2015 Longines International Grand Prix of Dublin
Kent Farrington and Uceko Win €200,000 Longines International Grand Prix of Ireland at Dublin Horse Show
Kent Farrington and RCG Farm’s Uceko followed up on their second placed 2014 finish in the Longines International Grand Prix of Ireland to secure victory in the 2015 edition of the Discover Ireland Royal Dublin Horse Show’s final international competition.
It was with a touch of redemption that Farrington secured the win for the United States on the closing day of the 88th annual Royal Dublin Horse Show CSIO5* in Ireland. After a rocky couple of days for the American riders at Dublin, bringing this particular trophy back to the Team USA stable row raised the spirits of everyone representing and cheering for the stars and stripes this week in Dublin.
Farrington and his veteran partner, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Celano x Koriander), completed a very tough Round One track constructed by Alan Wade that saw only 8 out of 40 starters jump clear, and proceeded to fly to an unbeatable 43.14 seconds in the jump-off for a sweeping victory in the €200,000 Longines International Grand Prix of Ireland.
Early on in Round One, a tough triple bar presented at fence two and rode in five or six strides to a 1.60m plank vertical on flat cups. Faults at those two fences contributed to eight riders retiring on course, including Irish hero Cian O’Connor, and Saturday evening’s Puissance winner, Sameh el Dahan.
“Alan is one of the best course designers in modern show jumping. Today was no exception, and I thought that the Nations Cup on Friday was also excellent,” Farrington added. It was true that the courses Wade built all week had all the well-balanced elements of technicality, height, and time to create a top level of sport.
Back to the Grand Prix, the jump-off round didn’t let off on the pressure. Farrington was the first to note that show jumping is a game of staying focused and moving on to the next day. He didn’t make Friday’s Nations Cup team after Blue Angel was eliminated on course during a warm-up class early in the week (Team USA went on to finish last in the Nations Cup and didn’t lead a victory gallop all week.)
While Uceko warmed up well for Sunday’s Grand Prix with a double clear and top five finish in Saturday’s ranking class, Farrington acknowledged the unpredictable, inherently challenging nature of the sport.
“[Blue Angel] didn’t go very well here, and it’s gone great [with her] in the past but that’s part of being a pro, being able to stay focused and move on to the next day,” Farrington detailed. “That’s also part of show jumping. You go from hero to zero in a second, and maintaining your composure and staying focused, that’s what the job is all about.”
Of course, coming out the hero is always the goal, and Farrington, who carefully plots Uceko’s schedule, set his horse up for success in a venue that he knew the grey gelding would take to.
“I try to really manage his schedule so that he shows at only the places he likes,” Farrington said (their last win was at Spruce Meadows, Calgary, Canada on July 3rd.) “He loves grass rings and big jumps, so I just try to pick those Grand Prixs. He’s really a special horse and I feel lucky to have him in my stable. A special thank you to the owners, RCG Farm, and all of my supporters really. I have a great team of people behind me in my career, and that’s why we’re here today.”
“We’re in North America a lot, and we come up against Kent a lot,” added 3rd placed rider Swail. “So it’s no surprise at all that he’s coming here and winning. He’s a winning machine; he doesn’t know how to lose, to be honest. It’s very difficult when he’s in a class and he gets it all right.”
Prestige held a special meaning at the Dublin Horse Show. From the full brass band that paraded into the arena for the final international class, to the trophy presentation and the formally dressed officials, this competition holds its own particular level of honor among the busy international show jumping calendar.
“This is one of the most prestigious horse shows in the world,” Farrington concluded. “It’s been a longstanding staple of world class show jumping and it continues to be so today. I always love coming here, there’s a really enthusiastic crowd, and I can’t think of too many other venues that are this exciting to compete in.”
Farrington became the eighth American in history to win the Grand Prix of Ireland – the first being George H. Morris in 1958. There’s not much more of a prestigious path to follow than that.