New York City—Sept. 22
Kent Farrington and Creedance may have come through the timers first in the jump-off for the U.S. Open $216,000 Grand Prix, but they weren’t the real winners of the day.
As Creedance galloped into the ring to accept the blue ribbon announcer John Kyle revealed that Farrington had pledged his winnings to help the victims of the recent hurricanes. The $71,280 first-place check will be donated to Direct Relief, a top-ranked charity that works to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty and emergencies. The organization currently has boots on the ground in hurricane-ravaged areas like Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and other islands throughout the Caribbean.
“I thought of it a while ago, after everything that happened in Florida,” said Farrington, who hails from Wellington, Fla. “I think there was sort of a reality check, with the initial panic of watching the hurricane and worrying about what was going to happen and feeling so unsure. My mom was in Florida and was very nervous. When it wasn’t as bad as we initially thought there was some relief, but at the same time we realized people in other areas weren’t that lucky, and it was a lot worse than they expected. There’s so much devastation and a lot of people that are really in need of some help.”
Farrington came up with the idea on his own, but he discussed it with everyone on his team who supported him 100 percent.
“I have a longstanding relationship with the owners of this horse [Lara Kelly and Summer Paulos of R.C.G. Farm]—almost 10 years. They owned Uceko, who was sort of my first horse to do big sport. I discussed it with them, and they really liked the idea. They also have homes and families in Florida and some places that were really hit.”
Nine riders representing five countries qualified for Guilherme Jorge’s short course. Kristen VanderVeen logged the first clear on the speedy Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili. Lucy Deslauriers and Hester kept the rails up but couldn’t quite catch VanderVeen to finish an eventual fourth.
Hardin Towell went for broke on yesterday’s winner, Lucifer V, which nearly took the day, until Farrington and the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Lord Z—Camantha) came into the ring.
“I watch Hardin ride a lot,” said Farrington, whose sister Kim lives in New York City. “He’s in Europe competing a lot, and he’s very competitive and fast. I didn’t get to see him ride, but they told me that he had a very quick round. With this horse I try to have my own plan; I have to play to his strengths. I have to make it up early in the course because if we get running at the end we can have the last one down.”
That strategy paid off, slicing just over .1 second off his friend’s time to finish on top. When Shane Sweetnam and Indra Van De Oude Heihoef ticked a rail Creedance took blue. Towell and Lucifer V claimed second, with VanderVeen taking the third place ribbon.
Towell has been riding a hot streak since he and Lucifer V arrived in Central Park. Their victory in yesterday’s U.S. Open $40,000 CSX FEI Speed Class proved to be a good warm up for the feature class of the Rolex Central Park Horse Show, where once again it came down to footspeed.
Towell’s second-place ribbon in today’s class combined with their previous victory gave him enough points to clinch the leading rider title.
“My horse’s strength is long gallops,” said Towell. “Last year I gave this class away because I tried to be too quick to the Rolex double, so I told myself I would take a little more time. I know [Farrington’s] horse quite well too. I knew he would take it easy to the last and not be quite as quick. But tonight was his night.”
While many riders, like Farrington, elected not to go fast in the speed round in order to save their horses for the big class, Towell felt that strategy worked to his horse’s advantage.
“My horse is a very competitive horse,” said Towell. “Luckily he’s a horse who can be quick one day and come back. It takes a particular type of horse can compete against the clock, and it doesn’t seem to phase him. That helped me make my plan, and then he jumped well again today.”
Third-placed pair VanderVeen and Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili were happy to advance to the jump-off of this class for the second year in a row, but disappointed she held back.
“I also had a quick round yesterday,” said VanderVeen, who finished third. “Sometimes it’s hard to do a quick round and come back the next day. My plan in the jump-off was to be a little conservative and not rush him too much. I paid the penalty for it.”
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