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World no. one Kent Farrington: ”To be able to adapt and to evolve, that is a sign of a champion”

Friday, 05 May 2017
Interview

Photo (c) Royal Windsor Horse Show. Kent Farrington with Creedance. Photo (c) Royal Windsor Horse Show.

Ahead of the CSI5* Royal Windsor Horse Show next week, World of Showjumping got to chat with the new number one on the world ranking: Kent Farrington (USA). Returning to defend his Grand Prix victory from last year, Kent is looking forward to the event at Windsor. ”I went to Windsor for the first time last year. I have always liked England, and I think Windsor was one of the best shows last year. The crowds were amazing, and the Queen was there and I got to meet her. Also, my family came to watch – it will be hard to top that! This year I will be bringing two horses; Sure Can, that won at CSI5* Antwerp on the first day and Dublin, who’s been doing good during the Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida.”

Even though Kent was qualified to ride this year's Longines FEI World Cup Final on home turf in Omaha, Nebraska, he chose not to attend. ”I felt like I didn’t have a horse that was ready to win there. The World Cup Final is a hard competition, and the last rounds can get very big. Even if Creedance did good throughout the season, I still thought he didn’t have the necessary mileage. I don’t want to scare him, and I was worried about taking away his confidence. My older horses might have the mileage, but I felt it was also not fair to them. I rather aim them for to outdoor venues and keep them sound a little longer. McLain is a good friend of mine and a tremendous competitor. For it all to come together for him in Omaha - I was thrilled for him.”

For a long time, Kent has been present on the top of the world ranking and this week all the hard work was rewarded when the American rider was announced as the new world no. one. As to the keys to consistency, Kent explaines: ”I think the management of the horses is the number one key. You have to pick the right venues for each horse and you shouldn’t over-use your horses. With good management your horses will last for a long time. They say that in racing the best trainers and jockeys win because they know which races to enter which horse. I believe the same applies to showjumping and I really decide my schedule based on my horses, not on where I want to go. The second key to consistency is that I am always looking into the future: I am trying to keep my eyes open and be willing to put work into young horses. I am looking to make sure I have enough options of horses; just like any top athlete, they can get injured. Having options gives you strength and I am always looking ahead, trying to keep my team strong. When I am scouting horses, I try the extreme ones; I never think they can be too careful. I grew up riding thoroughbred horses, so I like my horses with a lot of blood. I always try keeping my eyes open and try to have an open mind.”

When it comes to managing the every-day-life of a busy showjumper, Kent takes time to thank his team. ”I am in the lucky position to be surrounded by great people. Some of them have worked with me for over 10 years. There are a lot of balls to keep in the air, so it takes a lot of people: I have about 15-20 employees. Every four horses have their regular groom, then there are riders and managers plus people in the office. I am very grateful for the work they put in.”

Kent shares his time between America and Europe and is based outside of Antwerp, Belgium, during the summer season. ”My plan for the season is to take part in all the Rolex Grand Slams, in Aachen, Calgary and Geneva. They are my favorite shows and I hope I will have some luck. I think we are living in exciting times with sponsors like Rolex, who turns shows like Windsor into five-star events. It raises the level of the competition, and it is a positive challenge. I also take great pride to ride in the Nations Cups and I think that is something you can never take away: the honor of representing your country.”

When asked if breaking through into the top of the sport is harder now than it was before, Kent has a simple answer. ”The elite class in any sport is always difficult to break into. The ones on the absolute top dedicate time and effort, and in any sport breaking into the top at any point in time is a challenge. The fact that there are more shows than ever, more interest in the sport and more money, creates more opportunities. Of course the competition is hard, because there is a whole new level of interest.”

In the end, Kent believes success is all down to one factor: ”How hard are you willing to work?” 

 

 


Text © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen / Picture © Royal Windsor Horse Show

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