November 2, 2007 -- Riding early in the competition can be a disadvantage. Not for 26-year-old Kent Farrington on Up Chiqui who won the $65,000 Budweiser Prix de Penn National World Cup qualifier at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show October 27 going away. Eleven horses qualified for the jump-off from a field of 32.
Full galloping the length of the arena from a high spread, Farrington turned taking another oxer of nearly 5' at a surgically slim angle, wheeling around at the ring's end to hurtle over a vertical and open gallop back down the ring to launch over the last oxer. It electrified the crowd. He stopped the clock at 37.24 seconds. Now the wait started, nine others were aiming at his time.
"McLain Ward with Larioso is always fast. So is Beezie Madden especially on Authentic, so I didn't think my time would hold," he said, "but Alex Warner and I decided to take a shot. If I took a rail down, then I took a rail, but at least I was going for it."
Madden dropped a rail and became the fastest for the 4-faulters. Ward riding last was definitely in the hunt. Charging round the ring, executing near pirouettes to cut corners, he opened up between the final two fences. Larioso's ears were pinned and the crowd was cheering when Ward checked a couple of strides out from the fence.
Whether he did it because he wanted Larioso's full attention or if he saw the distance as slightly off, the price was steep. Larioso cleared the final jump, but the clock stopped at 38.17, just 9/10 of a second slower than Up Chiqui.
Guillerme Jorge's course sorted the field clearly, despite the number of clean first rounds. Seven contestants retired before finishing the course. The middle vertical of the triple combination was lowered by an inch or so which made a difference, according to Farrington.
"My horse is full of energy. He has a big heart and seems willing to jump as bigger and bigger fences," he said. "I have a great team behind me: my owners, Boone/Dobbs/McNerney/Bass as well as Alex Warner. It was just awesome. Another night it might have gone the other way, but not tonight."