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Fortune favours Farrington in the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final 2019

Friday, 13 December 2019
CHI Geneva 2019

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Kent Farrington celebrates his victory in the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final 2019. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



Fortune favours the brave goes the saying, and that was certainly the case in Friday night’s Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final at CHI Geneva where Kent Farrington showed some real fighting spirit to claim his second title in this prestigious competition. Farrington’s first victory was in 2015 with Voyeur (Tolano Van´t Riethof x Goodwill), this time it came aboard the 11-year-old mare Austria 2 (Casall x Corrado I).

“I think this is an amazing class – it’s great that Rolex puts this down – it really showcases the top level of our sport,” Farrington said after his victory. “You see all the best riders, you see great horses and tonight was no exception.”

A highlight in the showjumping calendar, the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final brings together the world's ten best riders to celebrate their achievements during the past year. In this spirit, this year’s Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final opened with a parade presenting the ten riders – taking the time to look back at and reflect on each of their incredible 2019 – before the action kicked off in Palexpo. The crowds by far grew the loudest towards the end of the parade, when their favourites Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Steve Guerdat (SUI) entered the arena as world no. two and one respectively. The question was, would the host nation go out on top yet again – like last year? 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Lap of honour for the winners of the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final 2019: Kent Farrington and Austria 2. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

In Beezie Madden’s absence, all riders were male this year – and getting the class underway was Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) and Toveks Mary Lou (Montendro x Portland L), runners-up in last year’s final. First to tackle the twelve-fence track, it was not smooth sailing for Von Eckermann as Mary Lou threw in a surprising refusal at the oxer at ten.

As next to go, Kent Farrington – also a winner of the Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva in 2017 – produced the first clear round with Austria 2 after putting in some serious rider’s effort over the 1.60m track. Christian Ahlmann (GER) and Clintrexo Z (Clintissimo Z x Rex Z) got close to a clear round too, but exceeded the time allowed and recorded a single penalty. Darragh Kenny (IRL) matched Farrington however, making it around clear with Romeo 88 (Contact vd Heffinck x Orlando) despite a heart-stopping stumble on the way. 

A few back rails came in the way for Pieter Devos (BEL) and Espoir (Surcouf de Revel x Laudanum xx), and it was not Peder Fredricson’s (SWE) day either as H&M All In (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Fortune) had a stumble after fence no. two which caused the Swedish rider to pull up – checking that his faithful partner was ok before he could continue. Ben Maher (GBR) and F One USA (Toulon x Tangelo vd Zuuthoeve) could not keep on a clean sheet either, and had two rails down half-way in the course while Daniel Deusser (GER) and Killer Queen VDM (Eldorado v. Zeshoek x For Pleasure) knocked the back rail on 11a down. 

Now it was all down to the two home heroes, and a fully seated Palexpo held their breath collectively as Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Silver Shine (Califax Balou du Rouet) got underway. However, the back pole on the oxer at 10 stood in the way of a clear round for the crowd favourites. Defending title-holder Steve Guerdat (SUI) was last in the ring, and when he delivered a clear round on Alamo (Ukato x Equador) the roof of Palexpo nearly lifted – home hopes were restored. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Runner-up Darragh Kenny and Romeo 88. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Coming back in reverse order in round two, eight riders chose to return with Fredricson and Von Eckermann passing on going against the clock – saving their horses for another day. Pieter Devos and Ben Maher both delivered clear rounds the second time around, as did Daniel Deusser. Martin Fuchs had no luck however, and had a front rail down coming into the penultimate double. 

Christian Ahlmann also managed to keep all the fences intact despite a few rubs on the way, and went into the lead with his single penalty from round one. As next to go, Steve Guerdat gave it a good shot but came a bit big into the double and had the front rail of the oxer coming in down – accompanied by Swiss disappointment – leaving the lead with Ahlmann. 

Darragh Kenny, competing in his first Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final, showed no nerves and steered Romeo 88 to a clear and fast round, going into the lead in 42.54 seconds – putting some serious pressure on Farrington as last to go. Coming fresh from his win in last night’s Grand Prix qualifier, Farrington was up for the challenge however and blazing around the shortened track he managed to shave off over two seconds on Kenny’s time – taking the second Top 10-title of his career. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Third place went to Christian Ahlmann and Clintrexo Z. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“It was a massive first round in my opinion, very big – that was why we did not see so many clears – only three of us jumped clear in the first round. Darragh put in a very fast [second] round and I had to try my best to beat him tonight!” Farrington smiled afterwards.

“The owners [of Austria] actually live next door to me in Florida, and I had seen them out riding on the trails along the canals and I always told them that I liked this horse," Farrington told. "I said that for Christmas one year I want them to give me the horse to ride. It did not happen at Christmas, but in April they asked me if I wanted to start riding the horse so I took over and started building from there,” Farrington explained about his successful partnership with Austria 2. 

Runner-up Darragh Kenny was delighted with the evening too, and said: “It was fantastic, it was really fun! It is such a great class. I have watched it for years and it is a fantastic class to watch. You see the best riders in the world going out as best they can, and it was really nice to be a part of it and really fun to end up with a nice result.” 


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