In a thrilling prelude to the Saturday Night Lights Grand Prix CSI5*, Kent Farrington masterfully piloted Dublin to his first FEI win in the CSI5* $130,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic Final on Saturday, March 25, 2017 in Wellington.
Last to go in Round 2, the second of Farrington’s two mounts blazed to victory in an unbeatable time of 41.90 seconds.
“I’m really excited,” said an elated Farrington. “I thought both of my horses went great today. I’ve been bringing them along really slow starting them both in the 1.35m division, and have built them up this whole winter. To finish off with them both going clear in the 1.50m final is a great accomplishment for them, regardless of the results. The win was a bonus.”
With show jumping’s attention expected to be focused on the 2017 FEI World Cup™ Final in Omaha, Nebraska on March 29th, the series finale was held during week 11 of the Florida winter circuit this year.
As in previous years, the class was held in a unique format for the finale’s proceedings; Saturday’s afternoon session featured an entry list of 49 horse and rider combinations over the first round course. According to penalties and time, 25% of the original starters, returned for the second round’s evening session promptly at 6:30pm prior to the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5*. The final placings were determined by an accumulative score over two rounds.
By the conclusion of Round 1, 11 delivered clear efforts, with Farrington and McLain Ward occupying four of those spots. Ireland’s Daniel Coyle advanced on one time fault and the USA’s Kristen VanderVeen was the fastest four-faulter to make up the final 13.
After close to a three hour gap, the 13 combinations returned to tackle the shortened track. With only 9 fences, Guilherme Jorge’s course tested riders on decisiveness and speed.
Even though he went on to win the overall 2017 Suncast® Jumper Series Championship title with 296 points, Ward would mark his previously clean score card on both mounts with four faults. Eventual 3rd place finisher, Portugal’s Luciana Diniz, delivered the first double clear in 44.26 seconds. Hot on her heels, Ali Wolff also rode double clear in 48.93 seconds to place 4th.
A wide smile spread across the face of Tiffany Foster as she cleared the last oxer with the 11-year-old KWPN gelding Brighton to take over the lead from Diniz with a time of 43.05 seconds.
But as so often occurs in the sport of show jumping, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. Last to enter the ring, Farrington rode Dublin a full second ahead of Foster with an impressive rollback at the in-gate to a vertical at fence four for the class’ top spot.
Strong buzz has surrounded Dublin since the 10-year-old grey Belgian Warmblood (Cobra x Calido) since he jumped double clear for 3rd place with the USA’s Carly Anthony during the $130,000 Engel & Volkers CSI4* Grand Prix at WEF last season. Since his purchase of Dublin this past winter, Farrington has been developing the impressive talent, building on confidence and rideability at the higher levels.
“He’s extremely careful, and quite difficult to ride. He’s so careful that he borderlines on being too careful,” Farrington described of his winning mount. “I think this horse really needs to bond with a rider and have a lot of confidence. Whether or not he’ll allow you to have total control over him I don’t know. If we can find a good compromise in the middle like today, then I think he has a big future. Time still has to show us, but we’re off to a great start and we’ll see where it takes us from here.”
View the full results of Saturday’s CSI5* $130,000 Suncast® 1.50m Classic Championship at this link.