Horse of the Week: Voyeur

Voyeur-8

When I stood in the Palexpo Arena at CHI Geneva last Friday night and watched Voyeur steamroll the competition to win the Rolex IJRC Top Ten Final, I was actually thinking about a different jump-off altogether.

On the night of March 7th, 2012, Kent Farrington rode a new horse to qualify for the jump-off of the $200,000 CSI4* World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. It was one of those Saturday nights in the winter when the weather was blessedly warm enough for a t-shirt and the place was packed with a party atmosphere.

Serious riders lined up for the jump-off under the lights of the WEF International Arena, including Scott Brash and a pre-Olympics Hello Sanctos, and Richard Spooner with his lightning fast Cristallo. Brash would go on to win the class (marking his first victory with Sanctos), but I can’t remember their ride. I can only remember Farrington at the reins of a horse that was not unlike a harnessed tornado, hanging on at the kind of speed that made the people watching gasp in disbelief. That horse was Voyeur.

We were a little worried for Farrington, to tell you the truth. The horse was going so fast that any sane person would have called it bolting. But even though Voyeur was just barely under control, Farrington kept making the turns and meeting the fences, and his time was good enough to earn him 3rd place – and a sigh of relief from the audience when the two of them crossed the finish timers in one piece.

In that night’s press conference, with a smile Farrington fessed up to not having the most control in the jump-off, but spoke optimistically of the promise Voyeur had for the future. March 7th, 2012 proved to be a very fitting preview to the brilliant pair that the two of them would become – give or take a couple of years. 

“He’s a special horse, as I think a lot of the top horses are.”

Fast forward to now and Farrington and Voyeur’s most recent performance at Geneva was one more example of the successful partnership that has evolved between himself and the 13-year-old, Dutch Warmblood gelding (Tolano Van’t Riethof x Goodwill) that is owned by Amalaya Investments. What Farrington didn’t have in control when he first got the horse he has in spades now.

“You know, he’s a special horse, as I think a lot of the top horses are,” Farrington says. “He’s a little difficult with a lot of blood, but he’s gotten better with age and experience.”

He’s also filled out more as he’s matured, and with a shining coat and amazing muscle definition, the compact, powerful gelding cared for closely by Irish groom Denise Moriarty is the very picture of a top athlete. In the barn, “Froggy”, whose forelock is short-to-nonexistent, is quite talkative to horses and human alike and loves relaxation time in the paddock.

“He’s gotten more manageable than he was when I started,” Farrington says. “I try to keep his mind as calm as possible. The jump-offs are actually easier than the first round because you can kind of let him go his own speed and he likes that. So the first round I try to keep him calm and I do my best to not let him get too aggressive.”

That routine is clearly working – since 2012, Farrington and Voyeur have won over 20 CSI classes, most of them five stars and many of them major grand prixs. He competed in all three Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Majors in 2015, placing 5th at Aachen and 4th most recently at Geneva. Between competitions in Calgary, Hamburg, Geneva, and all points in between, he covered more air miles than you or me. He’s eighth in the country on the USEF Horse List, and has helped his rider become the leader of the Rolex/USEF Rider Rankings, to say nothing of Farrington’s current Longines FEI International Jumping Ranking of No. 2 in the world.

This year was Farrington’s most successful one yet, and while he has a whole string of talented horses that all play a critical part in his success, Voyeur gets top billing as a model of consistency. When he’s on and in “controlled-tornado mode” there’s simply no stopping him.

Will Voyeur help Farrington become the number one rider in the world? If he does, it won’t be because Farrington spends a lot of time looking at ranking lists.

“A ranking is a consequence of good results, but it’s not something that I chase or worry about, he said. “I try to focus on winning big classes and keeping my horses on form for those days. I’d like to be number one in the world one day, but I think that will happen all by itself without me doing anything different than I’m already doing.”

Voyeur racked up his last air miles of the year when he headed to his winter base in Wellington, Florida after Geneva for some well-earned rest and relaxation. When WEF 2016 kicks off, he’ll return to the arena where his career with Farrington began, his tornado-like power honed into a fine partnership with his rider.


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