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Kent Farrington wins the €1.000.000 Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen with Gazelle: “I’m sure this goes on the top of my list!”

Sunday, 21 July 2019
CHIO Aachen 2019

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping A big hug for Gazelle from Kent Farrington after winning the €1.000.000 Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

Kent Farrington (USA) jumped himself into the history books, when winning Sunday's prestigious €1.000.000 Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen with the wonderful 13-year-old mare Gazelle (Kashmir van ‘t Schuttershof x Indoctro). With his victory in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping’s second Major of the year, Farrington is now the new live contender and in the run for a bonus of €250.000 should he go on to win the Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows in September. 

“This is the best! I’m sure this goes on the top of my list!” Farrington was quick to reply when asked where he ranks today’s victory among his many accolades. “Rolex really raises the level of the sport. You see the best riders on their best horses and this is one of the most prestigious events we have in our sport. The history of winners is filled with the best riders in the world, so I’m very proud to be a part of that.”

The first round of the Rolex Grand Prix counted no less than fourteen fences, and included two doubles, a triple combination as well as an open water, and with many of the jumps set at 1.70m it was as expected a tough test that waited for the forty horse-and-rider combinations qualified. As usual riders came in trouble at the double of liverpools, one of them was Laura Kraut (USA) who unfortunately had her second fall of the weekend with Curious George (Codex One x Dutch Capitol). Luckily, both left the ring on their feet – seemingly unhurt. The Rolex triple at the very end, set at 13abc, also claimed its fair share of victims and several riders got their dream of a clear round shattered at the last upright – including previous Aachen Grand Prix winners Marcus Ehning (GER) and Christian Ahlmann (GER). 

“It was typical of an Aachen-course. Seeing that the best of the best are here every test out there is difficult,” Farrington commented on the course afterwards. “Rideability, scope, carefulness is all going to be tested over two rounds. I think that’s why you saw faults throughout the course, every part of it is a test and there is no easy part of the course.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Kent Farrington and Gazelle on their way to victory in the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

The home crowds got plenty to cheer for when reigning World Champions Simone Blum (GER) and DSP Alice (Askari x Landrebell) as well as Daniel Deusser (GER) and Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z (Tangelo vd Zuuthoeve x Mr. Blue) joined in on delivering clear rounds. There were nine clears in total, courtesy of Darragh Kenny (IRL) on Babalou 41 (Balou du Rouet x Silvio I), Martin Fuchs (SUI) on Clooney 51 (Cornet Obolensky x Ferragamo), Kevin Staut (FRA) on Urhelia Lutterbach (Helios de la Cour II x Emilion), Kent Farrington (USA) on Gazelle (Kashmir van ‘t Schuttershof x Indoctro), Jerome Guery (BEL) on Quel Homme de Hus (Quidam de Revel x Candillo), Ben Maher (GBR) on Explosion W (Chacco-Blue x Baloubet du Rouet) as well as McLain Ward (USA) on HH Azur (Thunder vd Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui) – plus the two German home heroes. 

A total of eighteen riders moved on to the second round of the Rolex Grand Prix. Counting twelve fences, including a double and a triple combination, it was again set at 1.70m. The first double clear round came from Jerome Guery, who would be joined by Darragh Kenny, McLain Ward, Ben Maher, Kent Farrington, Simone Blum and Daniel Deusser – truly the crème-de-la-crème of showjumping – for the jump-off. 

The main stadium in Aachen was sold out today, filled up by 40.000 spectators, and they were in for a treat as the jump-off got underway with some of the absolute fastest riders in the world wanting to write their names onto the winners’ wall at Soers.  

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Runner-up Daniel Deusser and Scuderia Tobago Z over the last oxer of the jump-off. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Guery opened the jump-off, and until the turn to the penultimate fence it was looking good for the Belgian rider – but then Quel Homme de Hus slipped and there was no other choice but to pull up leaving them on a score of four faults. Darragh Kenny had the poles on the second oxer down, and when McLain Ward’s HH Azur hit both the first and penultimate upright it was all down to the final four. However, luck was not on Ben Maher’s side either – who had a blistering fast round in 43.94 seconds but who also had to see a pole on the penultimate upright fall to the ground. 

With only three to go, Kent Farrington and Gazelle entered the ring. Known as one of the fastest pairs in the world, the two set off determinedly with the light-footed mare moving quickly across the ground. Crossing the finish line, the American rider was the first to post a triple clear and in a very fast time: 43.98 seconds. 

Two home riders remained, and the tension could be touched. Simone Blum and her wonderful DSP Alice were out first, but unfortunately the plank fell and they were left on four faults – much to the disappointment of the home crowds. As the last rider in the ring, the pressure was on for Daniel Deusser. He gave it a good shot, but Tobago Z could not quite match the speed of Gazelle and although racing down the last line cheered on by the crowds the two were still behind with their 44.35 seconds and had to settle for the runner-up position. As the fastest of the four-faulters, Ben Maher and Explosion W finished third while Simone Blum ended fourth and Darragh Kenny fifth. 

“I’ve been close in this class before, and I was remembering that today,” Farrington said about his strategy for the jump-off. “I’ve been riding up to that arena all week, looking at that wall (of winners) saying I want to put my name up there at the end of the week – so I have been really focused on that. Last time I was in the jump-off, I was the fastest with one down and ended up second. Today I thought I’m going to just put enough pressure, and hopefully that will be enough. A little different strategy, and it paid off today.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Third placed Ben Maher and Explosion W. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

The former world no. one had a tough 2018 and was unable to compete for three months after breaking his leg in a fall. “It was a pretty bad break,” Farrington said. “It was a real test of how bad I want to do this, and I took the attitude that I was going to come back stronger than when I left – I really started attacking it straight away. I hope that I can go back to being number one again, but it takes a really strong team of horses. Obviously, Gazelle is an amazing horse and she’s helping me get there.”

While Daniel Deusser was beaten, he showed no sign of dissapoinment. “I’m very, very happy with my horse today. He jumped three rounds clear, he did a fast jump-off – in the end Kent was faster, that is the sport. Of course I would love to win the Grand Prix of Aachen once, but today I am delighted with my second place,” Daniel Deusser said. 

“I’m happy and disappointed at the same time,” Maher said speaking about his fast jump-off that ended with four faults. “I’ve been very lucky to have had many good horses so far in my career, but Explosion is made of something different. He gives me the confidence that we can do anything!”

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