Calgary, AB, Canada – The 2015 Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament CSIO 5* got underway on Wednesday celebrating 40 years of outstanding competition at one of the world’s most iconic venues. Top international horses and riders convened for opening day, which featured wins for Kent Farrington (USA) and Uceko in the $85,000 AKITA Drilling Cup 1.60m.
The ‘Masters’ Tournament features five days of comeptition through Sunday, September 13, with highlights including Saturday’s $300,000 BMO Nations’ Cup and Sunday’s $1.5 Million CP International, presented by Rolex. One of the most prestigious grand prix events in the world, the CP International is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, where Scott Brash (GBR) will attempt to become the first rider to ever take the Grand Slam title. Brash already made history by winning two consecutive legs of the challenge with victories at CHI Geneva in December followed by a second victory at CHIO Aachen a few months later. An unprecedented €1 million in bonus money is on offer to any rider who can win all three grand prix events in succession.
Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios is the course designer in Spruce Meadows’ famed International Ring for this week’s tournament. Palacios began competition on Wednesday with two fantastic events highlighted by a win for Kent Farrington and RCG Farm’s Uceko in the $85,000 AKITA Drilling Cup. Thirty-seven entries jumped in round one, with a star studded jump-off of 17 to follow and seven double clear rounds.
In the jump-off, Richard Spooner (USA) and Show Jumping Syndication Intl.’s Cristallo set the early pace in 39.81 seconds to eventually finish fourth. Kevin Staut (FRA) upped the pace with his round in 39.75 seconds to take home third place honors aboard Haras des Coudrettes’ Elky van het Indihof HDC. Farrington and Uceko soon stole the lead in an impressive 38.62 seconds to hold on for the win. Last to go, Roger Yves Bost (FRA) jumped into second place with a time of 38.99 seconds aboard Quod’Coeur de la Loge, owned by Equiblue et Bosty Jump.
Following his win, Farrington spoke of the exciting atmosphere and fantastic conditions starting off this year’s event. “The level of competition here is always very high, particularly at the Masters,” Farrington stated. “These are the best riders in the world using their best horses, so there is no easy victory here. The conditions are fantastic. The field looks great and it is jumping great. That is nothing new here at Spruce Meadows. I think this is one of the best jumping fields in the world and today was as good as ever. My horse loves it here too, so that works out well for me. I always try to make a good schedule for him where he gets to compete a lot at Spruce Meadows.”
A 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Celano x Koriander), Uceko is very experienced and Farrington knows that the spacious field of the International Ring is one of his favorite venues. “The course today was not super technical,” Farrington said of the competition. “I think it was bigger fences, but a simpler course to get everybody going here the first day. There were a lot of horses in the jump-off, so you knew that it was going to be very fast. Richard Spooner and Bosty, those are some of the fastest riders anyplace, so the jump-off was quite fast. My horse is also typically very fast on a field, so I think if you looked at those top four horses, you know that it was going to be very competitive today.”
Speaking of where he made the time, Farrington added, “I think it was probably throughout the whole course, not necessarily in one line. I think the top few horses all did the same number of strides in the last line. I was very fast to the double across the middle of the ring, and Uceko is very experienced here, so I can turn quite short to the fences. I think I turned really short back on the skinny vertical and also to the second fence.”
After winning the CSIO 5* grand prix at the Dublin Horse Show in August, Farrington is already pre-qualified for Sunday’s $1.5 Million CP International Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, but plans to compete his other top mount, Voyeur. The CP International is one of the only major events that Farrington has yet to win in his inspiring career, and the rider admits that it is definitely on his To-Do list.
“I think every rider in the world would love to win that competition here. The Masters in Calgary is very special. It is the biggest prize money that we jump for all year and the courses are always massive, so I think that is something that we would all like to have on our resume,” Farrington concluded.
For a complete tournament schedule and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Final Results: $85,000 AKITA Drilling Cup 1.60m
1. $28,050 UCEKO Dutch Warmblood / G / 14 Celano x Koriander KENT FARRINGTON (USA) WELLINGTON, FL RCG Farm: 0/0/38.62
2. $17,000 QUOD’COEUR DE LA LOGE Selle Francais / S / 11 Ideal de la Lodge x Tenor de la Cour ROGER-YVES BOST (FRA) BARBIZON Equiblue et Bosty Jump: 0/0/38.99
3. $12,750 ELKY VAN HET INDIHOF HDC Belgian Warmblood / M / 11 Toulon x Thunder van de Zuuthoeve KEVIN STAUT (FRA) LE CHESNAY Haras des Coudrettes: 0/0/39.75
4. $8,500 CRISTALLO Holstein / G / 17 Caretino x Cicero RICHARD SPOONER (USA) AGUA DULCE, CA Show Jumping Syndication Intl: 0/0/39.81
5. $5,100 RADJA DARTEMIS Selle Francais / G / 10 Diamant de Semilly x Galoubet A ALAIN JUFER (SUI) LOSSY Lutta Gian-Battista: 0/0/42.80
6. $3,825 GLENAVADRA BRILLIANT Irish Sport Horse / G / 12 Brilliant Lad x Powerswood Purple WILLIAM WHITAKER (GBR) HUDDERSFIELD Ian Whitaker: 0/0/44.34
7. $2,550 CAPETOWN Dutch Warmblood / G / 12 Oklund x Carlino WOUT JAN VAN DER SCHANS (NED) LUNTEREN, HP K.V. van den Berg & S.J. Kat: 0/0/45.32
8. $2,125 HELLO SANCTOS Warmblood / G / 13 Quasimodo x Nabe de Reve SCOTT BRASH (GBR) GREAT BRITAIN Lord and Lady Harris & Lady P Kirkham: 0/1/48.32
9. $1,700 OTELLO DU SOLEIL Selle Francais / S / 13 Alligator Fontaine x Papillon Rouge ROMAIN DUGUET (SUI) BERN Christiana Duguet: 0/4/39.20
10. $1,700 DYLANO Warmblood / G / 14 Cento Lano x Athlet Z PIETER DEVOS (BEL) BEKKEVOORT Devos Stables: 0/4/40.69
11. $850 ELDORADO TN Belgian Warmblood / S / 11 Clinton x Toulon WILLEM GREVE (NED) MARKELO Team Nijhof: 0/4/41.86
12. $850 EMILIE DE DIAMANT AS Belgian Sport Horse / M / 11 Diamant de Semilly x Flipper d Elle JACK HARDIN TOWELL JR. (USA) CAMDEN, SC Jennifer Gates: 0/4/42.59