Calgary, CA – June 9, 2012 - - The Americans continued their reign over the Spruce Meadows International Ring on Saturday afternoon, as Kent Farrington out-bested the best in the $200,000 CN Reliability Grand Prix World Cup Qualifier – the first leg of the CN Precision Series.
The tough jumping course, designed by Guilherme Jorge, took no prisoners, with only five of the 33-horse field posting clean first rounds. In the end, it was Farrington, aboard his fiery partner Uceko, who outgunned the rest and crossed the timers for a clean, 38.97-second, jump-off round. He took home a generous $66,000 for his trouble.
“I felt I’d gone very fast in the beginning and I wanted to have an option at the end that if I felt under the base I could (add a stride),” said the Olympic hopeful about his speedy jump-off round.
All that galloping at the start of the round wasn’t wasted, as Farrington said Uceko slipped a bit coming into the vertical of the final line in the second round. But the added stride didn’t cost them their victory.
The duo, who are based out of Wellington, Fla., were ranked ninth on the Olympic long list following the U.S.E.T. Selection Trials this past spring. While this win will most likely count in their favor, it is their performances in next week’s observation events that will make a bigger impact. And Farrington said he’s ready for them.
“My horse feels great – he loves it here,” said Farrington. “He’s a big jumper and a field like (the ones at Spruce Meadows) really suits him…. But we’ll see what happens.”
Despite a valiant effort to be the one to beat, Eric Lamaze took home the second-place prize. Riding Derly Chin de Muze, the Canadian favorite left all the rails standing and made it to the finish line in 39.23 seconds – just fractions of a second behind the winners.
“I didn’t want to completely give it to him,” said Lamaze, as he aimed a sly smile at Farrington. “But I knew the timing would absolutely be caught. But, the rails still have to stay up in the cups – you never know what could happen.
“I went what I thought was a competitive speed for my horse at this time, without taking any more risks than I had to.”
The only other pairing to post a double clean ride in the class, Ireland’s Darragh Kerins landed a third-place finish with his mount, Lisona. First in to the jump-off round, the New York-based rider and the 11-year-old mare chalked up a solid time of 44.74 seconds.
“She jumped the 1.50m on Wednesday, and felt great,” said the soft-spoken Irishman. “So, I took a chance and left her for the grand prix. It all worked out.”
Richard Spooner, of Aqua Dulce, CA., landed in fourth position with Cristallo after hitting a single rail in the second round. Fifth place went to another Irish rider, Richie Moloney, who racked up eight faults with Ahorn Van de Zuuthoeve.
The fastest of the four-fault rounds was Beezie Madden with Cortes C, who ended the class in sixth place. Robert Whitaker and USA Today took home seventh place honors, while Leslie Howard landed in eighth position with Utah. Ranked ninth was yet another Irish rider, the Idaho-based Jennifer Crooks, with SF Uryadi. And Kirsten Coe finished in tenth spot with Combina.
And it was Mario Deslauriers who kicked off Saturday’s competition for the Americans, laying claim to the $60,000 TransCanada Parcours de Chasse 1.45m with Whistler.
The Dutch warmblood and the rider from New York blew the rest of the 24-horse field out of the water, winning the event in 88.88 seconds.
Held over a single round, the Parcours de Chasse challenged competitors to tackle 17 jumping elements within the time of 180 seconds. Additional seconds are added to the tally in lieu of faults in the event of a fallen rail. Brazil’s Jorge also built this tricky speed track.
But there were no fallen rails for the veteran rider and the 10-year-old gelding. Even the damp weather couldn’t throw a wrench in the duo’s plans, which was to attack the course as efficiently as possible.
“This course had a lot of galloping, and this horse has such a big stride,” said Deslauriers. “I just tried to keep my lines very straight between fences and kept (my path) very direct.
“I’ve had this horse now for two or three years, and he jumps all of these obstacles great – so you can really take chances. It worked out well.”
Nipping at the heels of the winners was Colombia’s Daniel Bluman with Vichy. The last pairing to tackle the fast course, the young rider and the chestnut mare actually beat the quick time set by Deslauriers, but had an unfortunate knock down towards the end of the course. In the end, the duo finished the event in 89.55 seconds.
Third place went to Yann Candele of Canada with the 12-year-old gelding, Game Ready. Leaving all the obstacles solidly in their cups, the horse and rider team racked up a time of 90.58 seconds.
Rodrigo Lambre landed in fourth position with his speedy round aboard Chepepe La Escondida, and Ireland’s Kerins finished in fifth place with the Argentine gelding, Hot Wheels.
The first leg of the Spruce Meadows Summer Series, the National tournament, wraps up Sunday afternoon with the running of the $175,000 Nexen Cup Derby 1.60m.
Will last year’s winners, Leslie Howard and Lennox Lewis 2, be able to defend their title?
Kent Farrington and Uceko
Kent pounds the CN spike
Mario Deslauriers and Whistler
Mario Deslauriers - TransCanada Parcours de Chasse trophy
Robert Whitaker and USA Today
Leslie Howard with Utah
Jennifer Crooks and SF Uryadi
Kristin Coe and Combina
Yann Candele and Game Ready
Rodrigo Lambre with Chepepe La Excondida
Darragh Kernis and Hot Wheels
Andres Rodgiguez and Remonta Eden
Leslie Howard and Lennox Lewis 2
Beda Watcher with Voilastar