Kent Farrington and Uceko. (Photo © Spruce Meadows Media Service).
The ‘North American’ Tournament at Spruce Meadows continued on Friday with two feature competitions hosted in the International Ring and a win for USA’s Kent Farrington and RCG Farm’s Uceko in the highlight $50,000 Lafarge Cup 1.50m. Also competing on Friday, Mario Deslauriers took a big win in the $34,000 Pepsi Challenge 1.45m riding Lisa Deslauriers’ Scout de la Cense.
Continuing through Sunday, July 5, the ‘North American’ Tournament boasts $1.3 million in prize money across 14 FEI events throughout the week. Highlights include the $400,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Saturday and the $210,000 Cenovus Energy Classic Derby on Sunday.
Spain’s Santiago Varela continued a successful week of course building with the $50,000 Lafarge Cup Friday evening. The competition saw 33 entries, with seven in the jump-off and three double clear rounds.
Emanuel Andrade (VEN) set the pace with a clear track in 44.39 seconds to place third with his own Bon Jovi. Kent Farrington and Uceko were next to clear the short course in a blistering pace of 42.22 seconds to take the win. Eric Lamaze (CAN) did his best to catch the time with Artisan Farms LLC’s Fine Lady 5, but finished just off the mark in 42.35 seconds to finish seconds.
In a very fast jump-off, Farrington knew he had to lay it all on the line with Lamaze coming right behind and three more riders to follow.
“These classes, especially the ones that do not have the most entries, the ones that are good are not just good, they are usually great,” Farrington stated. “You have some of the best riders in the world, so it is very difficult to win a class here.”
“The horse is very brave,” Farrington said of Uceko. “He has quite a big step, so I think right from the beginning (of the jump-off), fence one to two on his rollback was already pretty aggressive. I did not watch the others, but I would probably guess that he did at least one, if not two less strides on that turn. Then across the middle of the field he also makes up a lot of ground because his stride is so long. I would say those are two places in particular I think he always gets a little bit ahead of the other horses.”
Uceko, a Dutch Warmblood gelding (Celano x Koriander), is 14 years old and Farrington has been careful to manage his schedule and choose the appropriate venues to compete in.
“I think that part of being a top rider is also being a top manager of the horses that you have,” Farrington noted. “As he gets older, I try to pick the venues where I think he can shine and give him rests where I do not think he is as competitive. I gave him a big break. I hardly ever show him in Florida, and I usually gear him up here and then take him to Europe the rest of the summer.”
Speaking of the success that Uceko has had at Spruce Meadows and why the horse excels in this particular venue, Farrington explained, “The jumps are very big here and really impressive, and that suits the horse because he can get a little casual. He is not a naturally fast horse actually, he is a bit slow, so a big field makes him competitive because I can use the length of his stride and turn really short to make him fast out here.”
“He has learned to be very fast,” Farrington continued. “Over the years he has learned to turn shorter to the fences and watch for them. With his experience, he knows when I open him up on the field that the jumps are going to come up fast, so he starts anticipating the fences and he starts looking for them himself, which over time has made him super competitive.”
Final Results: $50,000 Lafarge Cup 1.50m
1. $16,500 UCEKO Dutch Warmblood / G / 14 Celano x Koriander KENT FARRINGTON (USA) WELLINGTON, FL RCG Farm: 0/0/42.22
2. $10,000 FINE LADY 5 Hanoverian / M / 12 Forsyth x Hauptstutbuch ERIC LAMAZE (CAN) SCHOMBERG, ON Artisan Farms, LLC: 0/0/42.35
3. $7,500 BON JOVI / G / 9 Verdi x Corland EMANUEL ANDRADE (VEN) WELLINGTON, FL Emanuel Andrade: 0/0/44.39
4. $5,000 BRIGHTON / G / 9 Contendro II x Quick Star TIFFANY FOSTER (CAN) SCHOMBERG, ON Artisan Farms, LLC: 0/4/48.13
5. $3,000 PLUME DE LA ROQUE Selle Francais / M / 12 Kannan x Adelfos BEN ASSELIN (CAN) CALGARY, AB Attache Stables: 0/8/43.04
6. $2,250 HH MEMPHIS Irish Sport Horse / G / 9 Armitage x Cruising QUENTIN JUDGE (USA) WELLINGTON, FL Double H Farm: 0/8/45.55
7. $1,500 PUBLIC VIEW Rheinlander / G / 9 Prado x Landadel FRANCOIS ESTEVES (BRA) BRA Francois Esteves: 0/12/49.95
8. $1,250 MATADOR Dutch Warmblood / S / 13 Indoctro x Corland JAIME AZCARRAGA (MEX) MEXICO CITY Jaime Azcarraga & Family: 1/78.22
9. $1,000 SF ARIANTHA Dutch Warmblood / M / 10 Corland x Emillion ANDRES RODRIGUEZ (VEN) WELLINGTON, FL Olivia Cox-Fill: 1/78.75
10. $1,000 STAR LA TUILIERE Selle Francais / M / 9 Dollar de la Pierre x Quick Star KARA CHAD (CAN) CALGARY, AB Stone Ridge: 4/73.92
11. $500 BREITLING LS Warmblood / S / 9 Quintero x Accord II BEEZIE MADDEN (USA) CAZENOVIA, NY Abigail Wexner: 4/74.96
12. $500 G&C CLOSE UP Dutch Warmblood / G / 8 Eurocommerce Wastington x Cobra
LUIS LARRAZABAL (VEN) WESTON, FL Gustavo Mirabal: 4/75.24
Source: Spruce Meadows Media Service