It’s not every day that a rider can top Kent Farrington in a jump off—but when they do it’s a moment to relish for all its glory.
On Saturday, March 18th, 2017 Brazil’s Jose Roberto Reynoso accomplished that feat when he secured victory over the American king of speed in the $130,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI3*.
Similar to last week’s grand prix winner Karen Polle, Reynoso had a night of memorable firsts. The 2012 London Olympic veteran marked his first season competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival with his first win on American soil.
“I knew that Kent was a really, really fast rider,” he commented. “I just tried to go faster, and it happened!”
Partnered with the Belgian Warmblood Galip (Nonstop x Juanita), an 11-year-old gelding that he’s been developing for less than a year, the duo bested a field of 45 starters in a six-man jump-off for top honors in the premier competition of the Florida winter circuit’s tenth week.
“I bought him six months ago,” Reynoso described of his recent partnership with Galip. “Since I bought him he’s just been growing up and doing really well. He’s just been going better and better. Today he was just amazing.”
Spectators of Saturday night’s class enjoyed a picturesque Florida atmosphere, welcomed by clear skies and some of the warmest weather in recent days after a cold spell that surfaced earlier in the week.
Michel Vaillancourt of Canada’s 14-fence track also provided a backdrop in which some of the younger talent in the field were able to shine including Wilton Porter and Paris Sellon.
Multiple rounds would prove that making it under the 85 second time allowed was an achievable goal but was just tight enough for others such as Germany’s Wilhem Genn and the USA’s Cara Anthony. Both would make it clear down the home stretch, only to have their excitement cut short with a single time fault each. Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam who had a stellar string of five-star wins during WEF Week 8 found no such luck during this grand prix as one of 10 combinations finishing their night on 4 faults.
The eventual 3rd place finisher, 18-year-old Eve Jobs, gave the class its first clear aboard Tiny Toon Semilly. The 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding who Jobs added to her string this past January, has been performing well in the pair’s debut season together; they placed 5th on Thursday in Round 10 of the $35,000 WEF Challenge Cup.
“I got this horse about a month and a half ago. I’ve really recently been jumping the two stars and my trainer Eddie Macken has just been putting me in the bigger classes and it’s been going really well,” shared an ecstatic Jobs. “[Eddie] thought it would be a really good experience for me. It’s the last three star of the circuit, next week is a five star. We just thought we might as well give it a try and see how it goes.”
Next to follow suit was 20-year-old Spencer Smith and Rivale Du Barquet, with Reynoso and Galip bringing in the third clear round prior to the ring drag.
The remaining three clears would come from Colombia’s Alberto Teran Jr. and the USA’s Farrington and Lauren Hough.
Jobs, the first to return over the shortened course, became the first double clear of the night setting the pace to beat at 37.80 seconds.
“This was my first night class so I was just trying to go for a really nice double clear. This is the biggest we’ve jumped to date, I couldn’t be happier. He jumped amazing and felt great,” Jobs went on to share.
Next in the ring, Smith and the 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Adelfos x Gamine D’Arade) finished their night on eight faults with a rail lowered and a refusal on course. Reynoso and Galip’s stretch over the last oxer to clock a time of 35.57 seconds was rewarded with great enthusiasm from the crowd and a takeover of the class’ top spot. Colombia’s Alberto Teran also rode double clear, crossing the timers at 38.25 seconds for an eventual 4th place finish.
Farrington’s ride was all about redemption. Taking quite the tumble with a miscommunication on the approach to the open water in last week’s five-star grand prix with the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood Creedance (Lord Z x Camantha), the Rio Olympics team silver medalist set the intention for the night’s class to improve on his partner’s experience at the higher levels.
“This was a recovery,” commented Farrington. “I got thrown on my head last week, so that wasn’t ideal. I thought he jumped great in the WEF, and I thought he jumped great again tonight. My strategy was good for the jump-off. Unfortunately, I just got beat today. I think the jump-off suited a longer-strided horse. I had to add to the oxer across the middle before the double vertical and I think that’s where I lost.”
The pair gave Reynoso a good run for their money with tight turns and galloping strides as per Farrington-fashion. Unfortunately their night’s efforts weren’t quite fast enough, coming in at a time of 36.23 seconds for 2nd place while Lauren Hough and 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Waterford (Coolcorron Cool Diamond x Probanta) ended their second round on 4 faults and 5th place.
With much of his career success achieved in South America, the winner’s quiet smile hinted at a reserved inner disbelief of the accomplishment of a CSI victory in his first visit to Wellington. No doubt Reynoso’s excitement from Saturday’s class will follow him for the remainder of the two weeks of circuit.
“I’m really, really happy. It’s a dream to be here, and to come from Brazil and win something like this grand prix. It is my first time in Wellington,” he said. “My father was a really good rider, my whole family rides. I came just because of a dream, I did everything I could do in Brazil and just wanted to try something new.”
View full results of Saturday’s CSI3* $130,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix here.