Kent Farrington won tonight’s grand prix in Lyon, the 2nd round of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final.
The US rider was 7th to go out of a remarkable 21 riders through to the jump-off, but managed to set an unbeatable target of 39.69sec on the 12-year-old Voyeur.
“I was happy with my horse no matter where we ended up, but it’s always great to win,” said Kent, who is now equal 10th in the overall standings. “I tried to do my own plan and not get wrapped up in points and so on. He’s a careful horse and tries his heart out.”
Riders are given points for their placings in last night’s speed leg and tonight’s grand prix. These are now transformed into penalties and carried forward into Monday’s final decider.
Swiss Olympic champion Steve Guerdat took 2nd tonight (40.29sec) with Nino Des Buissonnets and lies in joint 1st position in the overall standings, tied with the home side’s Patrice Delaveau, who was 5th tonight on Lacrimoso HDC. Steve and Patrice will both start on 0 penalties on Monday.
Steve said: “My horse is jumping very well, but a couple of times in the 1st round he was over-careful. He jumped too high in the triple combination and made my life difficult keeping him under control, so hopefully he’ll calm down a bit for the final on Monday as if it’s bigger I’ll need a better round.”
Defending champions Beezie Madden and Simon were just behind on 40.35sec for third for the US. They are tied for 4th in the overall rankings with Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum and Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer, with Germany’s Daniel Deusser holding 3rd.
Both British riders in the final, Michael Whitaker and Scott Brash, recorded 1st round clears. But while Michael and Viking faltered with fences 7a and 5 down in the jump-off, Scott and Ursula XII put in a fantastic round to take 6th place in 42.16sec.
Scott now lies equal 7th in the overall rankings with 2 other riders and starts Monday on 5 penalties, just over 1 fence behind the leaders.
“I couldn’t have asked any more from her. I didn’t go crazy fast today so I should have kept her right for the last day,” he said.
Unfortunately Ireland’s Billy Twomey was unable to build on his success yesterday, knocking down fences 2 and 13 in the 1st round with Tinka’s Serenade.
Last night’s winner Pius Schwizer had the 1st part of the double down in the jump-off with Toulago, dropping to 15th in this class and falling down the overall standings from 1st to equal 4th.
Controversy over time allowed
With 21 riders in the jump-off, competitors struggled to know what tactics to use, aware that a single pole down could drop them right out of contention.
Controversy erupted at the press conference when course-designer Frank Rothenberger attributed the high number of clears to the time allowed not being tight enough. The judges and designer have leeway to adjust the time after a few horses have competed, but on this occasion the judges did not want the time changed.
FEI director of jumping John Roche intervened to say that the course should be correctly measured and the time set according to the required speed, as per the rules — that if the time allowed is too lenient, the required speed should be changed, rather than the time allowed being altered on an ad hoc basis.
Steve Guerdat questioned whether the World Cup final is the right time to apply this strictly for the 1st time.
John added that this is on the agenda for a meeting of top course-designers tomorrow.
Full report on the FEI World Cup finals in H&H this week, out Thursday, 24 April.