“This is the one I’ve been aiming to win for years,” said Kent Farrington after topping the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHI Geneva aboard Gazelle. “I came close a couple of times and I am so happy at having won here in Geneva today. My horse jumped incredibly and the crowd was amazing, really supportive.
“I am overjoyed, but to be honest I am still in a state of shock. I have been trying to win this grand prix for so long,” Farrington said. “Now that I have finally done it, I find it hard to believe that it really is all over and that I left the show as the winner. It has brought the year to a fantastic close for me!”
The 36-year-old can now take on the ultimate challenge in equestrian sport, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping: The rider who wins three majors in succession goes down in history as a Grand Slam Champion and picks up a bonus of one million Euros. “That’s a tall order and I am going to try my best,” said Farrington with a view to the coming Grand Slam legs. The journey continues for him in March at The Dutch Masters at s’Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands on March 8-11, when he will strive to claim his second major victory in a row. If he triumphs there as well, he would be riding to take the Grand Slam title in July at the CHIO Aachen in Germany.
Philipp Weishaupt competed in Geneva as the current Grand Slam contender. Riding Asathir, the German show jumper unfortunately did not reach the jump-off of the Rolex Grand Prix.
It wasn’t until the 13th on course, Pedro Veniss and his brilliant Quabri De l’Isle, before a first clean jumping round appeared on the scoreboard. Unfortunately, the defending champion was not able to stay within the time allowed, and that meant for the Brazilian no qualification for the jump-off. Laura Kraut had the same mistake, picking up 1 time fault in Round 1.
Despite the high level of the riders and the quality of their horses, it had to be awaited more than half of the starting field before the first clear round was performed, achieved by Harrie Smolders in the saddle of his brilliant Don VHP. Shortly thereafter followed Henrik von Eckermann (Mary Lou 194) and Gregory Wathelet on Corée, the winning pair of the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen this year. For the many spectators who had come to the sold-out Palexpo to witness this great spectacle, a high-profile jump-off was apparent.
At the end of the first round, the winner of the Credit Suisse Grand Prix on Friday, Kent Farrington, as well as the European team champion Cian O’Connor also qualified. A jump-off with five riders, and all of them famous ones.
Smolders, starting in first to the jump-off, did not take all the risks, and was immediately beaten by next to go, von Eckermann. The Belgian Wathelet finished the barrage two tenths of a second behind the Swede. Next came the world No. 1, Farrington. The American is known as always very fast, no matter which horse he rides. With Gazelle he showed once again that he knew how to master the art of combining performance and speed. Farrington benefited from a mistake of Cian O’Connor and “finally” won the Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva, having won almost every other main competition at Geneva in recent years at least once.
“I have jumped this class here many times and it is always very difficult,” said Farrington. “You compete against the top riders and the best horses in the world. The course is always very demanding and the time is tight. When I watched the first pair in the ring, I realized straightaway that it was going to be particularly hard this year. It really was a tough competition and that makes the victory even more valuable for me.”
Earlier in the week, on Dec. 7, Farrington topped the Credit Suisse Grand Prix riding Voyeur—his third win in that class at the Geneva show over the year.
Farrington plans to spend the rest of the year in Florida, where he’ll celebrate Christmas with his team. “We will certainly celebrate my major victory there too,” he said. “I have a wonderful team behind me—this victory wouldn’t have been possible without them. I will probably stay in Florida for the whole of the winter and then come back to Europe for the Dutch Masters. It will be a very tough job to win the grand prix there too, but I love challenges.”