Back at Flintfields Horse Park for the final week of the six-week Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC, international contenders went head-to-head Thursday in the $36,600 CWD Welcome Stake CSI3*. A lofty field of 71 entries from ten countries, including Austria, Colombia, Ireland, Canada, Puerto Rico, Israel, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and the United States, galloped through the first round, with the field whittled to representatives from only four nations in the jump-off. Consistently one of the best in the world and living up to his reputation today, Kent Farrington (USA) sped through the finish line the fastest with the reins on his own Austria 2 to capture the top honors.
Contributing to the large number in the field was the fact that a few riders, including Teddy Vlock (ISR), Ashley Fleischhacker (USA), Nicholas Dello Joio (USA), Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Kristen Vanderveen (USA), increased their odds of success with three horses entered into the class. As the Week Fine winner of both the $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI3* and $36,600 T&R Development Classic CSI3*, Vanderveen was a particular threat. For the first pattern, course designer Manuel Esparza (MEX) provided a technical track, but the time limit ultimately caused more problems than the fences. The 71-second time-allowed proved to be a tough factor for a number of partnerships, with eight duos leaving all the rails in their cups but incurring a single time fault to keep them off of the jump-off list. In total, regardless of faults, 35 first-round contenders finished the track with three or fewer time faults to their name, making footspeed an important component for those aiming for the tie-breaker round.
It took until the seventeenth pair to go to see a clear round, which came from the trailblazers Jordan Kilkenny (IRL) and Colour Your Day. Once the pathfinders paved the way, a string of fault-free rounds followed from Adam Prudent (USA), Abigail McArdle (USA), Paul O’Shea (IRL), Kent Farrington (USA), Capt. Brian Cournane (IRL) and Schuyler Riley (USA) on their respective mounts by the halfway point. As the class progressed, the trend continued with Vanderveen, Natalie Dean (USA), Daniel Bluman (ISR), Ilan Bluman (COL), Olivia Chowdry (USA), Molly Ashe Cawley (USA), Ballard and Lillie Keenan (USA). Farrington and Prudent also qualified second mounts for the next phase of riding, bringing the total number of eligible pairs to 18.
Back again aboard Colour Your Day, Kilkenny piloted his mount to the first double-clear of the class in a time of 50.86 seconds to set the early pace. A handful of trips later, Vlock and Charly Brown blew away the leaders’ early time with a quick and precise jump-off time that left all the fences intact in 40.58 seconds, but Vanderveen once again proved why she is one of the queens of speed with a smooth, fiery round in the saddle aboard Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili, the same mount that put her at the top of the scorecard twice during Week Five, in 38.58 seconds. Her lead did not last for long, though, as the Isreali half of the Blumans navigated Colestina H to an even speedier effort, tripping the timers on 38 seconds flat to emerge as the frontrunners with seven left to go. Taking to the ring on Austria 2 after electing not to return with Kaprice, Farrington never took his foot off the gas pedal as he and Austria 2 sliced around the ring with lightning efficiency, leaving all the rails in their cups in 37.31 seconds.
Source: Press Release