The third week of the 2023 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) saw national level jumper competition peak on Saturday night during the $50,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic Grand Prix. WEF 2, presented by Florida Coast Equipment, went under the lights at Wellington International for a win that went to Kent Farrington (USA) aboard the rising star, Greya.
Besting the field of 44 in a time of 37.756 seconds over a track designed by Catsy Cruz (MEX), Farrington topped a seven-horse jump-off from the lead-off position. Farrington, a U.S. Olympic team silver medalist, is currently ranked 18th on the FEI world rankings.
A tight time-allowed was a factor in the outcome for several riders as only time faults on the clock kept two from advancing to the short course. Top young Canadian Sam Walker ensured that the evening would have a jump-off aboard Amy Mason’s 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Equine America Ivanhoe GPH. Olympic champion Ben Maher (GBR) produced one final clear before the halfway drag with a fault-free round on Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright’s Enjeu De Grisien. Four more competitors added their names to the jump-off order in the class’ second half including Ireland’s Bertram Allen and Belgium’s Jos Verlooy.
As the first to return, Farrington and his nine-year-old Oldenburg mare (Colestus x Contender) immediately set forth a challenge for the remaining contestants with all rails still in the cups on a seemingly uncatchable time.
“It’s [Greya’s] first time jumping under the lights,” explained Farrington. “So, I tried to just work out of her normal gallop which is already pretty quick. Luckily, it worked out tonight and I thought she was incredible.”
The 2023 WEF season is an exciting one for Farrington’s team as he looks forward to introducing his younger string of mounts to top international competition at the venue.
“The last year has been a rebuilding time for my string as some of my main horses are winding down their international careers,” he continued. “It’s time for the young ones to step up; I have a group of horses – the oldest being ten – that are starting to jump in the international scene and I’m excited to see what happens with each of them.”
Greya is among the promising young horses in that string, and her ‘opinionated’ personality has already made her a favorite for Farrington. “She’s a very special horse and I thought she jumped very well tonight,” he said fondly. “She’s an opinionated mare; she has her own ideas but those are my favorite horses because I think in the end they are the best. When you can train the horse to work with you and use all of their energy to go in the right direction it can be great.”
Dr. Richard Wheeler, Dr. Robert Brusie and Melissa Brusie presented Farrington as the winner. “Palm Beach Equine Clinic is proud to be a long-time partner and supporter of Wellington International,” said Dr. Wheeler, representing Palm Beach Equine Clinic, the official Veterinarian of WEF. “It has been very nice to see the event get stronger and stronger each year, and it’s an honor for us to serve the Wellington equestrian community."
Posting the second-fastest double-clear effort was Maher and the nine-year-old Selle Français gelding (Toulon x Andiamo) as they finished just behind Farrington with a time of 38.835 seconds. Verlooy rounded out the victory gallop aboard Eurohorse BVBA’s ten-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion Nixon Van’t Meulenhof (Denzel vt Meulenhof x Carthago).
Top sport at Wellington International will resume Sunday as WEF 2 comes to a close with the featured CHF140,000 Florida Coast Equipment CSI3* Grand Prix at the Equestrian Village derby field.
1.Kent Farrington (USA) & Greya: 2014 Oldenburg mare (Colestus x Contender)
Owner: Kent Farrington, LLC.
2.Ben Maher (GBR) & Enjeu De Grisien: 2014 Selle Français gelding (Toulon x Andiamo)
Owner: Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright
3.Jos Verlooy (BEL) & Nixon Van’t Meulenhof: 2013 Belgian Warmblood stallion (Denzel vt Meulenhof x Carthago)
Owner: Eurohorse BVBA
4.Sam Walker (CAN) & Equine America Ivanhoe GPH: 2013 KWPN gelding (Marome MW x Indorado)
Owner: Amy Mason
5.Bertram Allen (IRL) & Edison De Hus: 2014 Selle Français gelding (Conrad x Galoubet du Rouet)
Owner: Ballywater Stables