Calculating and calm as only a world-class athlete could be under pressure, World No. 4 rider Kent Farrington laid down an untouchable jump off round in the $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Lexington, presented by CP at the CP National Horse Show.
Rarely does a class of this caliber end in such a shutout fashion; but a shutout it was. Farrington and the Amalaya Investments’ Voyeur were dominant, galloping to the base of each fence and taking risks at every turn. The crowd began cheering and whistling before Farrington approached the final fence, and when he crossed the timers almost four seconds faster than the next best competitor, the Alltech Arena in Lexington, KY, went wild.
“I was really hungry to win tonight. I hadn’t won anything this whole show, I don’t think anyone even knew I was here, “ Farrington laughed. He won this same class last year, with Voyeur. “Last week in Washington I didn’t win anything either, so I was looking for redemption to say the least. My plan was to be super aggressive in the jump off and try to make everyone have to chase me after that. I think my horse was fantastic. He’s also a speed specialist. I try to keep him under control towards the end of the course so he doesn’t get running too fast. But he was fantastic tonight and I’m obviously thrilled with the result.”
Jumped in round one of Saturday’s World Cup Qualifier, designed by Michel Vaillancourt, featured many of Kentucky’s recognizable landmarks; Keeneland Racetrack, Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital, Louisville Slugger Bats, and Kentucky native Muhammad Ali were all paid tribute throughout the course. Of the starting 40 competitors, 14 jumped clear rounds to move on to the jump off phase.
“I knew we had a strong field competing tonight. I envisioned at least 10 or 12 clear rounds coming into the jump off,” Vaillancourt explained. “I thought the course was proper, but this venue is a little bit larger than most and it rides a little more forward that most. I really praise these athletes with how they came and how prepared they were to navigate the course. They showed us that they are top quality and we’re proud that we have such quality competition here in North America. Our job as designers is getting tougher and tougher thanks to you guys!”
American rider Callan Solem would settle for 2nd place behind Farrington aboard the Horseshoe Trail Farm LLC ride VDL Wizard (Gentleman x Pretty). A smile as she crossed the timers in 40.69 seconds made it clear she was pleased with her horse’s effort.
“I really couldn’t have made a plan that could have beat Kent tonight on that horse,” Solem said with a nod to Farrington’s impressive performance. “I am thrilled with my horse. We spent the summer competing in Europe on Nations Cup teams, so he’s had a full schedule. But he felt as good tonight as he did back in January. ”
Rounding out the top three placings was the USA’s Molly Ashe, who jumped the fast track aboard the Maarten Huygens entry Carissimo (Calando I x Ciave) in a time of 45.86 seconds.
“I was hoping for exactly what happened in the jump off,” Ashe explained. “I played it safe and went around quickly from 1 to 2 and tried to get an OK time without knocking anything down. I would have ended up in exactly the same place if I’d gone inside.”
Finishing in 4th place was the Candy Tribble owned Aristoteles V with Jonathan McCrae aboard, in 49.67 seconds. With the closest time to Farrington’s but an unfortunate fence down in the jump off, McLain Ward and the 10-year-old bay mare HH Azur ended up in the 5th position.
As for Farrington, a hungry approach paid off in a big way.
“I don’t think it was my smoothest round,” Farrington said. “When you’re going that fast, and you roll back to the fences that short, there’s a moment when you’re sort of calling on the horse to make a big effort. I’m glad I’m not in the equitation final tonight, but I’m happy to win a chunk of money!”
With the win, Farrington widens his lead in the FEI World Cup Jumping North American League – East. Three more qualifiers remain on the Eastern League Calendar, with Toronto, Ontario coming up in one week.