Top athletes need that special horse to help them stay at the pinnacle of the sport, and Kent Farrington found that mount in the very quirky Voyeur. Farrington has worked hard to develop all of Voyeur's qualities that make him special and turn him into a winner. Sunday afternoon at the CP National Horse Show, they once again proved why they are ranked as one of the best pairs in the world when they bested a 13-horse jump-off to win the $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup Lexington, presented by CP.
"Voyeur is very fresh; he's an aggressive horse," said Farrington after his win. "He has a lot of blood all the time. You usually have to be a little bit awake when you're riding him because he can spin very quickly and spooks at a lot of things. He's a handful, but I think most of the good ones are."
Farrington continued, "I think that today's modern show jumper is a really versatile horse that's really rideable and fast. Scopey and careful - that's what we're all looking for. I think the most experienced horses that are successful in this sport can usually do both. I actually think he is better outside than indoors, but this indoor is quite big, which is why I thought it would suit him to bring him here."
Thirty-six entries gathered at the Kentucky Horse Park to participate in the highlight event of the competition and vie for valuable points to qualify for the 2016 Longines FEI World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden. One of seven events in the new FEI World Cup East Coast League, the top athletes in the world competed over Guilherme Jorge's first round track in the hopes of qualifying for the jump-off. Thirteen managed to do so, and 11 were also clear over the short track, making speed a key factor in the day's results.
"I thought the course today was a big track, but obviously not that big because they jumped it really well," Jorge said. "I think for the class today, if I had to look back and see, I could have made the time allowed a little shorter. At this level it's a very fine line, and I think the riders today jumped it great and that's the reason we had 13 clears for the jump-off."
Six of the top seven finishers completed the course within just one-tenth of a second of one another, with Farrington being the only rider to finish under 34 seconds. Ireland's Conor Swail and Ilan Ferder's Viva Colombia were the slowest to finish under 35 seconds, breaking the beam at 34.76 seconds with all the rails intact for seventh place. The sixth place award went to Belgium's Jos Verlooy and Sunshine, owned by Axel Verlooy and Eurohorse BVBA, for their clear round in 34.36 seconds. Hardin Towell and Jennifer Gates' Emilie de Diamant AS just narrowly slipped ahead of them for fifth place in 34.32 seconds.
Beezie Madden and Abigail Wexner's Breitling LS set the pace to beat early in the tiebreaker when they crossed the finish line in 34.26 seconds. Despite his mount being blind in one eye, Belgium's Olivier Philippaerts had one of the fastest rounds of the day on H&M Challenge VD Begijnakker Z, owned by Bart Keisse. He finished in 34.07 seconds for third place, just two-hundredths of a second behind Laura Kraut.
Discussing his mount's vision, Philippaerts commented, "He got in an accident a couple of years ago, and he's now completely blind in one eye. He got adjusted to it very quickly. Now he's actually perfectly fine, and it doesn't seem to affect him at all."
Kraut was aboard Deauville S, another quirky mount, who is owned by Old Willow Farms, for her speedy jump-off. They were just ahead of Philippaerts, clearing the track in 34.05 seconds to place second and also earn the show's Leading Lady Rider title.
"I actually went after Kent, and I had the advantage of seeing him go, which was helpful," Kraut admitted. "I tried to stay on what he had done, but I couldn't get the momentum to the last fence. I knew I was close enough, so I thought I might be second or third, and I played it a little safe going into the last jump."
She added, "This horse I'm particularly excited about. I've had him since March, and he's really coming along. In the warm-up he's really special. I've learned he likes to just stop and stand. If I just let him stand, then you can then make him go to a fence and he'll jump it... and then he likes to stand. As long as you don't make him keep going, going, going, he seems fine with that. You always have to let him decompress. If you don't keep charging him up, then he stays calm."
Farrington's speedy mount Voyeur, owned by Amalaya Investments, made light work of the winding jump-off track. Rolling back through the sharp turns and galloping to the last vertical, they dashed across the finish line in 33.19 seconds to take the win by a full second.
"It really comes down to what plan is going to suit your horse at that time," Farrington said. "It was really what suited your horse: how tight you could roll back to the vertical, how fast you could go to the double and the last fence. Today, I was on a much more experienced horse than Laura, and that was probably my advantage."
He continued, "The prize money is very good here for a North American World Cup show, so I brought two horses that I thought would be very competitive. I rode my best horse today. They both performed up to expectations, and I couldn't ask for more."
Along with plenty of prize money, Farrington will be driving away from the CP National Horse Show in a luxurious new ride: an Audi Q7 from Audi of Lexington. He earned a yearlong lease on the car by clinching the show's Leading Jumper Rider title.
At the end of the night, CP National Horse Show President Mason Phelps Jr. concluded, "Partnering with Longines for this World Cup Qualifier was a big plus for us. The Longines team and working with the organizing committee was great; I think we have a great partnership. I look forward to a big future. Our partnership with Canadian Pacific helped create the funds for the $250,000 class, bringing the top athletes to Kentucky."
Founded in 1883 at the original Madison Square Garden, the National Horse Show is America's oldest indoor horse show, firmly established as a major fixture on the national and international sports and social event calendars. The National Horse Show Association's primary activity is the annual production of the National Horse Show and all ancillary events. Over the years, the National Horse Show has provided financial aid to many worthwhile charities.
For more information on the National Horse Show please visit www.nhs.org.
Source: Press release from Phelps Media Group
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