World No. 8 Kent Farrington (USA) is the first to admit he’s been in a “building phase” with his string over the past couple years. He’s also made it clear, based on his results, that he will be the one to watch in the FEI divisions for years to come with a powerful up-and-coming string taking wins worldwide.
He came in well prepared on Sunday of the second week of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) aboard Toulayna, a 9-year-old Zangersheide mare (Toulon x Parco) he’s been producing for roughly two years. But he also had another top mount in Sunday’s class, a seasoned veteran in Creedance, the 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Lord Z x Notaris) who has taken CSI5* victories across the globe. All eyes in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring were on them both as potential winners.
Farrington jumped clear over Mauricio Garcia’s (PUR) first-round track with both mounts, and he knew each one could be highly competitive. Ultimately, it was Toulayna that clocked in roughly a tenth of a second faster than Creedance, giving Farrington the one-two finish he aimed for.
“I had two horses on opposite sides of the spectrum,” he said of his two mounts in Sunday’s class. “It’s good training for [Toulayna] in a three-star class. Creedance is 16 years old, and I went at the end and thought I’d be a little easier on him and he could cruise. He’s so fast across the ground I knew he’d still get a top finish and we ended up one-two. The plan worked well today.”
It was not an easy task to take those top two spots though, as he had two of 14 qualifiers for the short course. Up against pairs who were thirsty for a grand prix win, Farrington knew the exact ride each of his horses needed to be as fast as they could be. Cathleen Driscoll (USA) fell just short of another FEI victory with Arome, owned by Plain Bay Farm, and took third place.
“[Toulayna] has been great,” Farrington remarked on the mare’s progression into the higher levels of the sport. “She’s really stepped up this year and has already won some grand prixs and jumped some five-star classes. This was an easier week for her compared to what we’ve been doing and I thought she really shined.” Just one of many younger mounts in Farrington’s string, he’s well loaded with up-and-coming talent and prepared to continue to take big wins for years to come.
With a unique talent for identifying young horses, Farrington has given his newest horses time to develop, which is proving successful. “That’s what I try to do in building a team of horses. We call them ‘high-potential young horses’ and we take our time bringing them up,” he explained. “I got [Toulayna] as a 7-year-old and at the beginning of her 8-year-old year I hardly showed at all. I think we went six months of no showing, and then progressed her at the pace I thought she was ready. Now she’s really stepping into gear and I’ve been moving her up and down depending on where we are in the season.”
Farrington has been taking victories in Traverse City for several years, winning the American Gold Cup the very first year it was held at the Flintfields Horse Park. “It’s a great place to spend some time, especially with young horses,” he remarked. “The weather is good, the footing is really good, they have a mix of course builders here and a mix of level of competition. It is great for my young and up and coming horses to be able to move up and down. That’s my plan for the next few weeks.”
With two great results under his belt, Farrington and the rest of the FEI athletes look ahead to CSI2* action during GLEF III.
Also highlighting the final afternoon of GLEF II, the Traverse City Horse Show Charity Ticket Program raised $3,210 for Hospice of Michigan.
Quentin Judge Switches Gears to Win $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Most would expect Quentin Judge to make headlines in the jumper ring, but on Sunday of GLEF II, he took a major victory in the Main Hunter Ring, topping the $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by the Gajoch Family, with HH Eagle Scout.
“HH Eagle Scout is a handy horse,” the elite grand prix rider said of the 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Balou du Rouet owned by Ana Lisa Carr. “He’s really rideable; he was a jumper before he was a hunter so I can really trust him on some turns. I gave him a little time the first two jumps because this is only the second derby he’s ever done but after that he felt great. He really came alive after that second jump.”
Coming into round two, they sat on a 91.25, the third highest score. The pair’s impressive handy score of 94 was enough to propel them to the top and keep them there, with an ultimate final score of 185.25. The score also earned HH Eagle Scout the Platinum Performance Hunter of the Week title.
Vivian Yowan and Sarah Hogan’s Sandstone took second on a 184 total score, while Michael Dennehy and Sheryl Scolnick’s Proud To Be VH claimed third with a score of 181.
Many witnessed Judge and HH Eagle Scout take a top-12 finish in the $100,000 WCHR Central Hunter Spectacular back in June, and others know him for taking top finishes this year in the Performance Hunters.
“A month ago I did my first national derby,” Judge said of the progression of the horse. “He was fourth the first time. He was 50% better this week. He was really relaxed and felt like he knew what he was doing. Any greenness I felt the first time was gone. He’s suited to derbies and he’ll be doing a lot more of them.”
It was Carr who convinced Judge to get back in the hunter tack to ride her adult hunter mount HH Eagle Scout in hunter derbies. “She rides him beautifully but she told me she enjoys watching him go even more than riding him,” Judge said. “He’s won a lot of classes so we thought we’d end with this national derby. He felt like he knew what he was doing and felt like he was made for it.”
It’s been a while since Judge has piloted a top hunter, but he’s enjoying every step, while also piloting top mounts in the jumper rings. “I haven’t ridden hunters in about 10 years,” he remarked. “But riding a nice hunter is fun and he is a nice one. I’m not going to make a huge habit out of it, but a nice one that’s tall enough for me is a lot of fun. It’s good to mix it up and keeps things fresh and less intense.”
Judge and his team at Double H Farm have been in Northern Michigan for five weeks and their extended stay comes to an end after GLEF II, where they picked up several top results.
“We love coming to Traverse City,” Judge continued. “We have a whole group of horses from young horses to grand prix horses, so it’s been fun for us to put them in the right classes. We start small and build them up and give them confidence for the rest of the year. It’s a great family place and great competition. We’ll be coming back here a lot.”
Owen Gajoch and Vietti Take Victory in $5,000 Non-Pro Traverse City Hunter Derby
Owen Gajoch left Traverse City last summer with a new partner, and nearly a year into their partnership, they’re big derby winners already, taking top honors in the $5,000 Non-Pro Traverse City Hunter Derby to close out GLEF II.
“We got him here last year at the end of the circuit from Hillary Johnson,” Gajoch said of Vietti, the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Toulon. “He’s such a sweetheart. He always wants to do his best and behave and gives 10 out of 10 over every jump.”
Gajoch and Vietti posted a score of 89 in round one, which held as the highest score of all 38 entries as round one came to a close. The course design actually played in the pair’s favor, helping Gajoch to earn that high score in the handy round of 91 to seal the deal and take victory.
“We’ve done a few derbies here and there, and we won one other one, but we’ve messed up at the trot jump a few times,” Gajoch explained. “There was no trot jump here to worry about today. It helped break our streak we had.
Gajoch knew handiness wasn’t always easy for this horse because of how high he jumps, but he had a solid plan going in and took just enough risks to earn that high score.
“We had a plan going in and we knew we had to stick with at least three of the inside turns and I did four out of five of them that we were planning on,” he explained. “I had to go around one area just to ease it up and help him stay focused.”
Gajoch first saw this horse on a video on his way to try him, and it was practically love at first sight. “I knew this horse was going to be special,” he said. “He’s got next week off and we’re going to go do the international derby week four and gear up for that.”
Fairytale Ending for John Ingram and Romeo
John Ingram has an impressive string of horses, but working his way up to the top of that string is Romeo, a horse Ingram has had for almost two years but is just getting used to showing. During WCHR week in Traverse City, the duo took the title of Grand 3’6” Amateur-Owner Champion.
“We got Romeo about two years ago and really brought him along slowly,” Ingram said of acquiring the horse. “He he needed some time off and so I really haven’t shown him all that much. Right when I got geared up I broke my collar bone last September and Martha showed him and was champion with him indoors. He’s truly an amazing horse.”
During GLEF II, Romeo and Ingram took top honors in the 3’6″ Amateur-Owner Hunter Stake, one first place and two second place finishes over fences, as well as a win in the under saddle for the overall 3’6” championship along with co-champion Rachel Herkowitz and Harmony. Ingram was also second in the Brawley Farms Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic.
If you asked Ingram what Romeo’s best quality is, he would say, “His consistency. If you stay out of his way he’s really there for you and he is just a winner. The jumps show up on him and I know what he’s going to do. It gives me a great deal of confidence and it’s just joyful being out there with him.”
With his daughter Martha aboard several mounts in the amateur-owner division as well during WCHR week, it’s clear the Ingrams know how to pick top mounts. “I’ve been very fortunate; Tom Wright helps us pick out some quality animals, and I think [Romeo] and Private Practice are top of the list,” Ingram reflected.
Based full time in Nashville, TN, Ingram is pleased to have a break from the heat back home and plans to put some roots down in Northern Michigan, where his family can ride and enjoy the weather, and he can enjoy some additional rounds of golf.
“We’ve been coming to Traverse City for a long time and it gets better and better,” he shared. “I think we’re going to buy a piece of property and build a farm because we make it a point to come here in the summer. We love the weather, we have a great place to stay near the lake, and I’ve joined Lochenheath golf course. To be here, with nice weather, great facilities, and nice people, we really enjoy it.”