Kent Farrington and Austria beat the field to win WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 CSI5*

Kent Farrington and Austria 2
Credit : Sportfot

Friday 07 February - 16h30 | Press Release

Kent Farrington and Austria beat the field to win WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 CSI5*

Riding out of the 12th spot in a jump-off field of 19, Kent Farrington (USA) sped through the timers to win the $137,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 CSI5* riding Austria 2, owned by Take the High Road LLC, on Thursday, February 6, at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL.

WEF continues through March 29, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida, with 12 consecutive weeks of world-class competition and $13 million dollars on offer. The fifth week of competition runs February 5 through February 9, is sponsored by Fidelity Investments®, and recognized as a CSI5* and CSI2* by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI).
The first round of the WEF Challenge Cup had 52 entries, and with 19 clear over the course designed by Anthony D’Ambrosio and Andy Christiansen Jr., speed was all-important. The early lead was set by Capt. Brian Cournane (IRL) and Penelope Cruz, owned by Cournane and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Stiller, at 43.15 seconds, which would hold up for fifth place. The leading time dropped down to 41.56 seconds when Olympic individual gold medalist Eric Lamaze (CAN) piloted The Chacco Kid Group’s Chacco Kid around the short course. They would end on a podium finish in third place. Karl Cook (USA) and Caillou 24, owned by Helen Signe Ostby, slotted into fourth place with a jump-off time of 41.70 seconds.

But it was Farrington and Austria 2 as the next pair into the ring that would set a blazing time of 40.68 seconds that would remain untouched for the remaining seven trips. Coming closest to Farrington was Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) on Starlight Farms 1 LLC’s Just A Gamble, who posted a time of 40.98 seconds for second place.
Farrington always looks for improvement no matter what ribbon he takes home, and Thursday’s class was no different.
“[Jumps] one to two she didn’t turn as well as I’d hoped,” he explained “I think I came to one with a little too much speed to turn short, so I got a little off my line. I did one extra [stride] to number two, so I kind of doubled down on my bet and went super short to the next oxer because otherwise I thought I’d be too slow. Ideally, I could have done one to two a little bit better and then I could have had an even smoother turn to number three. But she’s so fast and a fighter. You can do that with horses like her. I thought I was a little bit behind, but I could ratchet it up and still catch the class.”
Farrington has learned how to ratchet up not only Austria’s speed, but her scope, and used her innate talent. Having taken over the ride in the spring of 2019, their first event was the Spruce Meadows Summer Series, where Farrington and Austria 2 got to know each other in the 1.30m division and ended up in the 1.50m jumpers. Her talent led Farrington to compete her in five-star grand prix classes regularly that summer, and they capped off an impressive year with 13 top-five finishes and victory in the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final in Geneva, Switzerland.

“I don’t really feel a limit on her; she’s got an unbelievable mentality,” said Farrington of the 12-year-old Holsteiner mare (Casall x Corrado I). “That goes a long way, and a horse that really wants to fight for you is a huge part of the battle of doing high level sport.”
Farrington noticed Austria 2 earlier in her career, since the mare’s owners are his neighbors in Wellington.
“Karen [Long Dwight] and Glen are my neighbors in Palm Beach Point. We ride on the canals. It was around Christmastime and I said, ‘Merry Christmas! I keep asking Santa if I can ride Austria. It hasn’t happened yet but I’m hoping!’” he laughed. “After that season, they actually said, ‘Hey would you like to ride Austria?’ Santa came through.”
What caught Farrington’s eye was Austria’s type. “It’s a super light, Thoroughbred-type horse,” he said. “That’s my favorite type of horse, what I’m always drawn to. She’s super careful, naturally quick, a modern show jumper. I was being a little funny talking about riding the horse, but I had no idea what it could actually do. I thought it would be a great winner at whatever level it decided to jump, but I didn’t know that was going to be 1.50m or 1.55m or 1.60m. Whether she wants to do that all the time or she moves up and down, I think regardless it’s a great horse and I feel very fortunate that I have Karen and Glen behind me with the horse. They’ve been so supportive.”
Austria 2 will now have time off from competition and return during WEF 7, while Farrington’s top horse, Gazelle, will compete in Saturday night’s $401,000 Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix CSI5*.

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