Lexington, KY - May 15, 2011 - The rain continued to come down at the Kentucky Horse Park today, but 30 riders still turned out to compete during the $55,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington, at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. Eight horse and rider combinations were able to advance to the jump-off in the Rolex Stadium, and five of those entries left the ring without fault the second time, making speed the deciding factor during today's main event.
Once again, Kent Farrington had all the luck, this time with his winning mount from the 2011 American Invitational, Uceko. The Millar Family rounded out the top three, with Amy Millar and Costa Rica Z placing second, and Ian Millar taking home third aboard Instyle.
Anthony D'Ambrosio of the United States designed today's masterful first round, as well as the short course. The opening test included 17 jumping efforts, which featured a triple combination, an open water with pole, and three double combinations. Early in the class, a tight time eliminated a total of six riders from the jump-off, despite the fact they left all the rails untouched.
"I thought the time was very short," admitted Farrington. "I think it was sort of a mixed bag of horses and riders in the class. I think Anthony tried to make the time more of a factor than size, so I think in the beginning it caught a lot of people off guard. You had to really motor around to make the time."
For the jump-off, there were a number of areas to open up and gallop. Riders began over a single oxer with a long gallop to another single oxer, before making a very sharp left turn to a vertical-vertical double combination. The end of the course included three long gallops to single obstacles before the finalists made their way through the timers.
Kent Farrington was the first of the eight riders that advanced to leave all the rails intact aboard Uceko, owned by RCG Farm. The talented rider helped his horse find a nice distance to the second oxer and easily jumped through the combination. They kept a big gallop through the rest of the track and jumped home over the airy vertical, stopping the clock at an unbeatable 38.18 seconds.
"There weren't any related lines, there were all sort of long gallops to single fences and Uceko has a really long stride, so that actually worked to his advantage," explained Farrington after his win. "When it's in the lines, his stride is so big you sometimes actually need to go slow, so just having single jumps was nice and I just let him open up and go."
Amy Millar made an excellent attempt to catch Farrington's time, one round later, with Costa Rica Z, owned by Millar Brooke Farm. The duo made a big twist over the second oxer to create a smooth turn to the double combination, but Millar slowed down a bit near the end of the course. The brief break in pace caused her to lose a second and break the beam at 39.09 seconds, which would be good enough for second place.
"My horse felt amazing today, some days it really clicks and show jumping feels easy," smiled Millar. "Fortunately for me, today it was one of those days. The time allowed was really short in the first round. Sometimes I struggle with that, so I went really fast and it wasn't an issue. I couldn't be more pleased with how Costa Rica Z jumped today. I've had her for seven years; she's like my buddy, we know each other really well."
Earlier this year, Ian Millar placed second to Farrington and Uceko during the 2011 American Invitational with Star Power. This time, Millar hoped to be leading the victory gallop with Susan Grange's In Style, but it proved not to be the case once again. The duo started out strong, but after a big effort over the second oxer they became slightly disorganized and had to take a longer turn to the double combination. While the extra time helped keep faults off the board, it did add a second to the final score as they finished in 39.27 seconds for third.
By the end of the class it became apparent that Farrington's time could not be caught without fault. Hector Florentino and Ultimo, owned by Stransky's Mission Farms, completed a clear round in 40.64 seconds, while Ragan Roberts and Quipit L.F., owned by The Quipit Group, left all the fences in tact in a time of 44.45 seconds to place fourth and fifth, respectively.
Angel Karolyi and James T. Kirk, owned by Abigail Walker, were the first to compete today, but after holding to the last fence, they added four faults to their score and earned the sixth place award. Young rider Ali Wolff and Lanoo, owned by Blacklick Bend Farm, had difficulty coming out of the double combination and at the last vertical for eight faults and the seventh place honors. Taylor McMurty was the last to show over the shortened track with Just An Illusion, but their twelve fault score would earn the eight place award and seal Farrington's second big win of the week.
At the end of the day, Farrington was all smiles having won the $55,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix today, the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic on Saturday with and Calvin Vanhet Wuttensenfof, and earlier this year taking home another big pay check aboard Uceko after the $200,000 American Invitational. "I'm really just excited to have Uceko back," he commented. " I had high hopes for him before and to see him rallying back like that is really exciting for me. I was sort of missing one to step up behind Up Chiqui, and he was my hope a couple years ago. It's just nice to see him getting back in the game."
Farrington continued, "Uceko's a quality horse, so any time you're riding a quality horse it always makes the job easier. He's playful so you just have to be a little bit ready in case he tries to get quirky or spooky. He'll sometimes spin around, so he's just a little bit naughty." He laughed adding, "Alert is the word I would use."
The Kentucky Spring Horse Show has been a huge success for Farrington as well as his clients, who had wins in the High and Low Amateur-Owner Jumpers. After the Kentucky Spring Classic next week, Farrington plans to compete at Spruce Meadows, and also hopes to qualify Uceko for the Pfizer Million and possibly the Pan American Games.
Farrington concluded, "I'd like to thank RCG and all of the owners that I have. That's really what the sport is about, having horse power and having people that are horse enthusiasts supporting riders like myself. I just feel really lucky that I have good people behind me."
Today's competition marked the conclusion of the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. On Wednesday, the Kentucky Spring Classic will kick-off at the Kentucky Horse Park and continue through May 22nd. The week's highlight event will be the $55,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix, CSI 2* sponsored by Audi of Lexington on Saturday, May 21st.
For more information about the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows please go to www.kentuckyhorseshows.com
RESULTS: $55,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix
1 395 UCEKO KENT FARRINGTON 0 0 0 80.370 0 0 0 38.130
2 568 COSTA RICA Z AMY MILLAR 0 0 0 80.290 0 0 0 39.090
3 570 INSTYLE IAN MILLAR 0 0 0 79.650 0 0 0 39.270
4 1009 ULTIMO HECTOR FLORENTINO 0 0 0 82.840 0 0 0 40.640
5 4 QUIPIT L.F. RAGAN ROBERTS 0 0 0 80.980 0 0 0 44.450
6 832 JAMES T. KIRK ANGEL KAROLYI 0 0 0 84.410 4 0 4 41.280
7 719 LANOO ALI WOLFF 0 0 0 81.880 8 0 8 40.070
8 548 JUST AN ILLUSION TAYLOR MCMURTY 0 0 0 78.510 12 0 12 45.860
9 975 AL CALYPSO SAMUEL PAROT 0 1 1 85.040
10 566 CONTINO 14 JONATHON MILLAR 0 1 1 85.220
11 320 COLORADO JONATHAN MCCREA 0 1 1 85.230
12 569 STAR POWER IAN MILLAR 0 1 1 85.650
Photo Credit: Kent Farrington and Uceko won the $55,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. Photo By: Rebecca Walton/PMG.