Kent Farrington won his second Adequan® WEF Challenge Cup in as many weeks on Thursday during Week 5 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL. The 2016 U.S. Olympic team silver medalist and 10-year-old Zangersheide mare Toulayna (Toulan x Parco, breeder: Jasper Doucé) could not be caught in a 12-horse jump-off in the International Arena.
From an original field of 52, Farrington and Toulayna, a horse he started developing as a seven-year-old and owns together with Rabbit Root Stables, put on a masterclass of speed and agility. Textbook turns throughout a sweeping course built by Gregory Bodo (FRA) landed Farrington the win with two seconds to spare.
“You could see his sophistication in the first round; it was not a huge course but there were faults everywhere,” said Farrington of Bodo, who has been tapped to design the courses for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris this summer. “The jump-off wasn't typical. It used the entire arena running up and down, so I think it was an advantage for a well-schooled horse that can turn great, and Toulayna turns as well as any horse. One to two on a very short rollback suited me well and at the end I was able to cut into the double on an angle to bend my two strides coming home. I think that is probably where she made it up.”
Toulayna stopped the clock in 35.98 seconds ahead of Spencer Smith (USA). He finished second riding Theodore Manciais, a 17-year-old Selle Français gelding by Kashmir van Schuttershof owned by Ashland Farms, in 37.23 seconds. Irish Olympian Darragh Kenny took third on 12-year-old Oldenburg Eddy Blue (Eldorado vd Zeshoek) owned by Kerry Anne, LLC, in 37.79 seconds.
“He's pretty amazing,” said Hannan of the 10-year-old stallion. “He has just beautiful movement and he’s naturally careful. He really studies the jump and he just has such a great character and cadence to his stride.”
The reserve tricolor went to Wellington’s own Scott Stewart, and Styles, a 12-year-old gelding owned by Dr.Betsee Parker. The pair placed steady seconds across three of the four over-fences with a high score of 88.
“It is important with the green horses to have some regularity to everything that's happening so
that they're able to stay in consistent rings and get consistent mileage,” said Hannan. “Also, we as trainers are able to space it out however we'd like. I think that consistency really helps these green horses grow quicker than they might during other times of the year.”
Farrington took his time developing Toulayna and guided the mare to her first FEI grand prix victory in the Horseware Ireland CSI4* Grand Prix only one year ago in the International Arena at WEF.
“You always have to be looking for future talent even while you're running the talent that you have, so I always try to use Florida as a way to get my experienced ones up and running while at the same time producing the next ones for the future,” said Farrington of his approach to the three-month long winter season in Wellington.
Of Toulayna’s program at home, Farrington noted. “It’s pretty easy. She's a show horse and she knows the job, so it's more about fitness and keeping her mentally fresh. I ride her on the canals and on the grass; I like to keep them out of the arena so they stay fresh for the sport and they're happy to do their job. She’s an incredible horse and hyper competitive.”