TIMED TO PER­FEC­TION

Upscale Living Magazine - - Timepiece - By LENORE MCKENZIE

Who could have fore­seen that a young boy from Chicago with no fam­ily back­ground in eques­trian sport would go on to be­come world num­ber one?

The Amer­i­can show jumper Kent Farrington be­gan rid­ing at the age of eight after find­ing a pic­ture of his mother on a horse. It was the be­gin­ning of an ex­em­plary ca­reer, a long jour­ney towards the pin­na­cle of his sport. Since that mo­ment some 30 years ago, his mon­u­men­tal suc­cess has been shaped by un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment and a con­stant quest for per­fec­tion, along with a pas­sion for horses.

From the be­gin­ning Farrington had strong sup­port, his fam­ily in­stru­men­tal in the early suc­cesses. His mother and sis­ter would en­sure ev­ery­thing was ar­ranged - right down to ap­pli­ca­tions for shows - to al­low him to train for the max­i­mum time pos­si­ble. “I used to ride so many horses in shows when I was a kid, with the high­est record of com­pet­ing on 26 horses in a sin­gle day. So it was very hec­tic, and I was very busy. My mother and sis­ter would or­ga­nize ev­ery­thing for me.”

PRE­CI­SION SPORT

In the early days, Farrington’s coaches were impressed by his com­mit­ment, his train­ing all day and ev­ery day, but in­sisted he take one day off a week for his own health. The em­pha­sis on self-improve­ment re­mains. To stay at the top, Farrington ad­heres to a strict regime. He rides and trains his horses daily, and to main­tain peak phys­i­cal fit­ness, works out five days a week. To im­pose the least bur­den on his horses, when rid­ing he fol­lows a strin­gent diet, eat­ing no sugar, pro­cessed food or night­shades (a group of veg­eta­bles that in­cludes pota­toes, aubergines, toma­toes and pep­pers) but plenty of fish and chicken to keep up his strength.

“For our sport, you can con­tinue rid­ing for as long as you are fit to do so and still win Ma­jors. We can see that with Nick Skel­ton, who won the In­di­vid­ual Olympic gold medal at the age of 58. I have no de­sire to stop rid­ing any­time soon so I think it is bet­ter that I take care of my­self now. It is go­ing to lead to a re­ward­ing ca­reer with longevity, re­main­ing in the top 10 riders for the next 20 years be­ing my goal for my ca­reer.”

In ad­di­tion to his phys­i­cal and men­tal prepa­ra­tion, Farrington is metic­u­lous in plan­ning for the sea­son in terms of which horses to use and events to at­tend around the globe. His strat­egy is cen­tred around his horses and tak­ing risks. “I try to choose horses that I think are win­ners. They aren’t al­ways the eas­i­est, but I en­joy the chal­lenge of try­ing to make them the best they can be. Part of that is manag­ing their ca­reers and pick­ing venues that suit each horse’s strength.”

This fas­tid­i­ous­ness, in the or­ga­ni­za­tion and man­age­ment of his sta­bles and horses, re­flects a be­lief that if ev­ery­thing is in or­der ahead of

com­pe­ti­tion, it will help in the arena. His tack room is a work of art, bri­dles and sad­dles hung in per­fect sym­me­try, all la­belled with his horse’s names. “I like to have ev­ery­thing un­der con­trol and know where ev­ery­thing is, even if it only makes me one per cent bet­ter.” It is a ded­i­ca­tion and dis­ci­pline that has led to nu­mer­ous wins on the world stage, prov­ing the ex­tra one per cent, which he works so tire­lessly to achieve, does give him the edge.

FIRST ROLEX TIME­PIECE

Farrington an­nounced his pres­ence when he claimed the gold medal at the 1999 North Amer­i­can Young Riders In­ter­na­tional Com­pe­ti­tion at the age of 18. After this, his ca­reer went from strength to strength, in­clud­ing wins in the King Ge­orge V Cup, the Amer­i­can In­vi­ta­tional, the Pres­i­dent’s Cup and the Hamp­ton Clas­sic, and, no­tably, the East Coast World Cup League in which he helped Team USA win gold in 2011.

The spe­cial re­la­tion­ship be­tween Rolex and Farrington be­gan in 2013, at the La Coruña Grand Prix in Spain. Be­fore he com­peted, his sis­ter told him she wanted a Rolex, but he could not buy it for her; he had to win it. That day, sure enough, he won his first Rolex time­piece, a Date­just, which he promptly gave to his sis­ter. A year later his list of achieve­ments was rec­og­nized with an in­vi­ta­tion to be­come a Rolex Tes­ti­monee.

“I felt very grate­ful. This was a dream of mine, to do what I’m do­ing. Be­com­ing a Tes­ti­monee for Rolex was a huge mo­ment, be­cause that is some­thing much big­ger than just show jump­ing,” said Farrington, who be­lieves the Rolex spon­sor­ship has en­hanced both his own ca­reer and the sport. “I think we are liv­ing in ex­cit­ing times with a spon­sor like Rolex who can trans­form events such as Royal Wind­sor Horse Show. It raises the level of com­pe­ti­tion and it is a pos­i­tive chal­lenge for all riders, with Rolex Ma­jors and the Grand Slam be­ing a big part of our sport to­day.” The 37-year old’s tro­phy cabi­net in his of­fice in Welling­ton, Florida, is tes­ta­ment to his phe­nom­e­nal tal­ent. One of the sport’s most suc­cess­ful riders, Farrington is the only Amer­i­can to have won the Rolex IJRC

Top 10 Fi­nal (in 2015). The fol­low­ing year at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games he was in­stru­men­tal in help­ing Team USA take home sil­ver, while 2017 was a year of un­prece­dented suc­cess; he won seven 5* Grand Prix and re­tained the world num­ber one po­si­tion. In May, he tri­umphed in the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Royal Wind­sor Horse Show and was vic­to­ri­ous at the Rolex Cen­tral Park Horse Show in Septem­ber. It was here in Man­hat­tan that Farrington demon­strated com­pas­sion for those in need, promis­ing ahead of the class that he would do­nate any money he earned to the Di­rect Re­lief fund for Hur­ri­cane Irma. “I have a house in Florida, and even though I wasn’t af­fected, a lot of peo­ple around me were. I thought this would be a good op­por­tu­nity to help those peo­ple.”

LEG­ENDARY SIR JACKIE STE­WART AWARDS KENTFARRINGTON

Farrington’s su­perla­tive 2017 sea­son cul­mi­nated with a spec­tac­u­lar vic­tory in the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHI Geneva.

ROLEX EQUES­TRIAN FEA­TURE STORY

“I was over­joyed but to be hon­est I was in a state of shock. I had been try­ing to win that Grand Prix for so long. I found it hard to be­lieve it was over and I had left the show as the win­ner.”

The prize was pre­sented by Bri­tish mo­tor rac­ing great and Rolex Tes­ti­monee Sir Jackie Ste­wart, a mem­ory that Farrington will cher­ish. “Not only had I won one of the tough­est Grand Prix on the global cir­cuit, but I was pre­sented the award by an icon. Sir Jackie Ste­wart is a leg­end and when he con­grat­u­lated me, I re­ally couldn’t be hap­pier.”

This vic­tory put Farrington in con­tention for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jump­ing, a ti­tle so far achieved only by Rolex Tes­ti­monee Scott Brash in 2015. The fact just one rider has won the cov­eted prize is ev­i­dence of its sig­nif­i­cance. To suc­ceed, a rider must dis­play flaw­less ac­cu­racy, im­mac­u­late pre­ci­sion and un­par­al­leled ded­i­ca­tion, qual­i­ties mir­rored in the craft­man­ship of ev­ery Rolex time­piece.

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