Week eight of the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), sponsored by G&C Farm, concluded on Sunday afternoon with an exciting victory for Kent Farrington (USA) and Robin Parsky's Blue Angel in the $150,000 CSIO 4* Grand Prix, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). In an 11-horse jump-off, Farrington and Blue Angel were 1/100th of a second faster than Beezie Madden (USA) and Abigail Wexner's Cortes 'C' who finished second. Conor Swail (IRL) and Lansdowne, owned by Ariel and Susan Grange, placed third.
Anthony D'Ambrosio of Red Hook, NY, was the course designer in the International Arena at PBIEC for the week. In Sunday's feature class, 53 entries showed and eleven went clear to advance to the jump-off. In the second round, six cleared the short course without fault, and it was a race to the finish as the times got faster and faster.Charlie Jayne (USA) and Chill RZ, owned by Alex Jayne and Maura Thatcher, showed the way to a clear round in the jump-off and eventually placed sixth with their time of 41.02 seconds. McLain Ward (USA) and Grant Road Partners' Antares F went next and improved on that time in 38.83 seconds to place fourth. Germany's Janne Friederike Meyer and Cellagon Lambrasco, owned by Meyer, Friedrich and Anne Sophie, were just 2/100ths of a second slower in 38.85 seconds to take the fifth place prize.
Conor Swail and Lansdowne went next and put on quite a show as they stopped the clock in 38.57 seconds to eventually place third. Beezie Madden and Cortes 'C' upped the ante once more as they completed their round in 38.25 seconds. Just when it seemed like Madden might not be beat, Kent Farrington and Blue Angel raced through the timers in 38.24 seconds, just 1/100th of a second faster, to grab the top spot.Farrington's winning mount, Blue Angel, is an eleven-year-old Anglo European mare by Luidam x Ascendant. Farrington just started riding her in Wellington this winter and as he put it, the pair "sort of jumped into the deep end of the pool," going for the big classes right away.
"We did the 1.30m, 1.40m, and then we were off and running," Farrington stated. "Winning with her gives me confidence in what I've been doing. I want to continue to try to grow with the horse and really get her into my system and get to know her better."
"She is a special horse that's actually the type of horse I grew up riding, more Thoroughbred-type," Farrington described. "We had a lot of horses off the racetrack and I used to race ponies as a kid, so I'm used to riding really hot, small horses like that. That's sort of right up my alley."
In their short time together, Farrington and Blue Angel have had several top finishes, including a second place in this week's $43,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 8. "I haven't ridden it that long, but it's naturally a fast horse," Farrington point out. "I have actually practiced a few jump-offs in here. We have come close to winning a few classes - the WEF on Thursday was a speed round and she was second. McLain (Ward) won with a spectacular round that was unbeatable. Today was our day and we got a little redemption."
Commenting on Sunday's course, Farrington remarked, "I didn't think there would be as many clear as there were, but I think that shows the strength of the field today." Farrington and second place finisher Beezie Madden are fresh off a win for Team USA in Friday night's $75,000 Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ presented by G&C Farm. Madden and her mount Cortes 'C' have had a great season, also including a win in the $125,000 FEI World Cup™ Qualifier Grand Prix, CSI 3*-W presented by Spy Coast Farm during week six.
Madden agreed with Farrington's comment on Sunday's class. "I thought it was a good course," she stated. "In a class like this I would prefer a few less clean, but I thought it tested carefulness and scope and a little bravery at the end with the[brush] box going into the triple [combination]. I think he had a really good feel for the horses. A lot of the riders had their top horses in today, so it makes for some very good jumping."
Madden commented on her round in the jump-off, explaining, "I saw Conor go before me, so I knew it was very, very fast. I was just trying to use my horse's big stride. I could set off right through the timers fast; I could trust him to jump the first fence clean and just gallop to that, and hope to be really fast to the second fence. I think I eased up a bit to the fifth fence, the oxer. I think I pretty much matched Kent everywhere else. It's hard to say where you lost a hundredth of a second."
Third place finisher, Conor Swail, had a great round with Lansdowne but knew he had some fast riders still to come. "I certainly didn't think I had it, but I was very happy to go into the lead," he noted. "Lansdowne is a fantastic horse. He's now 10 years old and he has jumped a few of these bigger classes. He knows what to do with himself now. I was delighted. I think the top four riders, those rounds would win most grand prixs. It was crazy."
With a world-class line-up, Sunday's class certainly proved the talent of the horses and riders in the jump-off. Swail was happy to be a part of the action. "It's nice to ride with these guys and be competitive with them," he acknowledged. "You learn a lot by being in this company. By riding with the best, it's how we get better. We all enjoy the competition. Any one of us could win each particular day. We never think we cannot win. We want to be on the top."
Final Results: $150,000 CSIO 4* Grand Prix Presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty
1. BLUE ANGEL: 2002 AES mare by Luidam x Ascendant KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Robin Parsky: 0/0/38.24
2. CORTES 'C': 2002 BWP gelding by Randel Z x Darco BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/0/38.25
3. LANSDOWNE: 2003 KWPN stallion by Guidam x Wolfgang CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Ariel & Susan Grange: 0/0/38.57
4. ANTARES F: 2000 Baden-Württemberger gelding by Araconit x Cento MCLAIN WARD (USA), Grand Road Partners: 0/0/38.83
5. CELLAGON LAMBRASCO: 1998 Holsteiner gelding by Libero x Coriolan JANNE FRIEDERIKE MEYER (GER), Meyer, Friedrich & Anna Sophie: 0/0/38.85
6. CHILL R Z: 2003 Zangersheide stallion by Chellano Z x A Lucky One CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Alex Jayne and Maura Thatcher: 0/0/41.02
7. CABALLITO: 2002 Holsteiner gelding by Contendro x Argentinus ANDRES RODRIGUEZ (VEN), Arao Enterprises LLC: 0/4/39.86
8. WHITNEY: 2003 KWPN mare by Indoctro x Concorde RAMIRO QUINTANA (ARG), St. Bride's Farm: 0/4/43.37
9. WATCH ME VD MANGELAAR: 2003 KWPN gelding by Heartbreaker x Wolfgang DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Samantha Tuerk: 0/4/46.77
10. ROYCE: 2004 Oldenburg stallion by Café au lait x Grandilot MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Elm Rock LLC: 0/4/49.98
11. CEDRIC: 1998 Holsteiner gelding by Chambertin x Carolus Z LAURA KRAUT (USA), Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc: 0/8/39.61
12. CONTANGA 3: 2004 Oldenburg mare by Catoki x Contango ANDRE THIEME (GER), Andre Thieme: 1/77.81
Source: Press release by Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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