Fast, careful and powerful are just a few of the shining characteristics that make Kent Farrington’s (USA) 11-year-old mare Orafina a modern show jumping marvel.

Though the KWPN mare has become something of a winning machine over the past year she’s anything but turn-key, because sporty doesn’t means leisurely whether you’re talking in car or horse terms. Just ask Farrington, who had the wind whipping against his face as he sped to the win in the $226,000 Adequan CSI4* Grand Prix 1.55m at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) on Sunday afternoon.

“Orafina is a very fast horse. She’s extremely careful, so she really doesn’t have a middle speed,” explained Farrington.

The Alan Wade (IRL) designed course saw only six riders advance to the jump-off out of nearly 30 combinations. While that could have hypothetically taken some some pressure off Farrington, he had no plans to let his foot off the gas, crossing the timers in a blistering 33.91 seconds. It was nearly five seconds faster than runner-up Alison Robitaille (USA) aboard 10-year-old mare Oakingham Lira who finished in 38.78 seconds. Katie Laurie (AUS) and 12-year-old Django II took third with 40.7 seconds.

Orafina has been taking international wins with Farrington since 2021, and her confidence has grown exponentially throughout her tours. She currently boasts a 67% clear round rate and 75% top ten finish rate at 1.55m according to Jumpr App. With only 12 rounds under her belt, these stats are still trending upwards. Still, her sharpness hasn’t dulled, so Farrington still needs to be on the top of his game to put together a win.

“[I have] more confidence in her jump-off’s now to take tighter turns than I did before. Her rate of speed is probably the same because she’s always on go, but just a little more confidence in her mind too. She’s getting better,” said Farrington.

“It’s still a not an easy ride, as we saw the other night. She can she can still be a bit difficult to manage, but she’s a fabulous jumper and an incredible athlete.”

Orafina is among Farrington’s up and coming group of younger horses still developing their skills at the top level. Though they’re already cunning competitors despite still holding their green cards. Four weeks ago his 10-year-old stallion Landon won the CSI3* Grand Prix at Wellington International, placing third in the CSI5* the next month. Farrington also placed third in the CSI4* Grand Prix at Wellington International with nine-year-old mare Toulayna Van Het Vloesemhof Z.

Now they’ve come to conquer the Desert, where Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Conor Swail (IRL) were starting to get a little bit too comfortable. For Farrington, the change of scenery is all part of the plan to bring up this new group and monopolize the top of the sport.

“The group here at Desert Horse Park has made a big effort to improve the sport. The facility is fantastic, great footing, great jumps. They’re behind the sport for the right reasons and I like to support that,” he said.

“I have a younger group of horses coming up, so for them to go different places and jump in different rings helps develop the horse at the same time.”

As we’ve seen with Orafina, he doesn’t shy away from challenging horses with a particular edge. In fact, that’s his type.

“Orafina is just a hyper careful, very, very sensitive horse. These are my favorite type of horses to work with. That, I think, is the ultimate modern sport horse. But there’s a lot of a lot of power there, and getting the horse to work with you to control that power takes time. I’ve been putting in a lot of time and it’s starting to pay off in great results,” said Farrington.

Though, he takes no time at all when it counts, and his competitors were comfortable with the knowledge that they were vying for second.

“I know how fast he is on his own. And then nevermind the fast horse. I’m just still getting to know my horse in these types of jump off…I wanted to have obviously a competitive round, but I wasn’t going in to beat Kent,” said Robitaille.

Maybe not this time, because just as we know Farrington likes a challenging horse, he also likes a challenging class, and competition in the desert is heating up by the week.

Feature image: Olivia Nazworth