.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington has found yet another leading lady in Toulayna with a win in the $226,000 CSI4* Grand Prix under the glow of ‘Saturday Night Lights’. Befitting of St. Patrick’s Day week, the event highlighted Week 10 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) at Wellington International in Wellington, FL.
Stepping up to the biggest test of her career to date, the nine-year-old Zangersheide mare could not be caught over the Andy Christiansen Jr. (USA) designed jump-off track and ticked the box for her first grand prix win. Nine horses advanced to the tie-breaking short course where the lead changed five times.
“This is definitely the biggest track she’s jumped,” said Farrington of the mare that was also third in the NetJets CSI4* Grand Prix during WEF 3. “I have high hopes for this horse. She’s fast, careful and everything I like in a show jumper.”
Farrington’s Tokyo teammate Jessica Springsteen set the pace as the first clear round aboard her Olympic mount Don Juan van de Donkhoeve for owner Stone Hill Farm. Their time of 39.58 seconds was soon eclipsed by fellow U.S. rider Lillie Keenan on Chansonette Farm’s Agana van het Gerendal Z in 39.10 seconds.
Ireland’s sole representative in the Horseware Ireland Grand Prix was Darragh Kenny in the irons of Amsterdam 27. They stole the lead from Keenan and stopped the clock at 38.94 seconds before Nicole Shahinian-Simpson took it back for the U.S. in 37.94 seconds. Farrington did just enough to seal the deal by stopping the timers at 37.38 seconds.
“I’m very confident on this horse and that’s the way I like to do it; get them when they are young and produce them myself so I know them quite well,” said Farrington, who has been with Toulayna since the mare’s seven-year-old year. “Even if they are green stepping up to this level, I know where I can take a shot.
“[Toulayna] is extremely sharp and I was very quick to the verticals,” continued Farrington of his jump-off round. “Taking a run down to that single is probably where I made up some time. She has a big stride, but I wasn’t sure if I could get eight strides to the last jump. She jumped so strong out of the double, it was easy.”
Shahinian-Simpson finished the runner-up on the spirited mare Akuna Mattata, owned by Carol Rosenstein and Silver Raven Farms. Kenny rounded out the top three for owner Vlock Show Stables with Keenan and Springsteen capping the top five, respectively. A third member of the U.S. team from the Tokyo Olympic games, Laura Kraut had the time beat but pulled a rail at the final fence of the jump-off to take sixth. Kraut, a Horseware Ireland sponsored rider was the defending champion of the Horseware Ireland CSI4* Grand Prix after winning the title in 2022 on Confu.
The Horseware Ireland CSI4* Grand Prix highlighted WEF 10 with thrilling competition. Nina Filette, Horseware Sponsorship and Events Executive, said, “We have a long history with Wellington. We have been sponsors for many years, and it gets bigger and better every year. It’s a pleasure to be here and it’s one of our main shows on the calendar every year. It was an exciting jump-off, and the sport is incredible every week.”