Kent Farrington won the $75,000 GroupBy ‘Big Ben’ Challenge on Friday, November 11, to close out the CSI4*-W Royal Horse Show, held as part of the 94th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, ON.
In front of a sold-out crowd of more than 6,000 people, 21 riders challenged the final international show jumping event of the 2016 Royal Horse Show. A total of seven jumped clear over the huge track set by course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral of Portugal, but none could match the daring performance of Farrington and Creedance, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Lord Z x Notaris) owned in partnership with RGC Farm.
“There were some really nice horses jumping here tonight,” said Farrington who was competing at the Royal Horse Show following a five-year absence. “More than anything, more than winning, I’m thrilled with the progress of the horse. I feel like he’s on track to become a very good grand prix horse.”
Farrington and Creedance posted a blistering jump-off time of 31.86 seconds that could not be matched. Reigning Olympic Champions Nick Skelton of Great Britain and Big Star, owned by Oliver Robertson and Gary and Beverley Widdowson, came the closest, stopping the clock in 33.55 seconds.
“There was no way I could beat Kent so I went for second,” said Skelton who has been attending The Royal since the late 1970s. “They have a great crowd here that really takes part in and enjoys the show. I like coming here; it’s one of my favorite indoor shows.”
Of the final test set by course designer Cabral, Farrington said, “I thought it was a creative course using three doubles instead of a triple, which we see all the time in indoor jumping.
“This is a really classy horse, and he’s learning at each show,” continued Farrington who is aiming Creedance at the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final to be held from March 29 to April 2 in Omaha, Nebraska. “He’s a little bit special and very, very sensitive, so loud noises and things like that really set him off. I thought maybe these indoor shows would be a little bit of an adventure, but he’s really settled down now and he’s handling it nicely.”
Following five days of top-caliber international competition, three-time U.S. Olympic medalist McLain Ward was presented as the Leading International Rider. Ward’s trip to Toronto was highlighted by a dominating win in the $130,270 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Toronto on Wednesday night riding HH Azur for owners Double H Farm and Francois Mathy.