Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 1, 2018 – The 2018 National Horse Show returned to the Kentucky Horse Park on Thursday with a series of upper-level show jumping competitions capped by the $135,000 International Jumper Classic CSI4*, attracting some of the best horses and athletes from the United States and beyond. Earning the largest share of the day’s purse as well as the Walter B. Devereux Memorial Challenge Trophy, Kent Farrington (USA) and Creedance captured the victory in the evening’s feature event, while Molly Ashe Cawley (USA) and Picobello Choppin PC also solidified themselves as one of the day’s champions by outrunning the pack in the $35,000 Palm Beach Masters Series International Open Jumpers Speed CSI4*.
With the class serving as a prerequisite to qualify for Saturday’s $250,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Lexington CSI4*-W, exhibitors in the $135,000 International Jumper Classic CSI4* were challenged to finish within the top 40 in order to earn a coveted slot in the show jumping grand finale of the week. Up against a sizable field of talented contenders and a challenging 15-effort track constructed by Ken Krome (USA), 13 pairs mastered the first course to gain eligibility into the jump-off, while four duos fell victim to a single time fault and a handful were knocked out of contention at the oxer-vertical in-and-out, the bogey fences of the evening.
Proving why he has previously held the title of best in the world based on the Longines Rankings, Farrington maneuvered 11-year-old Creedance, the horse he owns with R.C.G. Farm, to the first double-clean ride of the evening as third in the jump-off order-of-go, stopping the clock in 37.49 seconds to set the standard to beat for his peers that would follow. Georgina Bloomberg (USA), Peter Lutz (USA), Conor Swail (IRL), Beezie Madden (USA) and Sharn Wordley (NZL) all followed suit with subsequent double-clear trips, but none were quick-footed enough to overthrow the class leaders.
A familiar face in the winner’s circle, Farrington is a multi-time Olympian for the United States and has been successful on the world stage with mounts such as Voyeur, Uceko and Gazelle, in addition to Creedance, for a number of years. Farrington wore the world’s No. 1 armband from May 2017 until April 2018, only being overthrown from the top spot after a leg injury prevented him from competing. Since returning to the show ring, he has quickly returned to his winning ways, nabbing victories in Valkenswaard, Germany; Valence, France; Calgary, Canada; and Tryon, USA, among others.
Ultimately, Lutz and Robin De Ponthual, owned by Katherine Gallagher and Michael Meller, earned the reserve position with their double-clean time of 39.34 seconds, and Swail and Vanessa Mannix’s GK Coco Chanel clinched third place overall in 39.65 seconds.
Prior to Thursday’s feature event, the Alltech Arena welcomed 31 horses and athletes to vie for top honors in the $35,000 Palm Beach Masters Series International Open Jumpers Speed CSI4*. Operating under a faults-converted format, any downed rails added three penalties to the time to determine a final score for the round, meaning both speed and precision were imperative for a respectable tally. As one of the first to enter the ring, the ever-formidable Madden and Abigail Wexner’s Jiva set the pace with their quick trip in 56.51 seconds. Hot off their win in Thursday’s $35,000 Free x Rein International Jumper Welcome Speed CSI4*, Madden and Jiva looked to be the ones to beat as pair after pair failed to usurp them.
Nearing the end of the order, Katie Dinan (USA) and Tarioso Manciais, owned by Grant Road Partners, finally edged out the frontrunners, tripping the timers just a hair faster in 56.34 seconds to jump to the top spot, but their lead wouldn’t hold. As the reigning American Gold Cup winner of the $204,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ New York CSI4*-W with D’Arnita, Cawley’s reputation preceded her, and the veteran competitor did not disappoint. As one of the final five to take to the ring, Cawley and Louisburg Farm’s Picobello Choppin PC blazed around the Alltech Arena, carefully slicing across the track and leaving all of the rails up in a lightning fast final time of 54.20 seconds, more than two seconds ahead of the previous class leaders, to clinch the blue ribbon ahead of reserve finishers Dinan and Tarioso Manciais as well as Madden and Jiva.
The Alltech Arena also played host to the $10,000 Junior Jumpers and $10,000 Amateur-Owner Jumpers earlier in the day. In the junior contest, Isabella Bleu and her own Jahil led the way with a fault-free jump-off effort in 32.995 seconds to edge out the reserve finishers, Mimi Gochman and Gochman Sport Horse LLC’s Street Hassle BH, with their final time of 33.809 seconds. Not far off the pace, Paige Matthies and Barbara Smith’s Dirkie Z rounded out the top three with a clean jump-off ride in 35.023 seconds. Out of the field of amateur-owners, owner-rider Riley Newsome piloted Dakar VDL twice successfully, leaving all of the fences intact and breaking the beam in 39.783 seconds over the short course, just ahead of the time earned by the reserve champions, Addison Glerkink and Kadley Holdings LLC’s Erco Van T Roosakker, in 40.073 seconds. Haley Gassel and Quite Dark 2, owned by Westwind Equine Training Center, finished in the third position, riding to a clean and clear jump-off time of 40.791 seconds.
The 2018 National Horse Show will return Friday with more show jumping action in the form of the $35,000 Salamander Hotels & Resorts Accumulator Class CSI4*. Juniors and amateurs will take center stage Saturday afternoon in the $50,000 Hollow Brook Wealth Management Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur-Owner/Junior Jumper Grand Prix, and the premier jumper class of the week, the $250,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Lexington CSI4*-W, will take place Saturday evening. The daily live stream will resume Friday on EQSportsNet. Saturday night’s class will only be available to watch on FEI TV and FEI YouTube.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Kent Farrington – $135,000 International Jumper Classic CSI4* champion
On maintaining his lead in the jump-off:
“You’re never really sure when you have a big group of competitive riders, so it never feels fast enough. You just have to hope for the best and today we were lucky enough to get out of there with the win. I have a very fast horse and that makes a big difference. You can make a plan for him that you stick with, and it doesn’t really matter if there’s going to be five or 25, you can have confidence to stick to his round and it’s normally going to be pretty close.”
On riding the jump-off:
“I was always going to jump him, I found with experience with him that he’s actually better when I show him a little bit. If I hold out and I wait for a class, he’s typically not as good. If I compete a little bit, I’ve found that’s a better system for him to jump a big class.”
“He’s special. Special everything and he jumps special too, and that goes with the territory so I like him that way. In the warm-up, it’s almost easier if he is in a small space because there’s nowhere for him to go. He’s waiting for me to tell him what to do. That makes him very good inside because he’s naturally so fast. For me, he’s a modern show jumper. He’s fast and careful, and he can jump big. That’s everything I look for in a horse today.”
On coming back from his injury:
“I train pretty hard when I’m not on the horse. If I overdo it at the gym it will nag me a little bit the next day when I’m riding. I was really determined to come back in a hurry. I think it was twelve weeks from when I broke it to when I jumped the five star. For me it felt long, but they told me that’s pretty fast for that kind of injury. It was onto the next — got a little vacation and kept it moving. It’s part of the game. You do this or downhill skiing or anything else and you’re going to take some tumbles. If you ask any of these guys they can tell you a story where they’ve had a wreck here or there. You pick yourself back up and you keep going.”
On whether he hopes to participate at the 2019 World Cup Finals:
“I’m just going to play it by ear. It is still a long ways away. My older ones I think are kind of too old to do that and the younger ones, we will have to see if they are ready to do a whole final like that. I don’t know that I would ask Creedance to jump an entire final, maybe he could do a leg of it, but I think I would need another horse there to jump a leg of it, too, to really have a shot. Creedance is a fantastic horse and a great competitor but the World Cup Final is a lot of rounds and big jumping, and I don’t know that it would be fair to him to have him do that many big rounds. If he is really in unbelievable form then maybe I would consider it, but right now it is too early to say.”
Peter Lutz – $135,000 International Jumper Classic CSI4* reserve champion
On the course:
“It was a really nice course, there were a few oxers that were set close to the turn so I think that was challenging. Toward the end of the course there was a line set a little bit forward close to the corner, so I think that caught a few people.”
On whether he hopes to participate at the 2019 World Cup Finals:
“Yes, I am hoping to go. We brought Robin [de Ponthual] to Gothenberg last time and did really well there, we finished in the top 20. I think he could be really good there. We have some points from Columbus (The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Columbus CSI3*-W) and hopefully we will get some more this week.”
On his growth and relationship with Robin du Ponthual:
“We had a great summer with Robin at Spruce Meadows, and he has really been great there the last two years. I think he is a pretty special horse because he is equally as good in a venue like that as he is indoors. I’ve gotten to know him; I’ve been riding him for a few years so I know him quite well. I enjoy bringing him indoors now. This is his first week inside and he felt great.”