On the eve of the Rolex Top Ten Final, the USA’s Kent Farrington kicked off his return to Switzerland with a vengeance, winning the Credit Suisse Grand Prix Qualifier aboard Creedance. As one of only two double clear rides on the first day of the CHI Geneva CSI5*, Farrington recorded a strong start to the event, in the hopes of repeating his Rolex Top Ten Final victory last year.
The grand prix qualifier for Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix saw 50 international horse-and-rider combinations enter the Palexpo Areno to take on the 13-fence track. However, only 9 pairs were able to claim clear score sheets in the first round.
Starting the class off in enthusiastic fashion was local rider, Christina Liebherr, and the 12-year-old BWP stallion L.B. Eagle Eye (Darco x Dobel’s Cento). They were the first pair in the ring and the first to ride clear.
Nearly 20 riders thereafter were unable to advance from either recording time faults for exceeding the 64 seconds allowed or from lowering poles on course. The list grew to include top names and contenders such as Harrie Smolders, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Christian Ahlmann, Rolf Göran-Bengtsson, and Robert Whitaker.
Liebherr didn’t have company in the first-round clear club until 14 trips later when Michael Whitaker produced the second clear of the night riding Viking (Jacomar x Almox Prints). Clear rounds continued to allude many until Great Britain’s Scott Brash and Hello M’Lady (Indoctro x Baloubet du Rouet) jumped clear followed closely behind by Kent Farrington and Creedance (Lord Z x Notaris)
At the conclusion of Round 1, Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca, USA’s McLain Ward, Germany’s Daniel Deusser, Ireland’s Cian O’Connor, and Belgium’s Jérome Guery would jump clear, making Thursday’s class a nine-man jump off with seven different countries represented.
As Cian O’Connor elected to withdraw from jump off competition, the remaining eight took to the shortened course. Six knocked down a single pole, and in the end, it was Farrington who finished with all the poles in place and with a 5.07-second advantage to take the win.
Jérome Guery and the 10-year-old BWP chestnut gelding Grand Cru van de Rozenberg (Malito de Reve x Heartbreaker) produced the second double-clear performance of the evening, riding into second place with a time of 42.10 seconds
Third went to Grand Slam of Show Jumping contender Scott Brash with 4 faults and a time of 36.73 seconds, while 4th would go to Germany’s Daniel Deusser and Sweet de Beaufour (Diamant de Semilly x Kannan) also on 4 faults in 37.99 seconds.
As the first American rider to win the Rolex Top Ten Final, Farrington heads into tomorrow’s competition with some much desired momentum as he will try for two in a row.
CHI Geneva’s 16th annual Rolex IJRC Top Ten Final begins Friday, December 9, starting at 8:00 pm local time. For more information see here.
See full results for the Credit Suisse Grand Prix Qualifier at this link.