October 30, 2014--Kent Farrington, one of the most successful riders on tour throughout the 2014 show season, continued his winning ways on Thursday afternoon as the Open and International Jumpers got underway at the 131st National Horse Show in Lexington, Kentucky.
Riding the Amalaya Investments' Waomi, Farrington topped a large starting field of 51 in a one round speed class, racing home in 53 seconds flat to nail down the victory over a pair of Belgian riders, Nicola Philppaerts and Francois Mathy. Philippaerts, riding J'Espere Dream, clocked in just a whisper behind Farrington at 53.06 seconds. Meanwhile, Mathy piloted Ornellaia to a time of 54.56 seconds for today's third place finish.
Veteran Course Designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil, making his National Horse Show debut, created a 14 jump track with 12 numbered fences that saw 22 of the 51 starters go clean. Jorge was thrilled to be in Lexington and working at such an important and historic event. "One of the things I love most about our sport is the tradition, and I don't think you get more traditional than at the National Horse Show," he said. "I feel very honored to be part of it."
Jorge, who builds his grand prix course first and then works backwards towards opening day, talked about that process. "It is nice that for the main division we have a speed class, then we have a big jump-off class and then we have the grand prix. I am sure we are going to have a very strong group of riders. I think the first class will be a nice speed competition, but the technical part will be important. The speed class is of course not as hard as the jump-off class, but I am anticipating a good group, so it will not be all about speed. It's a table A speed class, so there is some riding and jumping involved as well," he explained.
Kent Farrington, who arrived in Lexington fresh off a major international win in the Grand Prix of Barcelona at the FEI Nations Cup Finals and the $40,000 Big Jump at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, talked about today's victory. "Waomi is naturally a fast horse, she anticipates the turns and it's easy to leave strides out going around the turns," he said. "I started off really aggressive leaving out a stride in the first line and that is probably where we scored the win."
He then spoke of his excellent summer of success. "It's really been a team effort. I have some great owners behind me, some really nice horses and a really great staff around me. It really comes down to putting yourself with the right people and getting the right horses underneath you," he smiled.
"The National Horse Show has always been a staple of the famous shows in the United States, so it's really exciting that they are making a big effort to make it special again," he continued. "I think having it at the Horse Park makes it one of the best indoors we have. The organizers have gone to great lengths to make it feel special."
Farrington continued the string of wins on horses borrowed from his student Meagan Nusz. In addition to the win on Naomi today, Farrington rode Nusz' Dynamo to victory in the Trump Grand Prix in Florida two years ago. "That's easy," he laughed. "You get your students nice horses and then it's easy to borrow them every now and again for a win."
Following the two riders from Belgium, who finished second and third, Beezie Madden of the United States took home fourth place honors with her always reliable partner Cortes C, a horse who always seems ready for whatever the task at hand might be. Today, forced to go early in the ninth spot in the order, their blazing trip of 55.16 seconds looked unbeatable at the time. As it turned out, some 43 horses later, they wound up just over two seconds too slow.
Lexington based Reed Kessler finished fifth with her own Ligist. They finished 6/10ths behind Madden in 55.77 seconds. Olivier Philippaerts, the other half of the Belgian brotherhood, took home sixth place honors with Carlito C in 55.93 seconds.
Rounding out the top eight were Shane Sweetnam and Kama Godek. Sweetnam piloted the Spy Coast Farm entry of Eregast Van't Kiezelhof to seventh and Godek was eighth on Air Force One.