October 25, 2013--The 2013 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) continued on Thursday with the first day of classes for the Junior Hunters and several International Open Jumper and Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper classes at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
The International Open Jumpers had two classes with a win for Kent Farrington (USA) and Robin Parksy's Blue Angel in the $33,000 International Open Jumper Welcome Stake. Top honors in the $20,000 Gambler's Choice costume class went to Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Sweet Oak Farm's Solerina. The Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers competed as well with a win for Cloe Hymowitz and Rose Hill Farm's Bon Vivant in the Low division and Charlotte Jacobs aboard Deeridge Farms' Kachina in the High division.
WIHS continues through Sunday, October 27, with lots of exciting action throughout the weekend. Highlights include the $25,000 Puissance sponsored by The Boeing Company on Friday, October 25, and the $125,000 President's Cup Grand Prix, a FEI World Cup qualifier presented by Events DC, on Saturday, October 26. All evening performances will begin at 7 p.m. EST.
In addition to the competition, Thursday was the always popular "Barn Night," presented by Dover Saddlery. Barn Night at WIHS is a favorite with local young riders and horse enthusiasts who attend in groups and have a chance to enter contests, win big prizes, and enjoy a fun, horse-filled evening.
Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela is the course designer for the jumpers this week at WIHS. In the day's $33,000 Welcome Stake, Palacios saw 30 entries contest his first round course with ten advancing to the jump-off. Eight of those were also clear over the short course, and Kent Farrington and the 11-year-old Anglo European mare Blue Angel (by Luidam) raced to victory in 31.38 seconds to win The Ben O'Meara Memorial Challenge Trophy.
Beezie Madden (USA) and Coral Reef Ranch's Coral Reef Via Volo finished second with a time of 31.47 seconds. Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) and Ludo Philippaerts' Cortez placed third in 32.49 seconds, and Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Postage Stamp Farm LLC's Prof de la Roque were fourth in 32.57 seconds.
Blue Angel has been a top mount for Farrington this year and continues to prove herself as a powerful international competitor. "I think she was always a good horse, we just got to know each other a little bit better and she has become more consistent," he said of the mare's development. "She kind of started off good and has only gotten better."
Farrington has been competing at WIHS for many years, winning the WIHS Equitation Finals as a junior in 1999, and continuing on into his professional career. He explained that the atmosphere and environment of showing indoors makes this an exciting competition each year.
"I love showing indoors. I think it is a lot of fun," Farrington stated. "It is all fast tracks, and usually there is a pretty good crowd. In general, the indoor shows get a good attendance. You come here with your best horses, and you just focus on those and there is always good competition, so I enjoy that."
Blue Angel seemed to enjoy showing indoors as well and Farrington noted that the environment fits her style. "She is very quick," he said. "She is great in that she can add a stride very quickly, and she has a very soft mouth. I think that is a big advantage inside, so I think it suits the horse."
For the jump-off, Farrington chose a plan that played to his horse's strengths and she stepped up to the plate. "With that horse, I just try really not to get too much in her way and have a quick track," he detailed. "She is not always the best at rolling back to fences, so from fence one to two I went a little bit wide with more pace probably than some of the other riders did just because that suited the horse. Then once she is in gear, I can kind of just let her go."
Blue Angel is the only horse Farrington will show this week and he plans to now save her for Saturday night's $125,000 President's Cup Grand Prix. He looks forward to seeing what Palacios has planned on course.