Monday, Jun. 10, 2024

Video: Farrington Comes Back To Pip Cook In La Baule Grand Prix

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Don’t call it a comeback. Actually, go right ahead.

Two days after being eliminated in the first round of the Nations Cup at the La Baule CSIO5* (France) and withdrawing from the second round, Kent Farrington won the Rolex Grand Prix Ville de La Baule on Sunday, just nipping U.S. teammate Karl Cook, who finished second by 0.12 seconds. Belgium’s Gregory Wathalet was third.

Jumping courses designed by Gregory Bodo, who will design the Paris Olympic Games courses with Spain’s Santiago Varela, 11 horses from a field packed with Olympic contenders advanced from the first round to the jump-off.

Kent Farrington thanks Greya after the pair won the $540,000 Rolex Grand Prix Ville de la Baule (France) on June 9. PSV Photo Photograph

Second to go in the jump-off on Caracole De La Roque, the mare with whom he won the Rolex Grand Prix of Rome two weeks ago, Cook flew around the course to stop the clocks in 34.21 seconds. With the Olympic Games so close at hand, many riders decided to play it safe. Not Farrington. Aboard Greya, a 10-year-old Oldenburg mare (Colestus—Contessa 128, Contender) owned by Kent Farrington LLC, he shaved just enough time to take the title, crossing the finish in 34.09 seconds.

“I was very determined for the jump-off, of course, but to be honest, I always am,” Farrington said.

Watch their winning jump-off round, courtesy of ClipMyHorse.tv:

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“Greya is a mare I’ve been riding since she was 4 or 5 years old, who went to Europe but then came back to my country when she was 6 years old,” Farrington said. “She’s kind of my favorite. I have really taken my time to develop an understanding with her. 

“I’m enjoying good results at the moment, but in our sport that can all change very quickly,” he added. “You can go from hero to zero in the blink of an eye, but also from zero to hero. That’s life. I just try to remain focused on my job.”

Two days earlier, in Friday’s Nations Cup competition, Farrington, 43, Wellington, Florida, had two stops in the first round aboard Landon and elected to withdraw the gelding before the second round. With no drop score, the team went on to finish sixth in the competition. 

“It’s important to remember why we’re here, which is for observation and selection, and to see everyone and different groups, which is a part of our overall strategy and the long game here,” U.S. Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland said after Friday’s competition. “It was obviously not the result we wanted as the outcome, but we were in the lead after the first round, and we know all of our combinations are capable of jumping clear rounds. We’re only half-way through the show and the grand prix is still just as important for us, so everyone is ready to look ahead to Sunday.”

On Sunday, not only did Farrington deliver with his second mount, but so did Cook. Cook, who rode Signe Ostby’s 12-year-old Selle Français mare (Zandor—Pocahantas D’Amaury, Kannan) in both classes, on Friday jumped clean in the first round and had 4 faults in the second, then returned with a faultless grand prix performance Sunday.

“When I finished, I knew I’d been quick, but I was also aware that we could have been a little bit quicker at some points,” Cook, 33, Rancho Santa Fe, California, said. “In any case, with the riders and horses coming after me, it was all to play for. I just hoped I had put enough pressure on them to force them into making mistakes. Unfortunately for me, Kent was quicker. That said, I’m still very happy with this second place. My coach Eric Navet told me a lot about La Baule and all the memories he has of the place. It was important to do well for him too.As for the Olympic Games, for the moment, I’m just trying to produce clear rounds and we’ll see what happens.”

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Watch Cook’s second-place jump-off round, courtesy of ClipMyHorse.tv:

Wathalet took third aboard Bond Jamesbond De Hay, but 3 seconds slower than Cook. 

“I’m delighted with third place,” he said. “To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t possible to equal Kent and Karl’s times, all the more since the jump-off didn’t suit the characteristics of my horse. The Olympics are just two months away and it was important to not do something silly.”

With the victory, Farrington becomes only the second U.S. rider to win the Rolex Grand Prix Ville de la Baule, joining McLain Ward, who won with Sapphire in 2010. 

See complete results here.

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