Style of riding was on full display at the Winter Equestrian Festival, Week 7 on Thursday, February 23, 2017 when Kent Farrington rode the flashy Creedance to victory in the $130,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup, Round 7 during the second, CSI5* rated week of the winter circuit.
Midway through the 12-week circuit is when the star power starts to show up in force, and the day’s entry list proved it; Longines FEI World No. 1 rider Daniel Deusser of Germany is competing in Wellington, Florida for the first time this week, and he jumped a clear round aboard his 2014 World Cup Final champion, Cornet D’Amour.
However, with a single pole down, Deusser didn’t return with the jumpoff roster of 14 pairs that jumped clear from an original order of 57 over Anthony D’Ambrosio’s challenging track.
The time allowed was a big factor in the clears; seven pairs left the jumps in the cups but picked up just one, or two time faults to end their afternoon early. And while the group that returned were thoroughly on their game, topping Farrington and the 10-year-old KWPN gelding (Lord Z x Notaris) was always going to be a tall order.
In the jumpoff, a tight rollback turn to a tall, black EQUO vertical was one of the places that Farrington made up the fraction of a second that put him ahead of eventual 2nd placed finishers Conor Swail & Flower for Ireland.
“I did one extra stride to the oxer before, so I think that probably made it easier to rollback shorter, said Farrington, who himself is ranked as the No. 2 rider in the world. “He’s fast enough to do that, whereas slower horses, if they add a stride there, and they’re going be two seconds behind. I think a smaller, quicker horse has the advantage on a rollback like that.”
The margins were tight; Farrington crossed the finish timers in 33.92 seconds, with Swail clocking in at 34.14.
But this is the second strong finish this season for Swail and Flower, a 12-year-old BWP mare (Bon Ami x Randel Z) owned by Nina Fagerstrom. Swail just started riding Flower earlier this year, and also placed 2nd in the WEF Week 1 $75,000 Rosenbaum Mollengarden Grand Prix.
Following up in 3rd place was a thrilled Karen Polle for Japan. She jumped the strongest rounds yet this season aboard her veteran partner With Wings, finishing close behind Swail’s time in 34.24 seconds.
“I was just a little bit wider than I wanted to be in one turn which was just my mistake,” she commented. Her horse’s unique aversion to the ingate—Polle has special permission to mount inside the ring—didn’t get in his way when Polle returned for the jumpoff by cantering straight under the PBIEC ingate bridge.
“Once he’s in, whether he’s bad or not, he’s perfect in the ring,” she said. “It doesn’t really bother me that much.”
Polle was all smiles even as With Wings, a 14-year-old KWPN gelding (Larino x L.Ronald), jigged and spooked his way through the prizegiving ceremony. Polle is already looking forward to Saturday evening’s $380,000 Suncast Grand Prix CSI5*, and shared that she tries to keep her horse a little fresh.
Back to that style of riding award; Creedance was draped with two neck ribbons during the prizegiving, one for his 1st place finish and one for honors of the Champion Equine Insurance Jumper Style Award, a special honor this week.
While Farrington admitted that Creedance felt a little rusty during competition this week, he smiled when discussing the way his horse has come onto form for this, Creedance’s first, five star show at WEF.
“It’s a big week here, the five star week in Florida, and he’s off to a great start,” Farrington said. “He came out in much better form today, so I’m happy with his progress.”
Lauren Hough & Waterford placed 4th for the USA, and fellow American rider Marilyn Little was 5th aboard Clearwater. Margie Engle rounded out the double clears for 6th place with Royce.
The complete results of the $130,000 WEF Challenge Cup, Round 7 can be seen here.