Kent Farrington turned up the heat to defend his title in the $50,000 Ariat Congressional Cup Grand Prix on Saturday night. Riding Nerina, Farrington galloped the shortened course and stopped the clock clean in 34.10 seconds to capture the blue for the second consecutive year.
The Congressional Cup was the final night class held during the 2007 Capital Challenge Horse Show at the Prince Georges Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Md.
The field of 24 was narrowed to eight after facing a World Cup qualifying course designed by Anthony D’Ambrosio. The eight riders who returned for the jump-off faced a course that began with a broken first line option of a long five or a steady six strides. That was followed up with a tight left-hand rollback to a liverpool oxer and then a sweeping right rollback to a skinny.
That combination of jumps left the door open for riders to gallop and go, or to steady and ride a more conservative round. Farrington opted for the galloping approach.
He said, “She has a huge stride, so sometimes you don’t even have to think ‘go fast’ you can just allow her to get down the line by herself. I knew she would eat up the five.”
Farrington continued, “I let her look at the rollback to the liverpool once before I started. She really caught that on a good step and then I took a shot at the skinny, and she was really careful there and helped me out.”
The only two riders who gave Farrington a run for his money were Leslie Howard and Schuyler Riley.
Howard and Raimond W tackled the course just before Farrington and set the pace with a 37.81-second finish.
Farrington said, “Leslie’s horse is a little bit green, and it spends a lot of time in the air and it really hung up at the in-and-out. I think that really cost her some time. I used to work for Leslie, and she’s a tremendous competitor and a very fast rider so I think I beat her today on a more seasoned horse.”
Riley faced the shortened course on Lapacco and opted for the five strides down the first line but still couldn’t best Farrington’s time. Lapacco stopped the clock clean, but in a slower 35.27 seconds.
Nerina is a 12-year-old mare with European grand prix experience. She’s a seasoned mount for Farrington, but the pair has only been teamed up since this summer. Capital Challenge was Farrington’s first time riding Nerina indoors, but he was able to rely on the mare’s experience to win the class.
He said, “I’m sure she’s had a lot of indoor experience so that probably helped me out tonight.”
Farrington is pleased with the mare’s ability to step up and jump some bigger classes and give his other grand prix mount, Up Chiqui, a rest now and then. Up Chiqui has amassed 13 grand prix wins this year, and the Congressional Cup is Nerina’s second win of the season, giving Farrington a season total of a whopping 15 grand prix wins.
Farrington is looking forward to the rest of the indoor season and is picking and choosing which horse will compete in which show.