Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 13
It was déjà vu for Kent Farrington and Blue Angel, who scored their second victory in as many days tonight. This time they topped the $84,000 Salamander Resort and Spa Valentine’s Day Grand Prix.
With hunters taking over the International Ring at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival for the World Champion Hunter Rider week, top jumper competition moved across the street to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center Stadium, where Robin Parsky’s mare (Luidam—Astrid, Ascendant) topped an eight-horse jump-off.
Farrington’s earned a reputation for riding with blazing speed, and he showed that off yesterday by winning the Table A speed class, and again tonight with an unbeatable jump-off.
“I knew it was going to be mission impossible to catch the magic Kent,” said Cian O’Connor, who went for it in the jump-off on Carolus Z but still finished more 2.5 seconds behind Farrington to take second.
Benjamin Meredith, competing in his first major grand prix at WEF, filled in aboard Bernadien van Westuur for student Haley Schaufeld to take third.
“I thought I got a couple lucky rubs in the first round,” admitted Farrington, Wellington, Fla. “I thought she came out for the jump-off and upped her game and jumped much better. She was back on form and felt more like herself in the jump-off.
“She’s a very competitive horse,” he continued. “She’s had a lot of experience and we’ve gotten to know each other very well, so she’s looking for the fences now off the corner. The more I ride her we know each other’s moves and she knows what to expect.”
O’Connor wasn’t too disappointed to finish second behind Farrington. After all, he just paired up with Carolus Z last fall, and this is their first grand prix placing together. Henri Kovacs previously campaigned the Zangersheide (Canabis Z—Quillana Ster, Toulon).
“He’s a big horse, and it’s a lot to pull together,” he said of the 11-year-old. “Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.”
But Meredith was definitely the happiest person in the awards ceremony. When Schaufeld had to travel north for a funeral, he decided to take the Belgian mare for a spin.
“She han’t jumped this big for a while,” said Meredith, who rides for Australia but operates BJM Show Stables out of River Farm in Leesburg, Va. “Halfway through the first round she was jumping a little too high, then she was like ‘oh yeah right, I remember’ then it was fine.”
That mare competed internationally with Jillian Terceira for Bermuda before amateur rider Schaufeld got the ride.
Looking Toward Nations Cup Week
O’Connor's already looking ahead toward the Wellington CSIO, where Irish Chef d’Equipe Robert Splaine has slotted him to compete for the flag aboard another newer ride, Quidam’s Cherie.
Farrington’s name was conspicuously absent from the list of combinations set to ride for Team USA. He said Chef d'Equipe Robert Ridland did ask him to compete, but the class didn’t jibe with his horse's schedule.
“I try to do what’s best for my horses, and if they really needed me to do it, I’ll adjust,” he said. “It’s a strong team, and I’ve jumped in that Nations Cup I don’t know how many times, I’ve done it almost every time. I think we have enough good riders and good horses. It’s good that some other people can do it if it works for them.”
Want More WEF?
Catch up on yesterday’s grand prix action here, and don’t miss the incredible photos of Beezie Madden showing off her stickability.