Rome, Italy—May 21
U.S. rider Kent Farrington was in flying form when topping the first two international competitions at CSIO Rome Piazza di Siena on May 21, but it was Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya who galloped to victory in the feature event of the day, the qualifier for Sunday’s Loro Piana Grand Prix of Rome.
Farrington recorded his first success in a 1.45-meter two-round class with the 10-year-old mare Cha Cha Cha. “She’s a very fast horse, but I had to try harder than I expected because this is a top show with top riders, and this man set a super target so that put plenty of pressure on!” said the 39-year-old rider, referring to the challenge presented by runner-up, Ireland’s Alex Duffy who was standing by his side.
Kent Farrington on Cha Cha Cha. Photo by CSIO Roma/Proli
From a sharp starting field of 62 horse-and-rider combinations, 31 went clear in Round 1 and there were still 13 left to run when Farrington set off, chasing Duffy’s time of 26.76 seconds set with the 12-year-old gelding Wrangler ll. The American shaved 0.17 seconds off that to stop the clock on 26.59 seconds, adding yet another speed success to his recent list of wins that includes a hat-trick posted at the Global Champions Tour in Shanghai earlier this month.
Farrington, who is joined by his mother and sister in Rome, talked about the fact that his country will not be represented in tomorrow’s Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ presented by Longines.
“It’s difficult for us the way the Nations Cup format has changed; we can only do so many funded shows abroad. Of course it would be nice to send a team here but instead I’ve come alone. I’ve picked a couple of shows in Europe [to do] and I’m very happy to be here in Rome,” said the rider who will travel next week to Aachen, Germany before flying to Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta.
Last-minute dash for Duffy
Duffy, meanwhile, made a last-minute dash to Rome after receiving a late-night phone-call from Irish Chef d’Equipe, Robert Splaine on Monday night. He set off on the 1,500-kilometer journey with his truck and two horses yesterday morning, arriving just in time for the veterinary inspection.
The 25-year-old rider, who was previously based with Carl and Cameron Hanley, moved recently to work with Irish showjumping sensation Bertram Allen who finished third at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Final in Las Vegas last month. “I moved to Bertram’s to begin to establish my own business as well as riding some of Bertram’s younger horses while he is away at bigger shows,” Duffy explained.
Wrangler ll is owned by Allen’s Ballywalter Farms, and Duffy said, “I’ve had a great run with him; we were placed in every class we competed in at Drammen [Norway] and finished fourth in the grand prix there last week. Bertram had a win with him at Hickstead last year and also won one of the classes at the test event in Caen [France] before the World Equestrian Games last summer.”
Best Italian in this class was Emilio Bicocchi with Hialoubet Vassago, a 15-year-old gelding by Baloubet du Rouet who was last year’s winner of this opening competition for the same rider. “I’m happy to start in such a positive way, and there’s a great sense of optimism in the Italian camp here this week. I’m delighted with how my horse went, the class was very fast and I didn’t want to ask too much with him today so I’m happy with my result,” he said.
A Man With A Plan
It seemed the home crowd might have plenty to shout about in the 1.50-meter jump-off class that followed when Luca Moneta set a brilliant pathfinding target of 35.87 seconds when first against the clock with Quova de Vains.
But Farrington proved untouchable again when, third to go with Waomi, he breezed home in 35.75 seconds to clinch it.
Asked afterwards about his gift for finding places on the course where he can save those ever-so-valuable fractions of seconds, the American rider just shrugged his shoulders and smiled, saying: “I always have a plan, even if I can’t exactly stick to it—I always try to do what suits the individual horse, to play to their strengths so they finish feeling good about themselves. That roll-back to the vertical before the double at the end worked out really well for us today.” he added.
Moneta never seems disappointed, no matter what his result. Typically upbeat, he talked afterwards about the brilliance of course designer Uliano Vezzani whose tracks are already receiving plenty of praise. “He’s the best in the world!” Moneta said today. “I really like the way he thinks because he makes the horses so full of confidence even if they don’t always jump clear. The quality of the horses and riders in the sport today makes it very difficult for the course builders, they have to keep finding new ways to get the result, but without punishing the horses,” he pointed out.
Moneta has built up a massive fan club over the last few years due to his cheery personality and his unique relationship with his horses along with his success. “I think what people can feel is that I have a lot of fun when I am competing. I’m always happy no matter how it goes, it’s nice to win, but for me it’s just as nice to compete and to be with my horses,” he explained.
Moya Wins Grand Prix Qualifier
It was down to the serious business in this afternoon’s qualifier for Sunday’s Loro Piana Grand Prix of Rome in which Sergio Alvarez Moya set an early target with G & C Quitador Rochelais and couldn’t be caught. U.S. rider Laura Kraut was third in the class on Deauvelle S and Farrington was tied for sixth aboard Gazelle.
Sergio Alvarez Moya with G & C Quitador Rochelais. Photo by CSIO Roma/Proli
The Spanish rider has been showing great recent form with this 11-year-old gelding, and racked up a fifth place against tough competition at La Baule last week. Today his time of 64.90 seconds was too good for the rest, but runner-up, Belgium’s Francois Mathy Jr, was only 0.8 seconds behind partnering Team Harmony’s 12-year-old mare Polinska Des Isles while Kraut steered the promising 9-year-old, Deauville, into third ahead of Ireland’s Billy Twomey and the veteran Tinka’s Serenade who is twice the age of Kraut’s gelding.
In fifth place was Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca with the 9-year-old Gangster de Longchamps which he competes for Stephex Stables. Talking about his move from Neil Jones’ yard to join the Stephex barn in Belgium, de Luca said, “I started with Stephen at Christmas, I already had horses from him for more than two years and after Eiken Sato moved back to Japan he offered me a great opportunity to work with him so I planned to do that at the end of 2014.”
He’s really looking forward to tomorrow afternoon’s Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ presented by Longines for which there is change in the line-up of the Italian team, with Guilia Martinengo stepping in for Natale Chiaudani who is suffering from a back problem. Martinengo is delighted to step into the breach with the 10-year-old mare Fixdesign Funke van’t Heike and de Luca said this evening, “Giulia is coming into the team from a great run of form with this mare. She was Italian champion last years with this horse and it’s great to have her in the team along with Daniele [Augusto da Rios] and Piergiorgio [Bucci].
Asked if he and team were feeling under a lot of pressure, on home ground and following their fantastic victory at the opening leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ series in Belgium a few weeks ago he replied: “After the win everyone expects a lot from us here in Rome but for me this is just great stimulation and motivation for tomorrow’s competition!”