Lexington, KY - When 15 horses qualified for the jump-off during the $130,000 CP Grand Prix, presented by Copernicus Stables, at the CP National Horse Show, it was clear that it would require more than just scope to win the day. For Kent Farrington, the need for speed paid off because his mount Willow is always ready to race. The duo's faultless and fast jump-off round topped the leaderboard, with Japan's Karen Polle taking home third on With Wings, while Laura Kraut and Deauville S rounded out the top three.
"The National Horse Show has always been a big deal in the U.S.," smiled Farrington. "It's always great to win here. It was a fast jump off tonight. Laura Kraut put down an early winning time that I thought was going to be difficult to beat. Karen and her horse have really been on form lately. It's a fast horse; I thought she put in a great round. I had to work today to win some money. Willow was fantastic in the ring, and I couldn't have asked him to go better."
As the second rider to return, Kraut set the pace to beat at 41.22 seconds on Deauville S, owned by Old Willow Farm. "I'm pleased with my horse," said Kraut. "He jumped really well. This is the first time I've ever shown him indoors so I wasn't really sure how he would be. He seems to be fine with it. I went early, and I was slow I felt from one back to two. I knew I was going to be caught. I was just happy to end up third and not sixth."
Although the first round course for Thursday night's event featured a few technical aspects with an oxer-vertical double combination and a vertical-vertical-oxer triple combination, the star studded field made light work of it, with 15 entries clearing Guilherme Jorge's track. Two of those opted not to return for the final tiebreaker, but speed was not in short supply for the 13 remaining athletes.
"I have to say, when I looked at the course list there were really, really good horses jumping tonight, and I did think that it looked soft when I walked it," commented Kraut. "There wasn't anything that was terribly scopey. The verticals weren't so big. I was a little bit surprised actually because it was a lot of money tonight. With the great group of horses and riders that are here, I thought [Jorge] could have been a little bit harder, but I'm certain Sunday will be difficult."
Farrington added, "I thought the time allowed was a bit generous. That was also something that could have been adjusted. You end up with 15 clear in a class like that - that's a big jump-off for a class of that money. I don't think that that was probably [Jorge's] ideal plan in mind when he built it."
Athletes who were clear but over the 42 second mark would be nudged out of the top spots as Ali Wolff on Brianda, Georgina Bloomberg on Caleno and Ireland's Shane Sweetnam on Chauqui Z finished sixth, seventh and eighth respectively. Two entries from Belgium managed to tie for the fourth place award with matching faultless rounds. Jos Verlooy on Sunshine and Olivier Philippaerts on H&M Challenge VD Begijakker each broke the beam 41.47 seconds.
Karen Polle and With Wings managed to best Kraut's time by just 1/10th of second, breaking the beam at 41.12 seconds to take over the lead. "Kent is so fast," admitted Polle. "To be second to him is almost like winning. I've had With Wings for five years now. The first time I sat on him I just knew that he was a special horse, and I knew that he was the horse for me. Obviously you never quite know, but I had a really good feeling when I bought him."
The best was yet to come though, and Farrington proved why Willow consistently tops speed and grand prix events alike. The duos quick gallop across the course never let up, and turning back easily over each obstacle the dashed across the finish line in 40.24 seconds to lead the victory gallop at the end of the night, while Polle and Kraut finished second and third, respectively.
"Willow's got a great gallop, and he has a massive stride," noted Farrington. "You can kind of see once he gets going, he really opens up. He's attacking the ground all the way around the course. He can turn very short back on fences."
For more information about the CP National Horse Show, please visit www.nhs.org.
RESULTS: $130,000 CP Grand Prix
1. 288 Willow Farrington, Kent USA 0 penalties 40.24 sec
2. 480 With Wings Polle, Karen JPN 0 penalties 41.12 sec
3. 259 Deauville S Kraut, Laura USA 0 penalties 41.22 sec
4. 573 Sunshine Verlooy, Jos BEL 0 penalties 41.47 sec
4. 577 H&M Challenge vd Begijnakker Philippaerts, Olivier BEL 0 penalties 41.47 sec
6. 305 Brianda Wolff, Ali USA 0 penalties 42.58 sec
7. 281 Caleno Bloomberg, Georgina USA 0 penalties 43.04 sec
8. 261 Chaqui Z Sweetnam, Shane IRL 0 penalties 44.17 sec
9. 308 Cafino Colvin, Victoria USA 4 penalties 40.43 sec
10. 478 Woklahoma Teran Tafur, Roberto COL 4 penalties 43.24 sec
11. 285 Centurion B Goldman, Lisa USA 4 penalties 44.51 sec
12. 283 HH Azur Ward, McLain USA 4 penalties 45.83 sec