The biggest prize money purse on offer at the ‘National’ Tournament was in the$400,000 CN Reliability Grand Prix, CSI-W 5*, and it was Kent Farrington (USA) who took home the winner’s share for the second year in a row with Uceko. Reed Kessler (USA) Cylana finished second, while Charlie Jacobs (USA) and Flaming Star were third.
There were 36 entries in the grand prix, but only four were able to clear the first round course set by Werner Deeg of Germany. Fifth place went to Kirsten Coe (USA) and Baronez, who had two time faults.
First to return in the jump-off was Eric Navet of France on Quanto Fino 2, a 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Quick Star x Stutbuch 1 owned by Signe Ostby. They had an unfortunate rail at fence 10b and finished with four faults in 54.99 seconds for fourth place.
The next three riders would all be clear and the winning time fell with each start. Charlie Jacobs and Flaming Star, a 14-year-old Swiss Warmblood gelding by Fairman owned by CMJ Sporthorse LLC, would put in a neat clear round in 53.62 seconds, which slotted them in third place.
Jacobs was “extremely pleased” with his horse. “Flaming Star I thought was fantastic today,” he acknowledged. “For me, this is great for him to come and jump a 1.60m class. This is our second time ever in Spruce Meadows (together). We came briefly in 2011 and jumped in some amateur classes. He was great today. My hats off to these two to my right (Reed and Kent), but I think it was lights out for him. I could have pushed the gas a little more, frankly. With the times that these two put in, I could have gone a lot faster.”
Reed Kessler and her Olympic partner Cylana were next in, and they galloped through the timers in 50.05 seconds. They would have to wait and see what the final rider would do.
Kessler said she couldn’t rest easy knowing Farrington still had to go after her. “Definitely not, I knew Kent would come, he would be clean, and he would be really fast,” she agreed. “I just tried to go as fast as I could without making any silly mistakes. I’ve made that mistake of having the vertical down into the combination a couple times with her, like at World Cup Finals, so I maybe took an extra stride than he did there. I could have been sharper down the last line. Watching Kent in those two places, that’s definitely where I think he got me.”
Cylana and Kessler competed at the FEI World Cup Finals in April, and Cylana, a 2002 Belgian Warmblood mare by Skippy II x Darco, had not shown since then until earlier this week. “She was really begging to jump this week,” Kessler said with a smile. “She’s one of those horses that if she doesn’t jump frequently, she’s miserable. She was very happy that it was as massive as it was today; she likes to work hard. She couldn’t have gone much better.”
Entering the ring as reigning champions of the competition, Farrington and Uceko, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Celano x Koriander owned by RCG Farm, picked up a quick pace going to the first jump and never looked back. They had to stretch over a wide oxer halfway through the course, and then went flat out across the ring in the long run to the last two fences. Their speed paid off as they stopped the clock in 48.73 seconds for victory.
Farrington said that Uceko is at his best when he’s fresh and has a lot of energy. Although he stands under 16 hands, Farrington said he rides like a “very large horse.” He described, “He actually goes best in big venues like here. He has a massive stride and he’s probably the smallest horse in the class, but he has the biggest stride. He’s pretty unique like that. He has exceptionally long legs for his body. I think that’s why his gallop is so big.”
Farrington was very happy with his win on Uceko, a reliable, successful partner of his for years. “Right now in his career, he’s basically learned everything there is to learn. Now it’s my job as a rider and a horseman to manage his career, to pick the right venues and the right classes to aim him towards so I can make his career last as long as possible. With as much money as there is now in the sport, it’s a matter of managing horses so that they can be at their best when it counts,” he said.
$400,000 CN Reliability Grand Prix CSI-W 5*
1. UCEKO: 2001 KWPN gelding by Celano x Koriander
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), RCG Farm: 0/0/48.73
2. CYLANA: 2002 Belgian Warmblood mare by Skippy II x Darco
REED KESSLER (USA), Reed Kessler: 0/0/50.06
3. FLAMING STAR: 1999 AES gelding by Fairman x Unknown
CHARLIE JACOBS (USA), CMJ Sporthorse LLC: 0/0/53.62
4. QUANTO FINO 2: 2003 Oldenburg gelding by Quick Star x Stutbuch 1
ERIC NAVET (FRA), Signe Ostby: 0/4/54.99
5. BARONEZ: 2001 Warmblood mare by Heartbreaker x Unknown
KIRSTEN COE (USA), Ilan Ferder & Kirsten Coe: 2/102.41
6. NOUGAT DU VALLET: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Scherif D’elle
KATHERINE DINAN (USA), Grant Road Partners: 4/93.12
7. WISTFUL: 2003 Dutch Warmblood mare by Grand Star x Polydor
ASHLEE BOND (USA), Little Valley Farm: 4/93.20
8. POLINSKA DES ISLES: 2003 Selle Francais mare by Diamant de Semilly x Valespoir Malabry
FRANCOIS MATHY (BEL), Team Harmony & Francois Mathy: 4/94.37
9. V: 2002 KWPN gelding by Landstreicher x Lennard
KATIE PRUDENT (USA), Michael Smith: 4/94.47
10. ROMANTOVICH TAKE ONE: 2000 KWPN gelding by Numero Uno x Karandasj
CHRISTINE MCCREA (USA), Candy Tribble: 4/94.83