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Farrington walks off from CHI Geneva as the winner of the CHF 1,200,000 Rolex Grand Prix

Sunday, 10 December 2017
CHI Geneva 2017

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Kent Farrington's personal Rolex Grand Slam has started: The next leg will be in Den Bosch in March. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

It’s been a fantastic year for world no. one Kent Farrington, who concluded 2017 in the best possible way when winning Sunday’s thrilling Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva worth 1,200,000 CHF.

A part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva is one of four Majors – in addition comes CHIO Aachen, CSIO Spruce Meadows and the Dutch Masters in ’s-Hertongenbosch – with the series offering over five million Euros in prize money and some huge bonuses.

Forty of the best horse-and-rider combinations in the world lined up for the challenge in Geneva after qualifying in over the last four days of competition. The 1.60m course set by Gérard Lachat (SUI) and Louis Konickx (NED) counted 13 obstacles and 17 efforts in the first round, and proved to be more than tricky enough – faults spread out but many experienced agonising faults on the line from fence five to six and in the last double of uprights where the horses really had to back off at the very end of the course. After the first four pairs had finished their rounds, the time allowed was altered to 63 seconds. In the end, only five pairs cleared the difficult track and joined the jump-off over a shortened, eight-fence track. 

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Henrik von Eckermann with Mary Lou 194 took the second place. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

First to go in the jump-off was the European silver medallist Harrie Smolders (NED) on the 13-year-old stallion Don VHP Z (Diamant de Semilly x Voltaire). The pair did a flawless round in a time of 46,89 seconds, setting the standard for the rest to follow as the big striding stallion ate up the ground in the Palexpo Arena.

Second to go was Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) on the 11-year-old mare Mary Lou (Montendro x Portland L) – the pair that ended third in the Longines FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha early this year and has gone steadily in the World Cups this season. Cantering efficiently in the huge ring but not taking too much risk, the pair took over the lead with a time of 45,49 seconds.

Gregory Wathelet (BEL) on the 11-year-old mare Coree (Cornet Obolensky x Liberty Life) – winners of the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen this summer – were next up. Leaving all fences intact, the pair stopped the clocks at 45,69 seconds, staying behind von Eckermann.

But then came the current world no. one Kent Farrington (USA). Riding the 11-year-old mare Gazelle (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Indoctro), Kent once again proved just why he is ruling the ranks, taking the lead with a time of 44,96 seconds after a lightning fast round. When the last to go Cian O’Connor (IRL) on the 12-year-old gelding Fibonacci (For Feeling x Corland) had one fence down in a time of 48,88 seconds, Farrington could celebrate his first ever Rolex Major win. 

Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Third place went to Gregory Wathelet and Coree. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

“I am still a little bit shocked really,” Kent smiled after the prize giving. “I have been trying to win this for a long time and have been thinking about it all week,” he continued. “I am still waiting for it to sink in that I won. My horse was great today and I will definitely be in Holland for the Dutch Masters in March,” he said about his plans on trying to win another Rolex Major.

Second placed Henrik von Eckermann was satisfied with being the runner-up. “I knew I had Kent on my heels,” he smiled. “I think I lost it at the last fence, but I am very happy to be second today.  Kent was the best today and I think no matter what I would have done, I would not have been able to be faster than him. He deserved the win - he has been trying for a long time.”

Third placed Gregory Wathelet complimented his fellow riders. “These two are amazing riders and I have no problem being third behind them,” he said. “I did not get my first distance in a few places. I knew Henrik was really quick and with Kent behind, I knew it would be difficult. My horse tried her best and I am very happy with her,” he concluded. 

Farrington is now in the run for the Grand Slam bonus of 1 million Euros, should he manage to win three Majors in a row. If he then wins also the fourth event, Farrington will receive another 1 million Euro bonus. For anyone winning two of the four Majors, there is also a bonus; for two wins in succession 500,000 Euros, for two wins not in succession 250,000 Euros. It is safe to say, that Farrington will do his best to succeed Scott Brash (GBR) – the only rider to win the Grand Slam bonus so far.

The Rolex Grand Slam now moves to the Netherlands and The Dutch Masters in ’s-Hertogenbosch, that takes place from 8th to 11th March 2018. 


Text and pictures © World of Showjumping 

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