Tampa, FL - March 29, 2009- Never before in the history of the Grand Prix of Tampa has there been a tie for winner, but today that all changed. Today riders competed in the Covered Arena at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center located on the Florida State Fairgrounds, and both Darragh Kerins riding Night Train, owned by Double H Farms, and Kent Farrington riding Up Chiqui, owned by Alex Boone, Craig Dobbs and Kent Farrington, emerged victorious after the $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa, when both pairs completed clear jump-off rounds and crossed the finished line in the exact same time, 32.63 seconds.
Today's grand prix was the final FEI World Cup Qualifier for the Rolex FEI World Cup finals in Las Vegas and Pierre Jolicouer designed a very technically difficult course that tested all 45 riders that competed. The most difficult parts of the course included fence 5, a deceptive triple combination, fence 10 to fence 11, a liverpool bending line to a large vertical, followed by a tight turn to fence 12, a delicate plank vertical, and finally fences 13 "a" and "b", an oxer to oxer double combination going towards the end of the ring. The triple combination's middle element, a large oxer, and the last oxer of the final double combination, was where many riders found faults and lost their bid to the jump-off.
"I didn't think that the course was going to be as difficult as it turned out to be when I walked it," noted Kerins, one of only four riders who was able to complete the first round without fault. "I think I was definitely at an advantage to go late in the class and to study other people's mistakes. I think you had to be patient into the triple combination. A lot of horses were getting on top of "b" and having the back rail, but I was just a little bit quieter into the combination."
"The last double combination walked a normal seven strides, but there were people doing seven and eight strides, and it was just causing a lot of difficulty. You had to hit it right on; it was set at a funny angle," explained Kerins.
Farrington added, "It was an oxer-to-oxer one stride which always rides scopey. It was also at the end of the course going into the corner of the ring. Whenever something is set into the end of the ring like that the horses will naturally hold back a little bit when they jump, making the distance much farther away."
It was 17 rounds before Christine McCrea and Promised Land, owned by Candy Tribble and Windsor Show Stables, managed to be the first pair to complete a clear first round. The pair had a hard rub at fence 5a and fence 11 that had the crowd holding their breath, but the fences stayed up and she took over first place. McCrea held the lead for nine more rounds before McLain Ward and Phillipa, owned by Sagamore Farms, stepped up to challenge by completing the second fault-free round and assuring the crowd of a jump-off. Up Chiqui and Farrington were one of the last six rounds of the class and also completed a clear first round despite a great deal of bucking throughout the course on the part of Up Chiqui, who came into the ring feeling fresh. Darragh Kerins and Night Train were the last entry to leave all the jumps standing. The crowd cheered as he had a long approach to the final combination and still made it across the final oxer without bringing down any rails.
The crowd was prepared for a very exciting jump-off, knowing that the four participants would be trying their best and going all out to win today's class. Promised Land and McCrea entered the ring first, setting a very high standard when they managed to leave all the rails in their cups and crossed the finish line in a fast 33.25 seconds to eventually earn the third place ribbon. Ward and Phillipa were next and came into the ring with a plan, but in an attempt to make a very tight inside turn the pair had a rail down at fence 7, a tall vertical. They tripped the timers in 31.69 seconds, the fastest time of the day, but their four fault score landed them in the fourth place position. Up Chiqui and Farrington stepped into the ring next and this time Up Chiqui was focused on the job at hand. The naturally fast horse was clear in a time 32.63 seconds without taking the inside turn but managed to takeover the lead. Kerins knew he would need to take the inside turn with Night Train and be clear to win the class, but despite his best efforts a slight bobble meant that he would not be able to make up the time. The pair stopped the clock at 32.63 seconds, the exact same time as Farrington and Up Chiqui, creating a tie for first place.
"It is great, we're both thrilled with how our horses went " smiled Farrington. "These two horses compete against each other a lot and kind of battle back and forth. They're both similar types, fast and careful, so when they're both in a jump-off it's always exciting."
Kerins has qualified for the Rolex FEI World Cup Finals and will be representing Ireland with Night Train during this year's event. After today's win Farrington became the leader of the East Coast World Cup standings. He will be representing the East Coast along with McLain Ward, Christine McCrea, Todd Minikus, Hillary Dobbs, Beezie Madden and Michelle Spadone.
The Tampa Equestrian Festival will continue next week with its third and final week of competition, the Tournament of Champions. The first major event next week will be the $35,000 Grand Prix of Florida CSI on Wednesday, April 1, the final qualifier for the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational. The grand finale of the Tampa Equestrian Festival is the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, which will be held Saturday, April 4, beginning at 7 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium. This event features the world's top equestrians competing for one of the richest purses during one of show jumping's most historical events.
For more information please visit http://www.stadiumjumping.com
Photo Credit: Darragh Kerins and Night Train, and Kent Farrington and Up Chiqui will both receive a championship cooler after their historical tie during the jump-off of the $75,000 Grand Prix of Tampa. Photo © Randi Muster. Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/darragh-kerins-kent-farrington-03-09.html">Darragh Kerins and Night Train Tie with Kent Farrington and Up Chiqui for the Win</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com