Kent Farrington & Gazelle. Ph ©LGCT/Stefano Grasso
Longines FEI World No. 1 Kent Farrington thrilled thousands of spectators in Madrid, Spain when he won the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Madrid CSI5* aboard Robin Parsky’s Gazelle.
Farrington admitted that he “won by a whisker” ahead of Germany’s Marcus Ehning and Pret a Tout, who just missed out on taking this grand prix title for the second year in a row.
Dutch rider Maikel van der Vleuten came 3rd with VDL Groep Verdi TN NOP, with all three of the top riders finishing clear and under 45 seconds in the jumpoff.
“It was a coin toss who won. Both of these guys have won this grand prix before so I am glad they let me in the club!’” Farrington joked. “I’m thrilled. I think what I have today is years of work, great support and all my owners and really strong team of multiple horses. At the highest level it takes a big team of horses and I feel very fortunate.”
“It was a coin toss who won. Both of these guys have won this grand prix before so I am glad they let me in the club!’”
Course designer Santiago Varela Ullastres made full use of the galloping grass arena in his LGCT Grand Prix course. Following the first couple of riders, the time allowed was altered from 80 seconds to 78, as 25 pairs took to the track with high hopes of the win.
But just Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca and Bassem Hasan Mohammed of Qatar went clean to join the jumpoff, making it an order of five over the shortened course.
Ehning and Pret a Tout were the first to go, fully revved up to defend their 2016 LGCT Grand Prix of Madrid title. With a calm exterior and nerves of steel, the top German rider kept up the gallop, with the large striding chestnut eating up the distances to set the bench mark at 45.68 seconds. Van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Verdi TN N.O.P. gave it their all—they had a scary touch of a vertical, but finished clear just fractions behind in 45.86 seconds.
The show ground went silent once more as Farrington and Gazelle entered the ring. The 11-year-old Belgian bred mare (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Indoctro) jumped her heart out for the American rider, turning swiftly and leaping at the fences with a flat out gallop to the last. Shaving off fractions of a second, Farrington guided her to the final fence, and the crowd erupted in cheers as they pipped Ehning’s time by five tenths of a second in 45.18 seconds.
“Last year I won here and this year I am 2nd, so I can’t be more pleased,” Ehning said. “If you have these guys behind you it can never be enough. I lost it a bit in front before the double but that happens in the jump off. Kent was a bit more aggressive in everything and he deserved to win here.”
De Luca continues his reign at the top of the LGCT Ranking series lead, with a score of 133 overall. Be he will have one eye over his shoulder, as van der Vlueten has closed the gap to the top, now sitting just 9 points behind in 2nd place after his third podium this season. Compatriot Harrie Smolders has leapfrogged up to 3rd in overall rankings.