t watching the competition, could be seen ambling down Vendor Row or enjoying a leisurely lunch either in the lovely dining room of the Menlo Circus Club or on the club’s terrace which abuts the Jumper arena.

John French sings the National Anthem.

The competition was as fierce as ever, but an aura of camaraderie and good sportsmanship prevailed. Crowds lined the field and filled the sponsors’ tent during the $5,000 Blue Ribbon Custom Blankets Handy Hunter Take Your Own Line, The Grand Hunter Challenge sponsored by Patricia Hitchcock O’Connell, the Ryman Speed Jumping Class dominated by USA Olympic Show Jumping team gold medalist Will Simpson, who took the top three slots, and the $40,000 Grand Prix, won by another Olympian (this time from New Zealand) Peter Breakwell. It was a big night for Breakwell. He also announced that Breakwell Stables would open a second location at the Menlo Circus Club, on the very grounds of his heart-stopping Grand Prix win on Lucas, a horse owned by the No Drama Syndicate.

Attendance, while down about 20 percent, made for a little less crowded conditions from parking to seating and many commented on the very relaxed atmosphere this year.

2009 MCHS Leadline Class.

Despite the turmoil in the outer world,  Menlo remains a bastion of the world the way we’d like to see it to remain. To that end, the committee is dedicated to preserving the very special quality that makes Menlo what it is, and so next month, they will start meeting again to discuss how to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this unique event that has so many special memories for all of us.