After a week filled with torrential downpours and schizophrenic weather, the skies held for today’s $200,000 Longines FEI World Cup Qualifier, where Kent Farrington and Uceko bested a field of 40.
Alan Wade’s course was a fair test for the field, with rails falling throughout and no specific bogey fence. A lenient time allowed those riders later in the line-up a chance to observe and, in turn, approach the course conservatively.
Of the 40 combinations, 13 moved into the jump-off, an exciting mix of veteran superstars sprinkled with promising up-and-comers. Paris Sellon, 23, set the tone with a clear trip at 43.50 seconds, her pace with Adare deceptively fast.
When McLain Ward entered the ring with HH Carlos Z it almost seemed inevitable he’d be the man on top, the duo coming off two big wins in just as many days. But with 4 faults, the third time wouldn’t be the charm for McLain and Carlos.
Richard Spooner and Big Red, partners for just a month, took a no-holds-barred approach, gunning around the course cowboy style. A few missed distances meant a major effort for Big Red, but the pair pulled it off and briefly held the lead with their time of 42.89. As thanks to Big Red for his efforts, Spooner immediately fed the gelding treats as they left the ring.
Despite Spooner’s efforts, Kent Farrington and 15 year-old Uceko were not to be denied. A lightning pace put the duo nearly 2.5 seconds faster than the rest of the field. Meredith Michaels Beerbaum and Fibonacci gave it their best but would end up second, unable to match Farrington’s blistering pace.
Of Uceko, Farrington says, “He didn’t start out as a fast horse. He has a long stride and slow canter. As I’ve gotten to know him really well he’s learned to turn very short to the fences and leave out strides where others can’t.”
Spooner couldn’t have been prouder of the third place finish, seeing great things ahead for Big Red. “When we got here I thought, ‘I’m going to be very aggressive. It’d be nice to have four faults and have a nice result.’ To have him go and go double clear far exceeds my expectations.”
Farrington has his sights set on Rio and will likely miss the World Cup Final in Gothenburg, despite his success today.
Article by Ashley Fairfield-Remeza
Sources: Chronicle of the Horse