Kent Farrington is number one in the world, and was number one in Tryon on Saturday night when he and the exemplary Gazelle laid down the gauntlet win the Rolex Grand Prix and the lion’s share of $380,000.
They won the jump-off with a spectacular twist from 4ab to a hairpin turn to 5 that no one could replicate, and Gazelle showed incredible adjustability throughout to save time and strides from start to finish.
“Gazelle is a very experienced horse, so I think that I have the advantage that she’s been around the world and seen a lot of things,” said Kent after their win. “They’d have to build something crazy that she hasn’t seen before. The ring rides smaller than it looks. The jumps come up fast and with a lot of people I think it’s more difficult for the horses than you would expect when you first walk the course. I think it was an excellent course, and Olaf (Petersen, Jr.) is a very good builder. I expected five clear, and we ended up with three, so I thought it was a stronger course for a bigger money class, which was appropriate for today.”
It was yet one more remarkable notch in the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare’s belt of career-highs and stunning performances, and Kent can’t help but glow about her when given the opportunity.
“She’s a very sweet horse at home. She likes everybody and she likes attention, but in the ring she’s an unbelievable competitor,” he explained. “I don’t know how many Grand Prix classes she’s won this year, but I always can count on her and when she’s in the jump-off I can really call on her and take big risks. She’s incredibly careful, so I’m not worried about the jumps, but try to not make any mistakes and stay out of her way.”
See their full jump-off round below:
The 21-year-old Eugenio Garza of Mexico put in a spectacular first round and jump-off aboard his longtime partner Bariano, a 16-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, to take reserve honors in the class. They were just slightly more than half a second behind Kent and Gazelle.
“Bariano has been my longtime partner for forever,” said Eugenio. “I did the Children’s Jumpers with him, so obviously it’s very nice to have a horse you can grow up with. This week we really took it day by day since he is a little bit older and the CSI 5* is not in his comfort zone.”
“He’s such an amazing horse, and has so much heart. I think he showed that tonight. He tried really hard and when we went clear it was an absolutely unbelievable feeling. Then we just hoped there weren’t as many clear,” he laughed. “The course was great, and I really did have a blast. I couldn’t have hoped for anything more from him or my team.”
Richie Moloney and Carrabis Z were right on track to at least take the runner-up position, but had a heartbreaking final fence down, but which ultimately only cost them one placing.
“It’s always nice to see riders go beforehand, and where most riders did five strides from fence three to four, I did six, and that was my plan from the start,” said Richie. “It always helps to go later. In the jump-off, Kent is always very quick, so we tried to catch him, but not today.”
For his win, Kent scored himself a lovely check as well as a Rolex Watch from the event’s title sponsor. It is neither Kent’s first nor probably his last timekeeper won for being brilliant against the clock.
Margie Engle was the highest placed lady rider as the fastest of the four-fault rounds aboard her inestimable partner Royce, which earned her the FEI Leading Lady Jumper award, and Kent’s groom Denise Moriarty won the Absorbine FEI Groom’s Award for her magnificent care of turnout of Gazelle.