Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 31, 2021 – Top showjumping talent flocked to the International Ring Sunday afternoon for the highlight event of Week Three of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). A roster of 45 horse and rider pairs contested Peter Grant’s (CAN) 1.50m 17-effort initial course, with a total of 12 partnerships earning their spot in the jump-off. With a tiebreaking track well suited for speedier horses, Kent Farrington (USA) and his notoriously nimble partner Austria 2 claimed their second win of the week in Sunday’s $137,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI3* Grand Prix.
Live stream viewers enjoyed commentary by Steven Wilde and Lauren Hough as riders navigated their way around both phases of competition. Fourth in the order of go, Roberto Teran Tafur (COL) was the first to pilot his entry, Dez Ooktoff, to a qualifying round for the jump-off. Ten rounds would pass before the next rider, Eliza Lehrman (USA), would add her name to the list riding Five Way Farm LLC’s entry Eluna CL Z, guaranteeing viewers an international showdown for the top prize later in the day.
Time proved to not be an issue as competitors worked their way through the first course, but several rails hit the sand as the afternoon went on. Joining Tafur and Lehrman for the jump-off were Adrienne Sternlicht (USA), Spencer Smith (USA), Schuyler Riley (USA), Cian O’Connor (IRL), Nicola Phllippaerts (BEL), Farrington, Margie Engle (USA), Laura Kraut (USA), Paul O’Shea (IRL) and McLain Ward (USA),
Grant’s shortened eight-effort track required riders to put the pedal to the metal with plenty of room to gallop between the lines. Featuring a lineup of riders with top-notch resumes, the remaining competitors knew they had to be quick and clean to bring home the lion’s share of the prize. Unfortunately, several riders fell victim to the pace required and saw rails fall down behind them. Young rider Smith would pave the way for a clear track as the fourth to enter the ring riding Ransome Rombaeur’s Ayade Hero Z. Tripping the timers at 39.95 seconds, Smith was quick from the start, proving that a clear round could be issued under the 40-second mark.
O’Connor added his name to the list of double clear rounds with his entry, Kilkenny, owned by Ronnoco Jump LTD, with a steady round of 43.95 seconds, leaving the door open for the following competitors to cruise their way to the top. Following O’Connor was Philippaerts and his own Katanga V/H Dingeshof who topped the Irishman’s time by just under a second with a final score of 42.49 seconds.
As Farrington and Austria 2 trotted through the in-gate, the commentators noted that he would be riding to win. The 13-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Take the High Road, LLC is known for being quick across the ground and in the air. The duo raced across the course, coming in just under Smith’s previous leading time by sailing past the timers at 39.14 seconds. With speed as the name of the game, the following competitors tried to combat Farrington’s leading time but watched as their dreams were dashed when rails tumbled to the ground. In the end, it was Farrington who led the victory gallop around the International Ring with Smith coming in second and Philippaerts taking home third place honors.
Competition for Week Four includes the $50,000 Adequan WEF Challenge Round 4 CSI4* and the $25,000 Hermes U25 Grand Prix Team Event on Friday, as well as the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. Saturday’s schedule features the fan-favorite Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments and Sunday boasts the $50,00 1.45m Grand Prix CSI2* and the $214,000 Marshall & Sterling/Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix CSI4*.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Kent Farrington – Winner of the $137,000 FEI NetJets Grand Prix CSI3*
On his plan for the jump-off:
“I choose not to count in very long lines. I like to ride off of what I feel the horse needs. [Austria 2] is a small horse so if you get running and jumping too long, too flat it flattens her out for the jump-off. For me, it is faster to run up and let the horse get their hocks underneath them, get more height, make a short turn and drop a stride out when I land. I think there are different styles for different horses, but that is what suited my horse today.”
On how Friday’s win and his first round today impacted his mentality going into the jump-off:
“I think often in those classes when you are riding a horse that you know is capable of winning, the danger always is that you beat yourself. I thought that Spencer put in a great round and my goal was to go in quick enough to hopefully nick his time and not overcook it where I am going two seconds faster than I need to and I wind up having one down towards the end. It’s a bit on the stamina of the horse to do a couple of rounds in a week like that, especially in the heat in Florida. So I was really just trying to do the best for her enough to win the class without taking it all out of the tank.”
Spencer Smith – $137,000 FEI NetJets Grand Prix CSI3* second place
On Ayade Hero Z:
“[Ayade Hero Z] is a nice mare who came from Eric Lamaze when I was working there. We bought her as a seven-year-old and sold her to [my student]. She has been taking [my student] up to the Highs and U25 classes and every once in a while I grab her back and get to jump a big class with her, so it’s nice.”
On how Ayade Hero Z impressed him today:
“She is a super mare. She is super game, I know if I am on her I can win. There were just a few places where I was off a bit today.”
Nicola Philippaerts – $137,000 FEI NetJets Grand Prix CSI3* third place
On Katanga V/H Dingeshof and his decision to compete in Wellington this season:
“I think, for the moment, there is not so much going on in Europe so we decided to come here for three months and see how the horses go. So far, [Katanga V/H Dingeshof] is going good and jumping good. The season is still very long, but I have been riding her for two-and-a-half years now and she is one of my best horses at the moment. She feels good enough that she can have a good season here.”
$137,000 FEI NetJets Grand Prix CSI3*
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / Country / R1 Time | R1 Faults / R2 Time | R2 Faults
- Austria 2 / Kent Farrington / Take The High Road, LLC / USA / 79.3 | 0 / 39.13 | 0
- Ayade Hero Z / Spencer Smith / Ransome Rombauer / USA / 80.55 | 0 / 39.95 | 0
- Katanga V/H Dingeshof / Nicola Philippaerts / Nicola Philippaerts / BEL / 80.19 | 0 / 42.48 | 0
- Kilkenny / Cian O’Connor / Ronnoco Jump LTD / IRL / 83.05 | 0 / 43.95 | 0
- Confu / Laura Kraut / St. Bride’s Farm / USA / 81.27 | 0 / 41.31 | 4
- Robin De Ponthual / Schuyler Riley / Katherine Gallagher / USA / 83.07 | 0 / 42.59 | 4
- Bennys Legacy / Adrienne Sternlicht / Starlight Farms 1 LLC / USA / 83.02 | 0 / 42.59 | 4
- Dez Ooktoff / Roberto Teran Tafur / Roberto Teran Tafur / COL / 82.84 | 0 / 42.92 | 4
- Dicas / Margie Engle / Storm Ridge Capital LLC, Garber & Gladewinds / USA / 79.42 | 0 / 43.20 | 4
- Skara Glen’s Chancellores / Paul O’Shea / Skara Glen Stables / IRL / 81.96 | 0 / 40.904 | 8
- Kasper Van Het Hellehof / McLain Ward / Poden Farms / USA / 80.24 | 0 / 44.75 | 8
- Eluna CL Z / Eliza Lehrman / Five Way Farm LLC / USA / 83.93 | 0 / 53.114 | 8