For the second year in a row, the current World #1 rider from the United States, Kent Farrington jumped to the gold medal in this afternoon’s ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows. This prestigious grand prix, inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth in 1990, has become a momentus event that every show jumping athlete aspires to one day claim victory. For Farrington, the dream has come to fruition not twice but now three times in his incredible career. Riding the amazingly fast and athletic mare Gazelle, owned by both Kent Farrington and Robin Parsky, the level of competition was brought to an outstanding high after a challenging first round brought back the top 12 placed riders each of notable talent, representing eight different nations.
“Today was a very nice course set by Santiago as he usually does and I believe these two round grand prix’s are usually built with the first round as a qualifier to the second – then the second he’ll turn the screws a little tighter, the jumps are bigger and the time is quite short so it definitely puts more pressure on the riders. I think you saw the quality of the field today with Lamaze, Weishaupt and myself on the horse that won last year in the final throws,” said Farrington following the win. “To have the win here on the final week of the Summer Series, on a two-round grand prix with top prize money, I am just thrilled with the horse today.”
The first athlete to set the pace for the jump off was Philipp Wieshaupt of Germany aboard LB Convall, a 10 year-old Holstein Stallion owned by Ludger Beerbaum Stables. Wieshaupt maneuvered the jump off course as fast as he could in hopes to put the pressure on Canadian great Eric Lamaze and Farrington, two athletes known for their speed. Weishaupt commented, “having these two athletes behind you, I could not take any chances with my track, my horse is naturally slower, so I tried to put on as much pressure to encourage a mistake, but unfortunately I was the one with the mistake.” He continued, “ after the first two rounds I could feel my horse getting tired and I needed to give him a little bit more room to fence three, so it was absolutely my error. But I was second with a rail and I fell I would have still been second on a clear round so I am super happy with my horse.”
Ending with the Bronze medal around his neck was Eric Lamaze(CAN) aboard Fine Lady 5, a 14 year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines. With the slightest toe touch on fence number two, Eric would end up with a four fault score in the jump off with a time just 0.34 seconds behind Weishaupt.
“From going last in the second round to having just the three horse jump off there was a very quick change – so I felt like a ran out of horse a little bit because she was still catching her breath from the second round. I didn’t see Kent or Philipp go but I knew I couldn’t hold back on anything – so I did the 8 strides down the first line and have the unlucky rail. I didn’t know how fast Philipp had gone and I just didn’t have enough – but I’m absolutely thrilled with the horse,” said the Canadian star. Not all was lost for Eric as he made Spruce Meadows history with this placing in the Grand Prix as the first ever athlete to reach the $5million dollar milestone on the Top 20 All Time Prize Money Winnings tally. Eric had this to say about the milestone, “I’ve had a lot of great horses who’ve brought me great wins but I know I owe a lot of this to Hickstead. Spruce Meadows has been very good to me and my career and I think this is a big honour and I’m incredibly happy to have that title.”