Kent Farrington and Voyeur Arrive to Win $250,000 FTI Consulting WCQ Grand Prix at Hampton Classic

[Bridgehampton, NY] Kent Farrington knows that persistence pays off, and today he reaped the benefits of coming back to Bridgehampton again and again, when he won the $250,000 FTI Consulting Grand Prix CSI-W4* at The Hampton Classic Horse Show after years of placing in the top ten.

Farrington is a regular at this historic competition, and by his own count has been trying to win its feature grand prix for over ten years without succeeding. That changed today, when he became the first rider to successfully navigate a clear round, and the only rider to go double clear with Voyeur, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Amalaya Investments.

Farrington and Voyeur fly, midway through the first round.

Guillherme Jorge built a difficult course that produced just a trio of riders to move on to the jumpoff. McLain Ward, defending grand prix champion of The Hampton Classic, kicked things off with Grant Road Partners’ Antares F, and the crowd watched in anticipation for him to go clear.

But unfortunately, Ward’s luck ran out at the very last fence in the first round. Antares F would become one of 10 horses to drop the top rail of fence 14, a tall, airy skinny set four short strides after an imposing oxer.

  

Ward and Antares F clear the first fence on course.

The thud of that rail hitting the grass ended Ward’s bid to defend his title of 2011 champion of this class. He would finish an eventual 12th. With that rail Ward also lost the chance to gun for the Taylor Harris Triple Challenge championship made up of three top American grands prix. Ward won the first leg at Devon in May, and the Grand Prix at The Hampton Classic was the 2nd leg.

“Unfortunately, when he had the last rail down it made it easier for the rest of us,” Farrrington commented. “Guillherme and I were talking before the class today and he asked me how many I thought would be clear; I said low end three high end seven, and that was about how it worked out. There were some time faulters there that were very close to going clear.”

A combination of that tight time and an especially challenging question in the skinny as the final fence created quite a stir, as the majority of riders couldn’t work out how to give it a successful ride. The skinny was preceded by a large oxer that took a big effort to clear, and rode on an approach from a short four strides.

Sweetnam and longtime mount Amaretto D'Arco went for broke in the jumpoff.

“Time was very tight so at the end you had to take your chance at the second last jump, and then the last jump was a finesse jump, it always is with a skinny,” explained second placed finisher Shane Sweetnam. “What I saw was either the second last fence came down, the last fence came down, or you had time faults.”

However, that difficult question made for an exciting class for the thousands of spectators who packed the Classic’s high bleachers and VIP areas. The show is truly unmatched in quality, and is a standout date on the East Coast social calendar for equestrians and non-equestrians alike.

“We have an amazing crowd here,” commented Jorge. “To have a little bit more challenge and less riders in the jumpoff, but a more exciting first round makes it more exciting for the duration of the class. So I built a very careful course where you have to be thinking about the time allowed.”

Farrington and Sweetnam were joined in the jumpoff by Molly Ashe-Cawley aboard Carissimo. Ashe-Cawley rode Carissimo to a 2nd place finish in the American Invitational in Tampa, Florida earlier this spring, and although the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding has since been sold to an amateur in her barn, she successfully paired up with him to contest the grand prix this weekend.

  

Ashe-Cawley seamlessly guided Carissimo to a clear first round.

However, after the second jumpoff fence, Carissimo pulled a shoe, and when Ashe-Cawley turned from a combination of double liverpools to and oxer at fence 13, three fences from home, Carissimo slipped and swam through the oxer.

“I really wanted to circle to be honest, but that’s really hard to do when you’re jumping clear at the time for $250,000!” Ashe-Cawley said. “I feel terrible that he ended up in the middle of the jump, but he really slipped right on the point of the turn and there was no time to solve it.”

However, that was the only fence they had down, making their ride good enough for third place. Sweetnam and Amaretto D’Arco had the same fence in the jumpoff down, but with a faster overall time.

With far better luck in the weather department than last year, when Hurricane Irene nearly derailed the show, The Hampton Classic shone underneath picture perfect skies and temperatures that had cooled just enough from earlier in the week to be pleasantly warm. New York high society rubbed elbows with the top equestrians in the country, and over the top table decorations, Sunday hats and couture were the norm in the crowded VIP tent.

There’s a reason Farrington kept coming back to this show, and it wasn’t just to try for the grand prix win. In one of the most picturesque settings the United States has to offer and surrounded by top notch competition, the Hampton Classic is a show that every equestrian should experience at least once in their lifetime.

Cara Raether and Saskia were one of three pairs to jump clear with a time fault; they finished 4th.

Fifth placed finishers Jonathan McCrea and Colorado raced over the second to last fence in the first round towards home. 

Candice King was thrilled with her clear round and 6th place finish aboard Kismet 50.

Rodrigo Pessoa had two unfortunate rails with Winsome, finishing 17th.

Waiting at the ingate.

Darragh Kerins canters by one of three packed VIP areas.

This decorated VIP table was glorious but also plain in comparison to others that were unabashadly over the top.

And extraordinary hats were de rigour for the females in attendence.

Rider Ki Juan Minors, shown here with wife Courtney Minors, is well known for his talents as a singer. He performed the National Anthem at the Hampton Classic earlier in the week.

Georgina Bloomberg was the center of attention when she arrived. Her father, Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg, was also in atendence. 

Hamptons fashion.

Top Ten - $250,000 FTI Grand Prix & FEI World Cup Qualifier

Rider | Horse | Round 1 faults | Round 2 faults | Round 2 time

  1. Kent Farrington | Voyeur | 0 | 0 | 47.53
  2. Shane Sweetnam | Amaretto D’Arco | 0 | 4 | 48.04
  3. Molly Ashe-Cawley | 0 | 4 | 55.19
  4. Cara Raether | Saskia 269 | 1
  5. Jonathan McCrea | Colorado | 1
  6. Candice King | Kismet 50 | 1
  7. Beezie Madden | Cortes C | 4
  8. Jeffrey Welles | Merlin | 4
  9. Kevin Babington | Mark Q | 4
  10. Christine McCrea | Romantovich Take One | 4

All photos ©Erin Gilmore/ProEquest