WELLINGTON, Fla.--Kent Farrington on Greya won the $50,000 National Grand Prix Saturday evening, Jan. 21 at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
Beating the field of 44 in a time of 37.756 seconds over a course designed by Catsy Cruz of Mexico, Farrington, a U.S. Olympic team silver medalist currently ranked 18th on the FEI world rankings, won despite having to go first in the jump-off.
“It’s Greya’s first time jumping under the lights,” said Farrington. “So, I tried to just work out of her normal gallop which is already pretty quick. Luckily, it worked out tonight, and I thought she was incredible.”
“The last year has been a rebuilding time for my string as some of my main horses are winding down their international careers,” he said. “It’s time for the young ones to step up; I have a group of horses – the oldest being 10 – that are starting to jump in the international scene and I’m excited to see what happens with each of them.”
Greya, 9, is among the promising young horses in that string.
“She’s a very special horse and I thought she jumped very well tonight,” he said. “She’s an opinionated mare; she has her own ideas but those are my favorite horses because I think in the end they are the best. When you can train the horse to work with you and use all of their energy to go in the right direction it can be great.”
Ben Maher of Great Britain on the 9-year-old Enjeu De Grisien finished second a full second behind Farrington, clean in 38.835 seconds, and Jos Verlooy of Belgium was third on the 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion Nixon Van’t Muelenhof.
LUIZ FRANCISCO DE AZEVEDO of Brazil on Collin won in international competition on the grass field during the afternoon.
A starting field of 29 pairs competed in the CHF37,000 ($40,000) 1.50m Classic over a course set by Oscar Soberon, with eight advancing to the jump-off.
Francisco de Azevedo won with a jump-off time of 41.09 seconds.
Max Wachman of Ireland on Quintini was second, clean in 41.98 seconds, and Maher was third on the 20-year-old Tic Tac in a time of 42.04 seconds.
“He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse,” said Francisco de Azevedo of Collin, a mount he’s had for 10 years. “We rescued him from a devastating situation, so I’m really proud to share this story because he’s one in a million. A friend of mine, Didier Jackmen, is an equine dentist in Belgium and he called me about the horse which was about to be sent to slaughter."
“He was really difficult to ride, but the only thing I was trying to do was give him the chance to show his confidence,” said Francisco de Azevedo. “With a lot of patience, we learned that he needs as much paddock time as we can give him and to only jump at the show. He knows when it’s go time!”
“In this kind of competition, the plan is to use the horse’s speed, otherwise you don’t even need to go to the jump-off,” joked Francisco de Azevedo.
“He’s super intelligent, he knows he’s mine forever and now he’s like part of the family," he said.”
Also in international competition, Natalie Dean won in the Under 25 Welcome class.
The CHF10,000 ($10,800) Under 25 Welcome class had a big field of 79 competitors.
Natalie Dean on Dotcom D’Authuit, won the one round speed class with a time of 64.04 seconds.
Second place went to Eden Leprevost Blinlebreton of France on Go With The Flow, clean in 64.55 seconds, and Sam Walker of Canada on Evita was third in 65.18 seconds.
“I think this division is an amazing division for both younger riders and also for younger horses,” Dean said. “I tend to use it for a lot of my 8- and 9-year-olds and really move them up throughout WEF. It gets you in the grass, in the little ring, under the lights, and it gives those horses experience. I think it’s a really useful division and I’m happy I’m still young enough to do it.”
“I’ve had Dotcom since she was 7, so for around three years now," she said. "She’s an amazing horse; so careful, brave and really fast. I know in these classes I don’t have to necessarily run her off her feet; I can just go smooth and she can be pretty competitive."
“I love this grass field,” said Dean. “It’s my favorite grass ring anywhere in the world.”