North American Rolex
Kent Farrington & Gazelle Win $500,000 ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Spruce Meadows
After three rounds of competition in the International Ring at Spruce Meadows, USA’s Kent Farrington emerged victorious in the $500,000 ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Recently climbing to No. 5 from No. 6 in the FEI World Rankings, Farrington has shown no signs of slowing down on his quest to achieve World No. 1.
The class was the highlight event of the ‘North American’ Tournament at Spruce Meadows and the final week of competition of the Summer Series. Thirty-nine riders hailing from twelve nations took on the first round track, designed by Spain’s Santiago Varela. And once again, time proved to be one of the track’s greatest challenges.
“He had a measured first round,” Farrington reflected on Varela’s first round course. “It was difficult with the short time allowed that put a lot of pressure on people that caused them to have rails that they wouldn’t have normally have had.”
Twelve riders progressed into the second round, eight of which qualified on clear rounds. With the conclusion of round two, six riders were sitting on double-clear rounds to head into the jump off.
First to contest the jump off was American rider Jonathan McCrea aboard Aristoteles V (Padinus x Lux). The pathfinders jumped the shortened track fault free to ultimately finish fourth with a time of 45.52 seconds. Next to jump clear was Farrington, and with a blazing fast time of 40.50 seconds, he easily climbed to the top of the leader board with the agile 10-year old Belgian Warmblood mare (Kashmir van Shuttershof x Indoctro). Canada’s Eric Lamaze and Check Picobello Z (Cardento x Orlando) also gave the short track a good run, but finished in a time of 43.98 seconds that would eventually land them in 3rd.
With one rider remaining, Farrington’s time was still holding up, but he didn’t yet think he had the class won: “I never think [my time] will hold up until the class is finished. I’m never that confident, because that’s when you get caught,” he said.
However, Farrington knew the time he produced with talented mare he co-owns with Robin Parsky would be a tough one to beat: “I thought I put a lot of pressure on everybody else. I’m not one who really plays it safe. I like to try and win classes, I don’t think you win as much if you’re playing by trying not to lose. I usually have my own plan of what I think is within the horse’s ability, and I try and work within those limits and make the most of the track.”
Farrington thought the three rounds of competition suited Gazelle’s stamina well: “That horse has really come on strong. One of her strengths is that she has a lot of blood, and a lot of energy. So she kind of gets better as she goes.”
“I don’t want to say I’m totally surprised, because I always thought there was a very good horse,” Farrington said of the mare’s recent successes. “I got her when she was seven and have been bringing her along these last few years. She’s had her ups and downs, like all of them, but I always thought she would be where she is today, so I’m very pleased.”
Course designer Santiago Varela was pleased with the competition he saw today. “I thought it was a very nice show and a very good class,” Varela said. “I wanted to have a jump off today, and we put a lot of pressure in the first round as opposed to the second one to keep the horses fresh for the jump-off.”
Next up for Varela will be the Olympic Games, where he will act as technical delegate for the course designer, Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge.
Farrington, too, will travel to the Olympic Games. But first, he will compete in Europe with both Gazelle and Uceko. He will ride Voyeur, a mount that won him the 2014 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup, at the Olympics in Rio and is hopeful that his winning ways will continue at next month’s Games.
“I’m really excited about that,” he said. “Hopefully we can continue this form and have a little extra luck when we get there.”
Source: Noelle Floyd