An exciting evening of international show jumping took place complimented by equestrian exhibitions, live music and a dazzling display of fireworks during the Mercedes-Benz Evening of the Horse Friday night at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament.
It was a packed house to watch many of the world’s best horses and riders compete in the evening’s events, which included the second win of the week for Kent Farrington (USA) and Uceko in the $210,000 Tourmaline Oil Cup 1.60m. The $75,000 ATCO Electric ‘Circuit’ Six Bar was held later with a victory for Edwin Smits (SUI) and Rouge Pierreville over four rounds of competition.
The ‘Masters’ Tournament features five days of competition through Sunday, September 13, with highlights including Saturday’s $300,000 BMO Nations’ Cup and Sunday’s $1.5 Million CP International, presented by Rolex. One of the most prestigious grand prix events in the world, the CP International is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, where Scott Brash (GBR) will attempt to become the first rider to ever take the Grand Slam title. Brash already made history by winning two consecutive legs of the challenge with victories at CHI Geneva in December followed by a second victory at CHIO Aachen a few months later. An unprecedented €1 million in bonus money is on offer to any rider who can win all three grand prix events in succession.
Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios set a difficult track for the horses and riders in Friday’s $210,000 Tourmaline Oil Cup. Out of 26 entries, no one was able to clear the course without fault. The win went to Kent Farrington and RCG Farm’s Uceko with one time fault in 80.66 seconds. Tiffany Foster (CAN) finished second with the fastest four-fault round riding Torrey Pines and Artisan Farms’ Victor in 78.31 seconds.
“The course was very big,” Farrington remarked on the lack of clear rounds. “That was as big as a 5* grand prix that we jump anywhere. I also think a lot of people did not have their top horses in there. The size of the course was quite big for the Friday class, but Uceko is a legitimate grand prix horse, so I think I had the right weapon today. It was a serious course with a very tight time allowed.”
Elizabeth Gingras (CAN) and Gingras Equestrian Ltd.’s Zilversprings placed third with four faults in 78.43 seconds. Scott Brash (GBR) also had one rail down with Hello Forever, owned by Lord and Lady Harry and Lady P Kirkham, to place fourth in a time of 78.52 seconds.
“I didn’t know if I was going to win because I never like to be that presumptuous, but when you look back at that course, Leopoldo would have been lucky to get one clear maybe. If there is a strong group of riders in there, somebody is going to pull it off usually. I was lucky to get away with it today; I was worried I was going to be crying all night with that time fault.”
With two wins for the week, Uceko will now have a well-deserved vacation. Farrington was thrilled with the horse’s performance and praised his mount, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Celano x Koriander).
“He is an exceptional horse and he really likes to jump on big grass fields, so I try to use him heavily in those venues,” Farrington detailed. “He is a horse that goes better when he is excited, so I try to keep him really fresh. I give him half the year off every year. He is better when he has a lot of energy, so the more atmosphere a place has, the better he goes. Where a big field or a large crowd intimidates a lot of horses, he usually goes better in that setting.”
Photos © Spruce Meadows Media Services.