Farrington and his Blue Angel fly to victory in MAG-JLT Small Grand Prix

RELEASE: May 24, 2014

Rome, Italy- Kent Farrington, the only American rider at Piazza di Siena this year, galloped to victory with Blue Angel in the Premio MAG-JLT Small Grand Prix this afternoon and now has his sights firmly set on securing the new D’Inzeo Brothers Trophy tomorrow afternoon.Kent Farrington and Blue Angel (Courtesy of Piazza Di Siena)

Uliano Vezzani’s track produced only eight first-round clears from a starting field of 63, partly due to a very tight time-allowed of 78 seconds.  The jump-off line-up was world-class however, led by Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum and his 10-year-old stallion Zinedine who set the target in 41.67 seconds.

The Netherlands’ Jur Vrieling was next to go with Zavall VDL and his time of 41.49 left him out in front when Italy’s Massimiliano and Loro Piana Acamar hit the second fence, and Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer and Quidam du Vivier dislodged the final vertical.

Fifth to go, 24-year-old Alexander Zetterman from Sweden lit up the scoreboard however when scorching home with Cafino in 40.75 seconds and this target-time looked like it might not be beaten when The Netherlands’ Gerco Schroder and Cognac Champblanc posted a clear in 42.99 and Italy’s Piergiorgio Bucci, up on time coming to the last with Catwalk Z, couldn’t manage his speed and left it on the sand.

Now only Farrington stood between Zetterman and victory, but anyone who knows the American’s judgment against the clock knew very well that he could oust the young Swede from pole position.

“I knew it was going to be a fast jump-off with a group of riders like that, but I had the advantage of going last.  My horse wants to win, even without any help from me, my job is to put her in the right place and leave her to get on with her job” Farrington said afterwards, and that’s exactly what he did.  He took no chances down the first distance from the opening vertical to the following oxer, but his turn-back to the following double was perfection and from there the result never really looked in doubt.  Blue Angel’s ability to run and jump at speed is legendary on the US circuit, and the 12-year-old mare cruised across the finish line in 39.81 seconds to clinch it by almost a second.

Talking about the course, 33-year-old Farrington said afterwards, “there was a tight time-allowed and that cost a lot of mistakes.  The course was really technical with three doubles and no combination.  In the jump-off I was lucky, because when you go at the end you know exactly what you have to do.”

Talking about his presence at Piazza di Siena, the Florida-based rider explained, “this year I have put together my own group of shows - the GCTs and I love it here in Rome, it is one of the old classic showjumping events in the world.  I’m doing a mini-trip, going from show to show and, in between shows, basing myself in Holland and Belgium”
And talking about his win today he commented, “Blue Angel is a naturally fast horse and I’m a pretty fast rider!  My job is to make sure she leaves all the fences up and not to overdo it. I”m very competitive, and that’s my battle - I have to remember just to win the class, and not blister it!  I have to have the confidence to know when I have done enough.  Today I thought I would be pretty fast, I was reasonably sure I’d have it.  Between the first two fences I didn’t try to take a stride out because I know my mare, and if I’m riding down to an oxer with a roll-back (to the next fence) I’m better adding (a stride) to the oxer because I know where else I can pick up time, like on the turns” he said.

He has now placed himself firmly in contention for the new D’Inzeo Brothers Trophy which will be awarded to the rider picking up most points from both today’s Premio MAG-JLT Small Grand Prix and tomorrow’s feature event, the Loro Piana Grand Prix of Rome.  “I didn’t know anything about the new trophy until now” Farrington said after his win this afternoon, “but tomorrow in the Grand Prix I’ll be trying to go for it for sure!”

The home riders have been out of luck today so far, with Canada’s Eric Lamaze steering the 11-year-old grey mare, Cesanna, to win the Landrover Winning Round earlier this morning.  From a starting field of 38 there were eight into the second-round jump-off and, like Farrington this afternoon, Lamaze had the advantage of a last-to-go run, snatching victory when shaving a full second off the target set by Germany’s Daniel Deusser and Air Pia VZ who had to settle for runner-up spot ahead of The Netherlands’ Gerco Schroder and Zamora.

Interestingly five mares finished in the top six in this competition, Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander filling fifth spot with the nine year-old Fair Light van T Heike and Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer slotting into sixth with the eight-year-old Sixtine de Vains.