On Friday evening, USA’s Kent Farrington and the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood Creedance (Lord Z x Notaris) took home the top honors in the $216,000 U.S. Open FEI Grand Prix CSI3* presented by Rolex. In topping the leaderboard, Farrington secured his first ever win in the main event at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show. The competition on September 22nd marked the third day of international competition showcasing top equestrians in the heart of New York City.
Shortly before the start of the class, Farrington announced that if he were to amass any earnings in the evening’s featured class, he would donate the entirety to hurricane relief, aiding victims of both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Ultimately taking the lion share of the winnings, Farrington’s philanthropic and charitable act will donate nearly $71,000 to Direct Relief, a humanitarian medical relief and aid non-profit aimed to help individuals impacted by natural disasters.
“I’m a resident of Florida. A lot of us actually have houses and stables there and my mom lives there. She had to relocate to New York to stay with my sister to avoid the hurricane and we were lucky. We dodged a bullet, and it went to the other side of the state, but it was a reality check,” said Farrington. “We were lucky to get away without much damage, but a lot of people weren’t as fortunate. I just felt like it was the right thing to do. I feel very lucky to be living my dream, traveling the world and competing for big money, and this event is all about showcasing our sport, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to do something for people who could use it.”
Currently ranked number one on the FEI World Ranking List, Farrington and Creedance bested a competitive class of 27 entries to secure the victory.
“I’ve had this horse since he was seven-years-old. He’s always been really high energy and very competitive, so it’s more a matter of managing his energy and keeping his focus. He’s only ten, and already he’s got a lot of victories under his belt, and I think he has a big future in the sport.”
The pair navigated the track set by Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge, which saw nine entries move to the second and final phase of competition. As the second to last rider in the jump-off, Farrington sealed the win with a leading time of 37.46s.
USA’s Hardin Towell and Lucifer V, winners of Thursday night’s $40,000 CSX FEI Speed Class, finished in 2nd place with a jump-off time of 37.58 seconds.
“I watch Hardin ride a lot because he’s in Europe competing with the best riders in the world. He’s very competitive and very fast,” said Farrington. “I actually didn’t see him go tonight but they told me he had a very quick round. With this particular horse I try to have my own plan because he’s very fast and I have to play to his strengths, so I tried to make it up early in the course and then slow him down a little bit to the last fence, because sometimes he can get running too fast, and knock it down. My strategy today was to win it early and be able to ease off at the end.”
Towell concluded a banner week in Central Park, earning the U.S. Open Leading Rider Award.
“He [Lucifer] felt great and he had a great first round. I actually did the opposite of Kent. My horse’s strength is long gallops, and in the beginning [of the course] last year I gave this class away, I felt, because I tried to be too quick to the Rolex double, and it was a vertical to an oxer and I had the vertical down,” said Towell. “I told myself I would take a little more time there and be quick to the last couple, so when they had the split afterwards where Kent was six-tenths of a second up on me, I knew it would be close because I know his horse quite well too. I knew he would take it easy at the last and not be quite as quick, so we both had our plan. We know our horses and we stuck to it. Tonight was his night.”
In 3rd place, USA’s Kristen Vanderveen and Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili, who finished 3rd in the speed class on Thursday, closed out the top three placings with a jump-off time of 37.70.
“I also had a quick round yesterday and like Hardin was saying, sometimes it’s hard for the horses to do that quick round and come back today,” said Vanderveen. “My plan in the jump-off was actually to be a little bit conservative and not rush him too much because I did yesterday and paid a penalty for it. Today I tried to take a little bit of a breath and also paid for it a little bit. Now I’ll find the happy medium ground.”
In its fourth year of competition, the Rolex Central Park Horse Show has become an iconic fixture for equestrians and horse enthusiasts alike, bringing the best of the best to Manhattan and providing a growing platform of exposure for equestrian sport. Mark Bellissimo, CEO of International Equestrian Group (IEG), discussed the detailed planning and operational logistics of the behind-the-scenes work conducted pre, during, and post show, and hopes that the event continues to grow beyond its current reach.
For the full results, visit this link.