Winning twice during the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ is not easily accomplished, but top American rider Kent Farrington showed speed was the key in the $125,000 Suncor Winning Round 1.50m. He and Blue Angel, an 11-year-old AES mare by Luidam x Ascendent owned by Robin Parsky, returned second to last in the second round. The top eight from the first round came back with a clean slate, and it was Farrington’s ride of 44.26 seconds that secured victory.

While the weather may have been unforgiving, the footing in the International Ring held up well, Farrington said. “I don’t think the ground was that bad, more just uncomfortable. It’s cold and wet, and the ground splashes a little bit. They’ve invested a lot of money into the field here and there is a great base underneath,” he remarked. “Even if it rains a lot, the (horses) still jump pretty good.”

Since speed was the name of the game, Farrington felt he had a bit of an edge. He said, “She’s naturally very fast and she’s a brave horse. She’s competitive all on her own. It’s a matter of trying not to make too many errors and sticking to my plan. She’s naturally fast by herself and I’m a naturally fast rider. It’s a good combination.”

Setting the early pace and slotting into second place was crowd favorite Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Quelmec du Gery, who stopped the clock in 44.41 seconds. Ian Millar (CAN) and Star Power were third in 44.56 seconds.

Lamaze had to move down in the original first round order when Quelmec du Gery pulled a shoe in the warm-up. With the shoe back on and with bell boots, he jumped around well with an incredible hind end clearance at each jump.

Lamaze pointed out, “I used a back pair of boots on him today, which I haven’t used [before]. When I had the skinny down with his back end (earlier in the week), I thought I’d try it. (Former owner) Penelope [Leprevost] said she put these boots on once in awhile to really kick his hind end into gear, but told me to be careful because he really reacts. But I like a horse that reacts like that!”

Having only ridden Quelmec du Gery since June, Lamaze has not had a lot of opportunities to push for speed. “The jump-off — I mean, you have Kent and Ben in the back (behind you),” said Lamaze with a smile. “I’ve never gone fast, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it’s $125,000, we’re at the ‘Masters’, let’s learn what he can do. I think he’s going to be a very fast horse actually. He’s very handy to go fast with, it doesn’t matter how fast you get to a fence, he slows up to jump it. I was thrilled.”