Kent Farrington (USA) was last to jump-off in the CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix at Thunderbird Show Park (tbird), but he was worth the wait. (Because he didn’t make us wait long).
Farrington and Orafina finished the Peter Holmes designed jump-off track in a blistering 42.09 seconds, ahead of Jose Alberto Martinez Vazquez (MEX) and Quinley’s time of 43.92 and Katherine Strauss (USA) with Cincinnati Kid, who clocked in at 44.74.
“Orafina as a very special horse. I started working with her about two years ago, and she’s very careful. She’s obviously extremely fast,” said Farrington.
The world No. 7 might take shortcuts in the jump-off, but he certainly doesn’t rush when developing his horses. The result today was two years in the making.
“This is our first 5* [Grand Prix] win. So very proud of that today. Great first round. Great jump off. I’m super happy with the horse,” said Farrington.
“She’s a very strong willed mare. She’s a particular lady and she lets you know what she thinks about everything…She’s not so easy to ride, but she’s really an exceptional athlete and starting to come into her own.”
Few things worth doing come easy, and that includes winning a 5* Grand Prix with a complicated horse. Farrington, though, is along for whatever ride Orafina prefers. In sports terms, they have good chemistry.
“I think part of making the most of her athletic abilities is finding a way to work with her, some compromises in the controls and in the riding. That’s how we get the the best performance as a team.”
Speaking of sports terms, Orafina boasts impressive stats—a 69% clear round rate and 75% top ten finish rate out of 13 starts at 1.60m, according to JUMPR App. The mare has had a busy season too, jumping to a top ten finish in the CSI5* 1.60m at Royal Windsor Horse Show a few short weeks ago and winning both a CSI5* 1.55m speed class in March and a CSI3* Grand Prix in April.
While Farrington is the one in the saddle, even the spectators can gather that she’s a hypersensitive horse. After the course was finished she still maintained her electric energy, dodging the officials advancing with her neck ribbon, and pricking her ears towards the applauding crowd.
Some riders might find her disposition unsettling (or unseating), but Farrington thinks that’s exactly the quality that gives her the edge to win at the top level.
“The best show jumpers have to be that aware so that they are still able to keep their composure and jump delicate fences at high speed. So I think that that’s one of her great attributes as a show jumper,” said Farrington.
The victory also marks Farrington’s first 5* Grand Prix win at the venue. What are the future goals for this special mare?
“She has a great will to win, and she wants to please. So we’ll see where it goes, but she’ll let me know what she wants to do. I have no doubt about that.”