Kent Farrington and Gazelle Gold Cup
Kent Farrington and Gazelle Conquer 2016 American Gold Cup
The 2016 American Gold Cup came to a conclusion on Sunday, September 18th, culminating a full week of world-class show jumping competition with the highly anticipated $216,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping New York CSI4*-W. Equestrian fans and spectators gathered at Old Salem Farm and watched as Kent Farrington (USA) captured the American Gold Cup aboard his own and Robin Parsky's Gazelle.
Forty horses and athletes, who qualified for the week's main event in Friday's $86,000 American Gold Cup Qualifier, not only competed for the coveted prize money on Sunday, but also for valuable ranking points within the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League.
Course designer Alan Wade set a technical and challenging first round track which only saw two athletes produce clear rounds to advance to the short course. The 13-fence obstacle course tested athletes and horses over triple and double combinations, a liverpool, tight rollbacks, fragile, narrow verticals and tricky bending lines.
Charlie Jacobs (USA) and Cassinja S, owned by CMJ Sporthorse, LLC, were the first clear pathfinders, making the course look effortless and easy. The crowd watched with bated breath as athlete after athlete followed Jacobs' performance and attempted to finish fault-free over the first round track, but none were able to do so until 2016 U.S. Show Jumping Team silver medalist Farrington entered the Grand Prix Field as 36th in the order. He piloted the ten-year-old Belgium Warmblood mare to the last faultless finish of the first round, which would secure a jump-off between Farrington and Jacobs.
Going head-to-head in the tiebreaker, Jacobs returned to the field first to tackle the nine-fence jump-off course. The pair started strong over Wade's shortened track, but the ten-year-old mare just brushed the back rail over the third to last oxer to collect four faults in 48.690 seconds. Thus, all Farrington had to do to win the class was jump clear.
The experienced show jumping veteran showed no mercy and did just that to claim his first grand prix victory at the American Gold Cup. With no faults, they crossed the finish line in 53.180 seconds for the win.
"I thought Alan Wade built a difficult course today, which I think is well suited for a class of this prestige and prize money," said Farrington. "With it also being a World Cup qualifier, I think it brings the best riders we have using top horses. It worked out for me to win today, but regardless of that I thought it was a great competition and I am thrilled to finally win the American Gold Cup. I've never done that before and it was on my list of things to do."
However, Farrington was not done with his performance just yet as immediately after galloping through the timers, Gazelle spooked and knocked Farrington out of the saddle. Farrington got right up and was all smiles as he caught Gazelle and took a bow for the crowd after sticking his involuntary landing.
"She spooked at something at the end of the jump-off," said Farrington. "She did that in the first round. She's a really special horse. A lot of my horses are like that. I try to find horses that are careful, and that makes them a bit skittish and sometimes a little bit funny about anything moving fast or anything that looks a bit different to them. That's their quality and that's what makes them great and able to win a lot of classes. It's also makes them a little strange sometimes and you don't know exactly what they are going to do. I finished the round and I thought, 'Oh that's over,' and I leaned forward to give her a pat on the neck and canter around the pond and she had a different idea to turn around and go back to the gate. So we compromised with a front flip and bow!"
With no other major championships occurring in 2017, athletes, such as Farrington, are focused on qualifying for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Finals in Omaha, Nebraska, in March 2017, and the American Gold Cup is proud to host the second leg of the East Coast qualifying events.
"This year, especially with it being in the United States, I'd like to go if I feel like I have a horse that is on form at that time," said Farrington. "I've been to the World Cup Finals a few times. I really only want to go if I think I'm going to be a contender, but I'd like to plan on going right now.
"The World Cup Final is a very particular type of competition," continued Farrington. "It's in a small indoor arena so you really need an indoor specialist. They have to be able to hold up over five rounds, which is a lot of jumping. I wouldn't necessarily take Voyeur, who is an older horse. He's done multiple championships already for me. I think that would be a big ask of him at this point in his career. I'd rather spot him towards individual competitions. If one of my younger ones is ready, in my eyes, to go then I'll take a swing at it."
Source: Phelps Media Group