Royal Windsor Horse Show: World Number One Wins the Rolex Grand Prix For a Second Year
Written by Amy Bennett
In a repeat performance of his win in 2016, USA’s Kent Farrington once again takes the jewel in the crown of Royal Windsor Horse Show’s show jumping schedule, the Rolex CSI 5* Grand Prix.
With a blistering jump off round, Farrington and the inexperienced 11 year old Sherkan D’Amaury were the only combination in the 12 strong jump off field to post a sub-40 second clear round, stopping the clock in 39.97 seconds. Being the only rider brave enough to gallop at the final fence – an up to height brown and white upright facing the crowds – clearly paid off.
“I’m really impressed with him, he’s only just stepping up to this level,” Kent said of the bay Selle Français gelding, “I thought it would be a big ask of him to jump the Grand Prix here but I set him up all week with a few smaller classes and he was unbelievable today.”
The horse came to Kent just over a year ago from a contact in France and he had earmarked the horse as a Rio potential but unfortunately shortly after he arrived the gelding had a nasty bout of colic and had to have a year off to recover from the surgery.
The only other rider that would have beaten him, had he not got a bad stride to the third last (a maximum dimension blue oxer), was Canadian Eric Lamaze riding Fine Lady 5. The pair galloped at the lightweight upright Rolex skinny fence before a tight right hand turn to the oxer, but unfortunately they met it on a non existent stride and crashed through it, stopping the clock more than two seconds quicker than Farrington.
Crossing the finish less than a second behind Kent was the flying Italian Lorenzo De Luca, riding the 10 year old Halifax Van Het Kluizebos, who coincidentally, Lorenzo couldn’t convince to jump a 1m 40cm fence here last year. “He’s always been a positive horse but as I cantered past the ring today I was reminded of that,” Lorenzo smiled, “but he’s growing a lot and he really performed in a big Grand April against lots of top combinations, so I’m really pleased with him.
Just 100th of a second slower to take third place, was Britain’s own Scott Brash riding the evergreen Ursula XII. The 16 year old mare was by far the oldest horse in the field, but she certainly didn’t show her age taking some of the tightest lines in the jump off. “She is older but she’s not done that many years jumping,” Scott said of the British bred mare, “she was out for nearly two years through an injury and so she’s not got the wear and tear on her that a horse her age usually would”. Fingers crossed we see this combination at the European Championships later on this year.
Saturday’s Kingdom of Bahrain Stakes for the King’s Cup threw up a mixed bag of results as some of the class’s early favourites saw refusals and eliminations as early as fence two, a perfect replica of Tower Bridge. With a lot of air between the bottom and top rails, it caught out some of the world’s best including Bertram Allen with Molly Malone V and Laura Kraut riding Constable II. The evening 1m 50 two round class was won by Jessica Springsteen who was riding the in-form Davendy S.
With the incredible number of clear rounds and fresh horses over the 4 days of jumping, the impeccable facilities and the standard of the facilities it’s clear that the step up to a CSI 5* for Windsor was more than deserved and achieved. “There’s very little to complain about here,” Scott Brash said of his first visit to the event since it’s been held inside the private grounds of the castle, “the fitting is perfect, all the rings are a great size and the event has Ben a huge success. I hope Windsor sees its five star status remain for years to come.” Hear, hear Scott! Hear, hear.