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Last Proves To Be The Best As Madison And Kent Farrington Win Ariat WEF Challenge Cup At Winter Equestrian Festival
Phelps Media Group
In the rain-soaked field of the Internationale Arena, 60 competitors braved the elements in round six of the $25,000 Ariat WEF Challenge Cup, but it came down to the very last round for the winners, Madison and Kent Farrington. The class, usually held in the afternoon, was moved so that the international riders could prepare their horses for next week’s nighttime highlight, the Samsung Nations’ Cup.
This week is the Cosequin Wellington Open and the Cannes Festival International Celebration, which is a sister show to a competition in Cannes, France.
The WEF Challenge Cup, a nine week long series of $25,000 Thursday Grand Prix events, concludes in Tampa as part of the final week of the Winter Equestrian Festival. The Challenge Cup is also a major money qualifier for the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational to be held on Saturday night, April 2, 2005, under the lights at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium.
Today’s event, a CSI 3* competition, was scored under FEI Article 238.2.2, Time First Jump-Off. The course designer this week is Germany’s Dr. Arno Gego.
Of the 60 horses in the first round, there were 13 clear rounds. Eleven horse and rider combinations had one rail down for four faults, while seven horses were either retired or eliminated. The course was demanding, with two imposing combinations and two surprising water jumps. The triple combination was the last part of the first course and proved to be the most difficult. It was a one stride to a two stride and the distances were set short. Fence 13b, a tall vertical of white planks, was the bogey jump and came down more than any other jump on the course.
The first clear round of the night came at the ninth horse, when Georgina Bloomberg and Riviera, owned by Gotham Enterprizes, were clean. Three more clean rounds came in the next eight trips, as Opus Sept and Schuyler Riley, Nadia and Bloomberg, and Allegiance and Laura Kraut posted no faults. Cody Baird came back from a disappointing trip on her first horse to go clear with October Farm’s Poleander.
Great Britain prepared their Nations’ Cup team when Ellen Whitaker rode AK Locarno to a fault-free round. Two horses later, Ian Millar had his first clean trip with In Style. It was 12 trips later when Timbuktu and Peter Leone were clear. Three clear rounds in a row came after him, as Mivenno and Leslie Howard, Quriel and Norman Dello Joio, and Promise Me and Ian Millar qualified for the jump-off. The last two fault-free trips came from Catch 22 and Ainsley Vince and Madison and Kent Farrington, who were the second to last pair on course.
Georgina Bloomberg and her first horse, Riviera, were the first to return in the jump-off. They seemed to be going for a clean, careful ride, and were rewarded with a clear round in a time of 43.15 seconds. Their time would hold the lead for another eight trips.
Schuyler Riley and Opus Sept, owned by South Beach Stables, rattled the top rail at a large oxer in the jump-off, but it stayed in the jump cups for a clear round. However, they were just off Bloomberg’s pace, with a time of 44.13 seconds. Ellen Whitaker, riding Steven Whitaker’s AK Locarno, made a quick turn after the second jump for a long gallop to the third jump. Their time of 42.69 seconds was faster than Bloomberg, but they had an unfortunate rail for four faults.
Bloomberg returned next in the jump-off with her second mount, Nadia, also owned by Gotham Enterprizes. She was more confident in her second trip, made faster turns, and beat her first time, but they also had one knockdown in a time of 42.68 seconds. Next on course was Laura Kraut and Allegiance, owned by Pin Oak Farm. Kraut has been fighting off sickness all week and surprised the crowd by leaving out a stride between the first two jumps and galloping through the jump-off. The speed proved to be too much, however, as they pulled a rail at the fifth jump. As they were heading to the last two jumps, Kraut had an uncharacteristic error, causing Allegiance to crash through the fence. They then circled and finished with eight jumping faults, seven time faults, and a time of 59.77 seconds.
Poleander and Cody Baird took a few chances as they blazed around the jump-off course in the fastest time thus far, 39.61 seconds. Her go-for-broke style came at a cost, as she and Poleander had the second to last jump down for four faults. Next to go was “Captain Canada,” Ian Millar, and In Style, owned by Sue Grange and Lothlorien Farms. Millar executed the course flawlessly, but was just off Bloomberg’s pace in a time of 43.66 seconds.
Timbuktu, ridden by Peter Leone and owned by Emily Zand, made tight turns in their bid to win, but had four faults in a time of 42.70. As David Goodwin’s Mivenno and Leslie Howard approached the first fence, it was clear Howard was going for the win. They had a faster time of 41.57, but it also came with an unfortunate knockdown for four faults.
The lead changed hands when the next duo, Norman Dello Joio and Quriel, owned by Ellie Belknap and Anthony Weight, finished the jump-off. This was Dello Joio’s first grand prix after an injury early in the year. The crowd knew from his quick turn after fence two that Dello Joio wanted to get back in winning form. Quriel galloped home in a time of 40.36 seconds for the current lead.
Millar returned next with his 2004 Athens Olympic horse, Promise Me. He rode a very steady round, leaving all the jumps up in a slower time of 50.91 seconds. Fellow Canadian Ainsley Vince followed Millar with her longtime partner, Catch 22. Vince made an excellent turn after the second jump and flew to the finish and the lead in a time of 40.19 seconds.
Vince is listed for the Canadian Nations’ Cup team, and used tonight to warm up Catch 22. “He’s an older horse and doesn’t need the mileage. I didn’t actually plan to go fast tonight, but it seemed to work out,” Vince recounted. “You just do your best and hope the person behind you isn’t faster,” she added.
Vince’s lead would be fleeting, however, as Kent Farrington and Madison, owned by Alexa Weeks, entered the ring. Farrington made amazing turns in the air over the jumps, as he and Madison sprinted through the timers. Their time of 38.74 seconds was the fastest of all rides in the jump-off and they were the clear winners.
Farrington believes that he gained the lead between fences two and three in the jump-off. “It was a long gallop to the next jump and I think I made up a lot of time there,” he explained. “Once I had that, I kind of just eased off, because the rest of the course is careful.” Madison seemed unfazed with the constant downpour, and Farrington’s only worry was the combination at the end of the jump-off. “My horse tends to build as the course goes on, so that was a really difficult double for her at the end,” he said. Farrington also added with a smile, “You had a 50-50 shot to leave that one up and you were either going to win or lose it there.”
Madison is only nine years old, but she and Farrington have had their share of grand prix victories. Farrington also remarked, “She’s placed in every grand prix that I’ve shown her in here, but this is her first win at WEF.” The mare handled the complicated course set by Dr. Gego brilliantly, so show jumping fans can expect to see more of this talented duo in the future.
The Acorn Hill Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge is the Friday feature, scheduled to get underway tomorrow in the DeNemethy Ring. There will be an additional nighttime event tomorrow, as both the Solaray Junior and Amateur-Owner Gambler’s Choice will be contested, starting at 7 p.m. Week six’s main event is Sunday’s $75,000 Cosequin Florida Open Grand Prix, a World Cup Qualifier, at 2 p.m.
Official Results- #101- $25,000 Ariat WEF Challenge Cup Series, Round Six- March 2, 2005- Internationale Arena
1- Madison, Kent Farrington- 0/0-38.74
2- Catch 22, Ainsley Vince- 0/0-40.19
3- Quriel, Norman Dello Joio- 0/0-40.36
4- Riviera, Georgina Bloomberg- 0/0-43.15
5- In Style, Ian Millar- 0/0-43.66
6- Opus Sept, Schuyler Riley- 0/0-44.13
7- Promise Me, Ian Millar- 0/0-50.91
8- Poleander, Cody Baird- 0/4-39.61
9- Mivenno, Leslie Howard- 0/4-41.57
10- Nadia, Georgina Bloomberg- 0/4-42.68
11- RK Locarno, Ellen Whitaker- 0/4-42.69
12- Timbuktu, Peter Leone- 0/4-42.70
13- Allegiance, Laura Kraut- 0/15-59.77
14- Mozart des Hayettes, Gregory Wathelet- 4/82.67
15- VDL Oscar, Frankie Chesler- 4/82.73
Photo Credit: Madison and Kent Farrington win the $25,000 Ariat WEF Challenge Cup at Winter Equestrian Festival. Photo by Randi Muster.