As the Kentucky Spring Classic hosted another night of show jumping, the incredible duo of Kent Farrington and Uceko continued their complete domination of the last two weeksAs the Kentucky Spring Classic hosted another night of show jumping, the incredible duo of Kent Farrington and Uceko continued their complete domination of the last two weeks
As the Kentucky Spring Classic hosted another night of show jumping, the incredible duo of Kent Farrington and Uceko continued their complete domination of the last two weeks by securing the $55,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix victory. Tonight’s event was sponsored by Audi of Lexington and honored Mary Rena Murphy, a horsewoman whose dedication to equestrian sport was unmatched. Once again, speed proved to be the determining factor during the thirteen horse jump-off, and that is something Farrington and Uceko are proving to master. The duo was a full two seconds ahead of second place finishers Ali Wolff and Lanoo, while Christian Heineking and River of Dreams took home third for the second time this week.
Richard Jeffery, of Bournemouth, England, was tonight’s course designer and 32 horse and riders gathered at the Rolex Stadium to take their turn over the first round. There were 16 jumping efforts, which included a triple bar, a wall fence, a liverpool, an open water, an oxer-oxer double combination, and a vertical-oxer-vertical triple combination. Thirteen of the entries managed to clear the course without fault and advance to the jump-off.
"During the first round, there were more clear than I expected," admitted Farrington. "The outside line started with a wall and then an awkward distance to an oxer-oxer combination, and then a very steady distance to a liverpool. I thought that would catch more horses than it did. I think the footing here is excellent, and these horses have been here for two weeks now, so I think they are really comfortable in the ring. I think that’s why there were more clear rounds than Richard expected. It’s under the lights, so they are a bit impressed, and I think the horses were just really going well on the ground."
For the final test, Jeffery had riders start over a single oxer to the liverpool and make a bending line to a single oxer. They then made a sharp roll back to a vertical-oxer double combination and galloped across the ring to a wide oxer. Finally, riders made another sharp turn to a tall vertical before they galloped towards the timers over the last oxer. Of the thirteen qualifiers, seven were able to make it a perfect night and finish without any faults added to their score.
Although Farrington and Uceko took an overwhelming lead by over two seconds, the rest of the field was very close together as they determined the final placings. Young rider Ali Wolff and Lanoo, owned by Blacklick Bend Farm, were the first to set the standard, completing a clear round in 42.55 seconds, which would eventually take the second place honors. Christian Heineking was not far behind Lanoo with his talented mount River of Dreams, owned by Kai Handt. They clocked in at 42.63 seconds, just 1/10th of a second later for the duo’s second third place finish of the week.
"He felt pretty prepared today and pretty relaxed, which is the main key," noted Wolff. "He has a hard right drift, especially when he is nervous, so I was a little concerned about some of the lines, like to the wall and the liverpool, but he did all those beautifully. He hangs very high in the air, so that I would either have to gallop through a fence for the time or add one to the green oxer coming home, and that’s what I did, which was the right move for me. That speed was perfect for him."
Schuyler Riley also made an excellent attempt to catch the top spot with Lapacco, owned by Southbeach Stables, breaking the beam at 42.79 seconds for fourth place. Hector Florentino was hot on her heels with Ultimo, owned by Stransky’s Mission Farms, but finished a second later to take home the fifth place award after tripping the timers at 43.55 seconds. Ian Millar and the ever-consistent Star Power, owned by Team Works, completed another double clear effort for sixth after crossing the finish in 43.71 seconds. Ragan Roberts and Quipit L.F., owned by the Quipit Group, rounded out the double clear rounds with the most conservative effort in 48.83 seconds to take home seventh place.
Kent Farrington was the fourth rider to show clear during the jump-off with RCG Farm’s Uceko. The duo did so in a very commanding effort as they made quick rollbacks and held a big gallop across the ring. After already securing two major wins during last week’s $55,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix and Thursday’s $30,00 Hagyard Lexington Classic, it was no surprise when they blazed through the finish in 40.79 seconds to head straight to the top of the leaderboard and eventually lead the victory gallop.
"After the third fence in the jump-off, Uceko can roll back really short, so I turned very short into the combination and again very short back to the FEI vertical, and used his stride to get the last fence," explained Farrington. "The main focus has been getting him back fit. He just came back this winter, and I’ve just been legging him up. He’s a good jumper all by himself, so it’s just a matter of having him fit and healthy to do his job, and then just staying out of his way."
Earlier this week, Farrington noted that Uceko can be a bit playful, which is a very similar characteristic to one of his most successful mounts, Up Chiqui. "I just like good jumpers, so I’ll ride whatever. I think sometimes a horse with a strong personality is a fighter in the ring too, and sometimes you have to put up with that too. He’s not as wild as Up Chiqui, he just has a playful attitude. That’s sort of his demeanor, but as he’s getting more experience he’s really coming to the party when we go to compete."
The Kentucky Spring Horse Shows have been hugely successful for Farrington, and he could not be more pleased with the performances of all of his mounts. "This was a great place for me to come and fine tune and really get him back show fit and ready to go. Uceko has performed great, so it has been exciting. It’s been good mileage for my young ones and some of my students have new horses, so it’s just been getting everybody ready to go for this summer."
Farrington concluded, "I’d like to thank my owners. To be successful like this you need to have the support, so I really appreciate all the people that are behind my career."
Tomorrow, the Kentucky Spring Classic will come to a close with the $20,000 Bluegrass Classic, which was won last week by Farrington and Calvin Vanhet Wuttensenfof. Riders will gather at the Rolex Stadium beginning at 8 a.m. to vie for the winning prize.
For more information about the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
RESULTS: $55,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix
1 UCEKO, KENT FARRINGTON
2 LANOO, ALI WOLFF
3 RIVER OF DREAMS, CHRISTIAN HEINEKING
4 LAPACCO, SCHUYLER RILEY
5 ULTIMO, HECTOR FLORENTINO
6 STAR POWER, IAN MILLAR
7 QUIPIT L.F., RAGAN ROBERTS
8 TOP GUN, AMY MILLAR
9 TWISHTER, CHRISTINE MCCREA
10 URBAN, BLYTHE MARANO
11 ADAMO VAN’T STEENPUTJE, DANIELLE GOLDSTEIN
12 AL CALYPSO, SAMUEL PAROT