The USA’s Kent Farrington got the result he wanted on the third day of competition at Jumping Dinard International CSI5* in Dinard, France with Amalaya Investments’ Willow.
Over a two round competition in the €24,500 Prix Hotel Royal Emeraude CSI5* 1.50m, Farrington took first place over Gregory Wathelet and Riesling du Monselet of Belgium in a seven-horse jump-off. Bertram Allen and Belmonde placed 3rd for Ireland.
It was an especially satisfying win for Farrington, who started the week with an uncharacteristic elimination aboard Willow, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Guidam x Starina) owned by Amalaya Invesments.
Thursday’s CSI5* warm-up class didn’t go as planned when Willow lost momentum on the approach to a double, and balked again at a liverpool set under an airy white vertical. But FEI ranked world No. 3 Farrington took it all in stride with a positive plan for the following day.
“Willow hadn’t been on the grass in a while, so at first he was a little bit spooky here,” Farrington explained. He’s a quirky horse, so sometimes he can be like that.”
Friday’s class went better for Farrington and Willow, with just a single rail down in the Prix Suez Environment 1.55m. “I thought that on Friday in the 1.50m he had a great round,” Farrington added. “We had 3A down, but half the class had that one down.” Fast forward to Saturday morning’s CSI5*, a well-constructed track that took riders around the sweeping, grass international arena at Stade Val Porée. Farrington laid down a confident first round with Willow, tackling each obstacle with a confident ride and sailed over the aforementioned liverpool vertical with ease.
The shortened jump-off course gave riders an option to save time taking a turn from the second to third obstacle on course, a double combination. First-in, Nicola Philippaerts of Belgium, executed the turn well but paid for it with faults at the next two fences; third place finisher Allen faulted there as well. Wathelet, who won Friday’s Prix cu C. Départemental d’Ille et Vilaine 1.45m with Riesling du Monselet, took an arm-flapping, all out galloping pace to the final fence to finish clear on a time of 38.41 seconds, but Farrington’s subsequent clear in 38.39 seconds would stand as the best of the class.
Jumping Dinard fit well into Farrington’s overall plan for Willow, serving as apt preparation for the flashy grey gelding’s next stop−the upcoming Longines Global Champions Tour of Valkenswaard CSI5* on August 13th. That leg of the LGCT will also be held on a wide open grass field, and with a brand new stadium, the atmosphere will match that of Dinard’s.
“It’s the first time they’ve held a five star here in Dinard, and the first time for me showing here,” Farrington said. “I’m enjoying it, it’s a great venue, a great atmosphere and great conditions. And all in all my horse has had a very good show.”