Competing this week as the sole Team USA representative at the prestigious Global Champions Tour Shanghai, World No. 4 rider Kent Farrington took first prize in Friday’s opening class aboard the slight but speedy Blue Angel.
CSI5* competition in Shanghai has brought some of the top riders in the world to the China Art Palace, where a spectacular temporary show jumping competition venue has been constructed on the banks of the Huangpu River in central Shanghai. The week’s classes began with a CSI5* 1.45m speed format competition, used by many of the riders to allow their horses to stretch their legs ahead of Saturday’s Longines Global Champions Tour CSI5* Grand Prix of Shanghai.
Farrington and Robin Parsky’s Blue Angel, a 13-year-old Anglo-European mare by Luidam, jumped clear in 32.80 seconds ahead of second-placed finisher, Germany’s Marco Kutscher and van Gogh, who stopped the clock in 33.33 seconds.
For his part, Kutscher completed an especially successful day by moving on to claim first place with Cornet’s Cristallop in the following class, a 1.50m CSI5* two-round competition accompanied by a hefty $371,000 purse.
Valiant spectators braved a heavy downpour determined to stay in their seats and watch the climax of the class, which culminated in a thrilling jump-off between 13 riders with plenty of calculated risk taking by some of the best in the world.
First in the impressive sand arena, Doda de Miranda with AD Rahmannshof’s Bogeno set a blistering pace that had the remainder of the field chasing him until the very last to go. The Brazilian rider watched every round avidly, and his lead looked in jeopardy when Scott Brash and Hello Annie came within 0.2 seconds of his time.
With the rain pouring down, the sport heated up, and Marc Houtzager on Sterrehof’s Uppity was the first to usurp Doda at the top of the leaderboard with a time of 37.82. Houtzager’s lead did not last long as Henrik von Eckermann followed him into the arena on the chestnut mare Gotha and immediately seized the lead in 37.33. But it was last to go, Kutscher with Cornet’s Cristallo, who took the eventual pole position successfully executing all the necessary risks and crossing the finish line a whole second in front on 36.28.