Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 6, 2020 – Back for its fifth installment during the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) circuit, the $137,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round V CSI5* brought 52 of the most elite partnerships in Wellington to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s International Arena for a shot at the top prize. Taking home their second WEF Challenge Cup win of the season, it was Kent Farrington (USA) with Austria 2 who captured the top spot on the leaderboard by less than half of a second to claim first place.
Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) challenged horse and riders with a 16-obstacle course strategically placed around the expansive arena to suit the CSI5* status of the class. First in the order of go, Alexandra Thornton (GBR) and Cornetto K jumped to the occasion, leading the field with a fault-free round and securing a spot in the jumpoff. Following suit, five more combinations managed the course without penalty heading into the midway point of the first round. After the break, 14 more duos left the course intact and added their names to the lengthy list for the jump-off.
Trimmed down to 8 obstacles, over a third of riders from the first round returned for the short course with Alex Granato (USA) and Thornton electing to save their horses. Given a time-allowed of 52 seconds, 17 remaining combinations representing seven countries raced around the pattern that included one new obstacle and a long gallop to the final jump.
First to return for the tiebreaker, Capt. Brian Cournane (IRL) in the saddle on Penelope Cruz set the pace with a clear round in 43.155 seconds. Seven more duos laid down stellar efforts with quick, clear rounds, but ultimately it was Kent Farrington (USA) aboard Austria 2, owned by Take the High Road, LLC, who conquered the field, covering the course in just 40.688 seconds.
Less than a second behind Farrrington was Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) aboard Just A Gamble, owned by Starlight Farms 1, LLC, who claimed second place with a short course time of 40.988 seconds. Rounding out the top three was Canadian rider Eric Lamaze with Chacco Kid, owned by Chacco Kid Group, clocking in at 41.566 seconds.
Kent Farrington found himself in the winner’s circle during the $37,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round II earlier in the season aboard a different mount, Kaprice. Farrington began riding Austria 2, a 12-year-old Holsteiner mare, in the spring of last year. In December, the pair took home first place in the 19th edition of the Rolex IJRC Top Ten Final in Geneva.
Jumping competition will continue at WEF throughout the weekend, with the highlight event, the $401,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI5*, taking place at 7 p.m. Saturday, February 8.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Kent Farrington – $137,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round V CSI5* winner
On Austria 2:
“Obviously, I am thrilled with the round, thrilled with the result. Austria has been a great horse. I started riding her in the spring last year. I did a couple small shows, brought her to Calgary, started in the 1.30m, and ended up jumping 1.50m and then went from there. Moved her up again in the summer, she jumped a couple 5* grand prix classes, and she finished the year winning the World’s Top 10 Final in Geneva, which was another huge class. I couldn’t be happier with the horse. This was her first big class this season, and she looks to be in top form, so I am really excited about her. [Austria 2] is a super light, Thoroughbred-type horse, and that is my favorite type of horse. It is what I am always drawn to. She’s super careful, naturally quick, and is a modern showjumper.”
On how he acquired Austria 2:
“Karen [Dwight] and Glenn [Fleischer,], actually, my neighbors in Palm Beach Point. We ride on the canals, and it was around Christmas time one time, and I said, ‘Oh Merry Christmas! I keep asking Santa if I can ride Austria. It hasn’t happened yet, but I am hoping!’ And then after that season, they said, ‘hey, would you like to ride Austria?’ Alright, Santa came through!”
On his plans with Austria 2:
“Just keep doing what we are doing. Stay on that course and see where she goes. The horse is already a great winner. I think she’s going to be a great grand prix horse, and what she can do beyond there only time will tell. So I don’t really feel a limit on the horse. She’s got an unbelievable mentality, and that goes a long way. A horse that really wants to fight for you is a huge part of the battle of doing high-level sport.
I was kind of being funny talking about riding the horse, but I really had no idea what it could actually do, you know? I thought it could be a great winner at whatever level she decided to jump. I wasn’t sure if that was going to be 1.50m, 1.55m, I mean she’s done the 1.60m. Whether she wants to do that all the time or whether she moves up and down, I think, regardless, it’s a great horse, and I feel very fortunate.”
On his plan for the jump-off:
“I actually thought [from fence] one to two she didn’t turn as well as I had hoped. I came to one with a little too much speed and turned short, so I got a little off my line. I did one extra [stride] to number two, so I kind of doubled down on my bet, and I went super short on my next oxer because I knew otherwise I would be too slow. Ideally, for perfect, I think I could have done one to two a little bit better, and then I could have a smoother turn to number three, but she is so fast and a fighter. You can do that with horses like her. I thought I was a little bit behind one to two, and I could turn it up and still catch the class.”
$134,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round V CSI5*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Kent Farrington / Austria 2 / USA / Take the High Road, LLC / 0 | 74.29 / 0 | 40.688
2. Adrienne Stenlight / Just A Gamble / GBR / Starlight Farms 1, LLC / 0 | 75.15 / 0 | 40.988
3. Eric Lamaze / Chacco Kid / CAN / Chacco Kid Group / 0 | 73.93 / 0 | 41.566
4. Karl Cook / Caillou 24 / USA / Helen Signe Ostby / 0 | 77.23 / 0 | 41.703
5. Capt. Brian Cournane / Penelope Cruz / IRL / MM Robert Stiller, Capt. Brian Courname / 0 | 77.62 / 0 | 43.155
6. Zoe Conter / Davidoff De Lassus / BEL / Stephex Stables / 0 | 76.32 / 0 | 43.281
7. Daniel Coyle / Farrel / IRL / Ariel Grange / 0 | 77.89 / 0 | 43.884
8. Dani G. Waldman / Queensland E / ISR / Israeli Equestrian Group / 0 | 76.45 / 0 | 45.487
9. McLain Ward / Catoki / USA / Marilla Van Beuren Bob Russel, McLain Ward / 0 | 73.77 / 4 | 38.846
10. Todd Minikus / Amex Z / USA / Bit by Bit Group / 0 | 74.75 / 4 | 41.922
11. Sergio Alvarez Moya / Charmeur / ESP / Sergio Alvarez Moya / 0 | 74.28 / 4 | 42.407
12. Daniel Bluman / Entano / ISR / Over the Top Stables, LLC / 0 | 75.79 / 4 | 42.59