Calgary Herald

Farrington rides Uceko back to winner’s circle

Elite rider takes home $28,050 purse


During the past two summers at Spruce Meadows, you could put your money on Kent Farrington many days and you would come away richer as the American rider’s reputation as an elite competitor blossomed.

The trips to the winner’s circle in 2014 have been far fewer, however, which made Thursday’s triumph all the sweeter.

“Sometimes that’s sport and how it goes,’’ mused Farrington, currently the eighth-ranked rider in the world. “It’s a game of inches and half-seconds and things like that. I had a couple of things not break my way so far, so it’s good to get a win under our belt, so to speak.’’

Farrington, 33, rode a rocket named Uceko during the jump-off of the $85,000 Progress Energy Cup on the second day of the North American show-jumping tournament, posting a ridiculous­ly fast time of 36.93 to beat out eight others vying for the $28,050 top purse. It was his first win of the summer series.

“I didn’t bring as many experience­d horses as in the past. I really just brought Voyeur for the bigger classes and younger ones that are getting a lot of good miles and are competitiv­e but they aren’t really ready to win,’’ the Chicago-born Far- rington said. “When you have an experience­d horse like (Uceko), it’s really nice to go into a class and know that you can put the pressure on and put the hammer down to compete and not have to hold back.’’

The 13-year-old Dutch warmblood was the horse that Farrington rode to two grand prix titles at the Meadows last season, most notable among a truckload of top finishes with various mounts. But this week is the first we’ve seen of the terrific grey horse and there’s a reason for it.

“He hasn’t done anything since December,’’ Farrington related. “That horse has worked really hard for me for four years and now that I have some other horses that have stepped up to be competitiv­e I thought he deserved a break so I gave him six months to not even look at a jump and forget about showing for a while. This is his first week out and he feels better than ever. He feels really fresh and excited to be back at the show, and I couldn’t be happier with him.’’

Farrington had hoped to gear Uceko up for the Queen Elizabeth II Cup grand prix on Saturday, but now doesn’t believe he’ll be ready and will opt for Voyeur instead.

“He’s a great horse as well,’’ he said of the 12-year-old. “He doesn’t have as much experience as the other horse and I think this is one of the best venues not just for toplevel competitio­n, but also produce a horse. If they jump here in this ring over these jumps, you can feel pretty comfortabl­e they can jump anywhere in the world.’’

Countryman McLain Ward and HH Carlos Z, habitual speedsters, had posted the previous fastest ride, negotiatin­g the course in a clocking of 38.49. But Farrington and Uceko juked and jived throughout, taking the tight turns and making the quick gallops that shaved more than a second and a half.

“My horse has a very big stride so the field really suits him,’’ the victor noted. “He’s also quite brave so you can go a little bit on the attack at the jumps with him. It’s playing to his strengths as a horse.’’

Ward won the first event in the Internatio­nal Ring, the Suncast Cup, on Zander. The PwC Cup, the third competitio­n of the day, was snagged by Irishman Darragh Kenny, who has won a handful of classes this summer, along with Picolo.

 ?? Jenn Pierce/Calgary Herald ?? Kent Farrington jumps Uceko to victory during the Progress Energy Cup at Spruce Meadows.
Jenn Pierce/Calgary Herald Kent Farrington jumps Uceko to victory during the Progress Energy Cup at Spruce Meadows.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada