by Tori Bilas • photos: High Desert Sport Photo
Kent Farrington’s (USA) cross-country trip to the Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) paid off in spades Sunday afternoon as he and Orafina took top call in the $226,000 Adequan® CSI4* Grand Prix to conclude Desert Circuit VI.
With the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (For Fashion x Canturo), Farrington bested a field of six jump-off contenders over Alan Wade’s (IRL) course, winning by a margin of nearly five seconds with Orafina’s unmatched speed.
“Orafina is a very fast horse,” Farrington remarked. “She’s extremely careful and she really doesn’t have a middle speed. There were a few in the jump-off – not a huge amount – but that doesn’t change my strategy. I just tried to do her best round. I thought she jumped incredibly today, both rounds. A great finish to come out with a win.”
Taking second place behind Farrington was Alison Robitaille (USA) with Oakingham’s Lira for Alison Firestone LLC. The duo clocked the second-fastest double-clear ride in their second CSI4* appearance in their year-long partnership.
“I wanted to have a competitive round but I wasn’t going in to beat Kent,” Robitaille said of her strategy with the 10-year-old mare (Tornesch x Del Piero P&B). “I wanted to do, like [Kent] said, my best round for today. She’s a really special horse. Kent found her for me. I’ve been working with him for over a year now and I’m really happy. It’s going great.”
Katie Laurie (AUS) claimed third with Django II, making it a podium full of Olympians. Laurie knows her 11-year-old homebred gelding (Lordano x Brilliant Invader) well and has larger tracks in mind for later in the season, so her strategy was a double-clear ride for third place.
“He’s a really scopey horse but he’s really sensitive,” she said of Django II. “In the past I have tried to run him in these bigger grand prixs and today I thought to stick with the double-clear. He’s got a big summer ahead and has a lot to jump, so I played it safe and thought a nice double-clear would be good for me.”
Farrington was in the winner’s circle at DIHP not long ago, just back in December with Orafina under the lights of the Grand Prix Arena.
“I came here in the winter and I thought it was fabulous,” he said of DIHP. “The group here at Desert International Horse Park has made a great effort to improve the sport. The facility is fantastic, with great footing and great jumps. They’re behind the sport for the right reasons and I like to support that and have a change of pace. I have a younger group of horses coming up so for them to get to go different places and jump in different rings helps develop the horse at the same time.”
One year ago, Orafina was still in development, but she has become a top mount for Farrington, taking wins at the highest level and still early in her career. The difference a year makes, according to Farrington, is “more confidence in her jump-offs now to go a little tighter in the turns than I did before. Her rate of speed is probably the same because she’s always on go, but a little more confident. It’s still not an easy ride. She can still be tough to manage but she’s a fabulous jumper and an incredible athlete.”
Orafina is just his type, something that has been apparent from the beginning and something he admits quite frequently. “[She is] a hyper careful, very sensitive horse,” Farrington said. “That is my favorite type of horse to work with. I think this is the ultimate modern sport horse. There’s a lot of power there, it’s just getting the horse to work with you. To control their power takes time. I’ve been putting in a lot of time and it’s starting to pay off with great results.”
With this great result in his hand, he looks forward to returning to DIHP for future elite competition.
Final Results: $226,000 Adequan® CSI4* Grand Prix
1. ORAFINA: 2012 KWPN mare by For Fashion x Canturo
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Kent Farrington LLC: 0/0/33.91
2. OAKINGHAM LIRA: 2013 mare by Tornesch x Del Piero P&B
ALISON ROBITAILLE (USA), Alison Firestone LLC: 0/0/38.78
3. DJANGO II: 2011 gelding by Lordano x Brilliant Invader
KATIE LAURIE (AUS), Katie Laurie: 0/0/40.70
4. ARMENTOS: 2011 OLDBG gelding by Armitage 2 x Levantos
KAITLIN CAMPBELL (USA), SWS Training & Sales: 0/4/38.53
5. NORTHERN LIGHT: 2011 SWB mare by Plot Blue x Contender
TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN), Artisan Farms, LLC: 0/4/39.05
6. ECHO DE VIRTON: 2010 SBS gelding by Vagabond De La Pomme x Grignoteur De La Fontaine
MARIE VALDAR LONGEM (NOR), Marie Valdar Longem: 0/RT
7. CHADORA LADY: 2013 OS mare by Chacco-Blue x Nintender
NATALIE DEAN (USA), Marigold Sporthorses, LLC: 4/67.51
8. CACTUS DE COSNIERE: 2012 SF gelding by Padock Du Plessis x Flipper D’Elle
ERIC KRAWITT (CAN), Eric Krawitt: 4/68.76
9. BONITA VH KEIZERSHOF Z: 2011 ZANG mare by Bustique x For Pleasure
ALI RAMSAY (CAN), Ramsay Equestrian Inc.: 4/71.57
10. LUIGI VD BISSCHOP: 2011 BWP gelding by Bamako De Muze x Nabab De Reve
MATT ARCHER (USA) Rhys Farms, LLC: 4/73.71
11. LAVALLINO TER KLOMP: 2011 BWP stallion by Clearway x Coriano
JENNIFER WAXMAN (USA), Lost Lake Farm LLC: 4/75.83
12. CLARITY: 2009 HOLST gelding by Clarimo x Ephebe For Ever
GREGORY WATHELET (BEL), An Breeding: 8/70.65