Green Cove Springs, FL –It was a star studded preview of this weekend’s exciting FEI World Cup Qualifier with 33 of the world’s best equine athletes looking to jump into the winners circle as well as landing a spot in Las Vegas for the 2009 finals. Kent Farrington, who divides his residence between Greenwich, CT in the summer and Wellington, FL during the winter, and crowd favorite Up Chiqui did not disappoint with a blazing victory in this evening’s $25,000 Welcome Jumper Classic sponsored by Jerry Parks Insurance.
Dave Ballard of Ontario, Canada returned as course designer for the FEI events. His resume includes being one of the few O Class designers in the world. The course for tonight was a one round speed layout of 12 obstacles at regulation 1.45M (maximum height 4’9”) with a time allowance of 80 seconds. Speed was clearly an important factor, but Ballard added some technical turns to truly test the field that included the number one rider in the world, 2008 Gold Medalist Eric Lamaze of Team Canada. The apparent trouble spot was the #4 skinny vertical- riders had a hard left turn off oxer #3 around a palm tree to the skinny set across from the end gate. “Coming early in the course that roll back away from the gate, and the horses first time being in the ring - not quite knowing where the next fence is, I think it came up fast and alot horses just weren’t sure.” Farrington said and added with a smile, “It was about what I expected for the Welcome. A lot of speed with some spooky elements. I think Dave got what he wanted out it.”
Up Chiqui, the coming 12 year-old Belgium bred gelding owned by Farrington may appear small in stature, standing a mere 16 hands, but according to Kent “has so much heart!” The praise and accolades for his partner flowed easily,“He’s just incredible. Just a spectacular horse-a born winner.” Kent made no qualms in referencing Up Chiqui’s slight build to the modern show jumpers with “thoroughbredy style” such as 2008 Olympic gold winner Hickstead or Beezie Madden’s popular Authentic. And just as thoroughbreds are said to have strong personalities, so too does Up. “Tons of it. He decides what he wants to do and when he wants to do it. You hope it’s on the days when it’s important.” laughed Kent as the chestnut seemed to grin in agreement before heading towards the barns.
The pair were 32nd of the 33 in the order of go this evening and well worth the wait with an amazing clear round time of 65.91 seconds, a mere .38 of a second quicker than the leader Eric Lamaze riding Narcotique De Muze II for owner Ashland Stables, whose time was 66.29. When asked how if felt to beat out the world’s top rider Kent said, “It’s always nice to win, but Eric’s a super rider. I’m thrilled for all the success he’s had. He’s [Eric] an inspiration.”
The pair will return for Saturday evening’s $100,000 CSI3*-W Grand Prix in the hopes of garnering more World Cup points. As for making the trip to Las Vegas for the finals Kent said the strategy has been “doing a round and coming back for a grand prix, letting him go fast and then getting his [Up Chiqui] mind back. It’s practice for him and practice for me to see if we’re in good form for the finals.” Kent is admittedly a competitive person, but his mount shares the same trait. Almost laughing Kent explained Up Chiqui’s mind set, “He wants to win every class he goes in and so it’s basically try not to ride like a monkey on his back.” The duo are actually quite disciplined and work hard at not just aiming for the big classes, but putting focus building their strengths and improving their weaknesses.
The official results for tonight’s $25,000 Welcome Classic were in second place Narcotique De Muze II ridden by Eric Lamaze for owner Ashland Stables with a clear round time of 66.29. Third place went to McLain Ward with Goldika 559 for owners Ward and Blue Chip Bloodstock in a clean 68.58 seconds. The fourth position went to Lauren Hough on board Quick Study for owners Meredith and Laura Mateo with a clear time of 70.40. And completing the top five was Carolyn Kelly aboard Rulanda for owner Lulu Equestrian Enterprises with clear time of 71.58. Among those presenting awards this evening were the president of the North Florida Hunter Jumper Association, Tony Weight who said of the evening “This is the most impressive field of riders and horses we’ve had the pleasure of hosting for this series. We’ve got the world’s finest –it just doesn’t get any better!”
The Jacksonville Winter Series continues through February 1st with classes Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 8AM until about 5PM except for special events on Saturday evenings such as tomorrow evening’s huge $100,000 Green Cove Springs CSI3*-W Grand Prix. Admission to the shows are free, a $5 donation is requested for special events, which in turn is given to various local charities.
For more information or results on the 2009 Jacksonville Winter Series please visit http://www.classiccompany.com
or call the show office at 904-284-1579.
Photo Credit: Kent Farrington & Up Chiqui win World Cup Welcome Classic ©Flashpoint Photography
*Photo only to be used in conjunction with this release
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/kent-farrington-green-cove-springs-classic-01-09.html">Kent Farrington & Up Chiqui Win $25,000 Green Cove Springs CSI Welcome Classic</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com