The Town Branch Bourbon $50,000 International Open Jumper Speed took center stage Friday evening,where the first section of the class proved to be the best of the day. Candice King, of Wellington, FL, was the first to show over Conrad Homfeld's winding speed class aboard Quality Stud's Antigone Quality. Despite the pressure of being the pathfinders, King and Antigone Quality were perfect over each fence and set the time to beat at 60.07 seconds.
Belgium's Nicola Philippaerts was next in the Alltech Arena with Frans Lens' Carlito C, and they made sure King did not hold on to the lead for too long when they also managed to navigate the track with ease, leaving each rail intact and breaking the beam at 58.95 seconds.
Four rounds later Kent Farrington of Wellington, FL, entered the ring with Blue Angel, owned by Robin Parksy. The pair picked up a very quick gallop to the first obstacle and never left off the gas, shaving off seconds through each turn and not wasting a moment in the air. They managed to leave each fence standing while blazing across the finish line in 53.26 seconds. The five second difference would prove unbeatable as Farrington led the victory gallop after the 23 remaining riders tried to catch his time, followed by Philippaerts in second and King in third.
"Conrad is one of the best course designers in the world," expressed Farrington. "I find his courses really smooth. They are fair to the horses, and all of his options for speed are up to the rider. Instead of a mandatory inside turn he leaves it up to the rider. You can turn as close as you dare to the fences, and I think today that was really an advantage for my horse. I could just go smooth. She's naturally quick across the ground, and I used a big gallop from the beginning and stayed on the same clip all the way around."
Farrington added, "I wouldn't say I left door open, but I came out of the ring thinking if somebody beat me it would be a well earned win today."
Just last Saturday, Farrington and Blue Angel won the $100,000 Presidents Cup at the Washington International Horse Show, so tomorrow he will be riding Willow in the Alltech $250,000 World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix. "I thought Blue Angel jumped her heart out last week at Washington, so I didn't want to ask her to do that again two weeks in a row," he explained. "Willow is a new ride for me, and I wanted to see if he will be ready to go to Europe. I thought this would be a good test. I thought it would be a great way to jump a bigger class and know where I stand with that horse for the future."
Source: Press release from Rebecca Walton for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International.
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