RCG Farm's Uceko quickly returned to the winner's circle with Kent Farrington (USA) at this week's Spruce Meadows 'North American' Tournament after nearly six months out of competition for a well deserved rest. Farrington and Uceko jumped to an impressive victory in Thursday's $85,000 Progress Energy Cup 1.55m over McLain Ward (USA) and HH Carlos Z (second), and Pablo Barrios (VEN) with Zara Leandra (third).
Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela is the course designer in the International Ring for the week and showcased another day of fantastic show jumping in Thursday's competition. In the $85,000 Progress Energy Cup, Palacios saw 42 entries with nine in the jump-off and six double clear rounds. Kent Farrington and Uceko stopped the clock in 36.93 seconds for the win.
McLain Ward and Double H Farm's HH Carlos Z clocked in at 38.49 seconds to finish in reserve. Pablo Barrios and ZL Group Inc.'s Zara Leandra placed third in 38.57 seconds.
Thirteen-year-old Uceko, a KWPN gelding by Celano x Koriander, has had an illustrious career with Farrington including some big wins at Spruce Meadows. Following a fantastic 2013 season, Farrington decided to give Uceko a rest while he focused on some of his other horses. Uceko has not shown since December and came out for the first time this week looking immediately back on form.
"That horse has worked really hard for me for four years," Farrington explained. "Now that I have some other horses that have stepped up to be competitive, I thought he deserved a break. I gave him six months to not even look at a jump and forget about showing for awhile. This is his first week out. He feels really fresh and better than ever and really excited to be back at a show. I could not be happier with him."
Commenting on their winning round, Farrington noted, "My horse has a very big stride, so the field really suits him. He is also quite brave, so he can kind of go on the attack at the jumps. With him, it's really just playing to his strengths as a horse."
Often a consistent winner at Spruce Meadows each year, Thursday's win was actually Farrington's first victory at the Summer Series. He has gotten a lot of good experience in with his younger horses, but was happy to finally take a round of honor.
"That's sometimes our sport and how it goes. It's a game of inches and half-seconds," Farrington acknowledged. "I had a couple things not break my way so far, so it is good to get a win under our belt, so to speak. I didn't bring as many experienced horses as in the past. I really just brought Voyeur for the bigger classes. I have a bunch of younger ones that are getting a lot of miles and they are competitive, but they aren't really ready to win. When you have an experienced horse like Uceko, it is really nice to go in a class and know that you can put the pressure on, put the hammer down, and go to really compete and not have to hold back."
As Uceko continues to get back in shape, Farrington will likely jump him one more time this week with the ultimate goal of competing in the final grand prix of the Summer Series, the $400,000 Pan American Cup presented by Rolex on Sunday, July 13. He plans to jump Voyeur in Saturday's $210,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup.
"Voyeur has done more, so that was my plan," Farrington stated. "I think he is really a great horse as well, but he doesn't have as much experience. This is one of the best venues not just for the top horses, but also to produce a horse. If they jump here in this ring over these jumps, you can feel pretty comfortable that they can go almost anywhere in the world."
Final Results: $85,000 Progress Energy Cup 1.55m
1 UCEKO: Dutch Warmblood / G / 13 Celano x Koriander
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), RCG Farm: 0/0/36.93
2 HH CARLOS Z: Zangersheide / G / 12 Chellano Z x Voltaire
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Double H Farm: 0/0/38.49
3 ZARA LEANDRA: Dutch Warmblood / M / 10 Metropole x Ahorn
PABLO BARRIOS (VEN), ZL Group Inc: 0/0/38.57
4 TRIPPLE X III: AES / S / 12 Namelus R x Cantango
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/0/39.47
5 CHILL R Z: Zangersheide / S / 11 Chellano Z x A Lucky One
CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Alex R Jayne: 0/0/39.95
6 DIXSON: Belgian Warmblood / G / 11 Vigo D Arsouilles x Olisco
IAN MILLAR (CAN), Susan & Ariel Grange: 0/0/41.81
7 TIC TAC: Belgian Sport Horse / S / 11 Clinton x Darco
LESLIE HOWARD (USA), Jane Clark: 0/4/37.92
8 CASALL: Holstein / G / 9 Casall x Capitol I
ALI WOLFF (USA), Blacklick Bend Farm: 0/8/40.09
9 QUILEBO DU TILLARD: Selle Francais / G / 10 For Pleasure x Quat Sous
ENRIQUE GONZALEZ (MEX), Enrique Gonzalez: 0/16/55.77
10 VERDI III: Dutch Warmblood / G / 12 Hors la Loi III x Cantus
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms, LLC: 1/72.67
11 EREGAST VAN'T KIEZELHOF:Belgian Warmblood / G / 10 Thunder van de Zuuthoeut x Lantano
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm, LLC: 1/72.72
12 DOREMI: Belgian Warmblood / S / 11 Quidam de Revel x Cento
BEN ASSELIN (CAN), Linda Southern-Heathcott: 1/73.67
Source: Press release from Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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