U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington has found yet another leading lady in Toulayna with a win in the $226,000 Horseware Ireland CSI4* Grand Prix under the glow of ‘Saturday Night Lights’. Befitting of St. Patrick’s Day week, the event highlighted Week 10 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) at Wellington International in Wellington, FL.
Stepping up to the biggest test of her career to date, the nine-year-old Zangersheide mare could not be caught over the Andy Christiansen Jr. (USA) designed jump-off track and ticked the box for her first grand prix win. Nine horses advanced to the tie-breaking short course where the lead changed five times.
“This is definitely the biggest track she’s jumped,” said Farrington of the mare that was also third in the NetJets CSI4* Grand Prix during WEF 3. “I have high hopes for this horse. She’s fast, careful and everything I like in a show jumper.”
Farrington’s Tokyo teammate Jessica Springsteen set the pace as the first clear round aboard her Olympic mount Don Juan van de Donkhoeve for owner Stone Hill Farm. Their time of 39.58 seconds was soon eclipsed by fellow U.S. rider Lillie Keenan on Chansonette Farm’s Agana van het Gerendal Z in 39.10 seconds.
Ireland’s sole representative in the Horseware Ireland Grand Prix was Darragh Kenny in the irons of Amsterdam 27. They stole the lead from Keenan and stopped the clock at 38.94 seconds before Nicole Shahinian-Simpson took it back for the U.S. in 37.94 seconds. Farrington did just enough to seal the deal by stopping the timers at 37.38 seconds.
“I’m very confident on this horse and that’s the way I like to do it; get them when they are young and produce them myself so I know them quite well,” said Farrington, who has been with Toulayna since the mare’s seven-year-old year. “Even if they are green stepping up to this level, I know where I can take a shot.
“[Toulayna] is extremely sharp and I was very quick to the verticals,” continued Farrington of his jump-off round. “Taking a run down to that single is probably where I made up some time. She has a big stride, but I wasn’t sure if I could get eight strides to the last jump. She jumped so strong out of the double, it was easy.”
Farrington has set high expectations for Toulayna. Ones that she is already meeting. “She’s a very high strung horse with a lot of blood and very sharp, but I try to keep the horses fresh and interested in the job because it’s a long season here. She’s done four weeks this season and I think that’s plenty. We will hit the trails now and just chill out.”
Shahinian-Simpson finished the runner-up on the spirited mare Akuna Mattata, owned by Carol Rosenstein and Silver Raven Farms. Kenny rounded out the top three for owner Vlock Show Stables with Keenan and Springsteen capping the top five, respectively.
A third member of the U.S. team from the Tokyo Olympic games, Laura Kraut had the time beat but pulled a rail at the final fence of the jump-off to take sixth. Kraut, a Horseware Ireland sponsored rider was the defending champion of the Horseware Ireland CSI4* Grand Prix after winning the title in 2022 on Confu.
The Horseware Ireland CSI4* Grand Prix highlighted WEF 10 with thrilling competition. Nina Filette, Horseware Sponsorship and Events Executive, said, “We have a long history with Wellington. We have been sponsors for many years, and it gets bigger and better every year. It’s a pleasure to be here and it’s one of our main shows on the calendar every year. It was an exciting jump-off, and the sport is incredible every week.”
Farrington was presented as winner of the $226,000 Horseware Ireland CSI4* Grand Prix by Filette and Erin Gregory, Marketing Coordinator at Horseware Ireland. To close the evening, winning groom and Toulayna’s caretaker Denise Moriarty was honored with the $500 Grooms Award, presented by Double H Farm’s Quentin Judge and Cayce Harrison.
Top Five Results: $226,000 Horseware Ireland CSI4* Grand Prix
- Kent Farrington (USA) & Toulayna: 2014 Zangersheide mare (Toulon x Parco)
Owner: Kent Farrington & Rabbit Root Stables
- Nicole Shahinian-Simpson (USA) & Akuna Mattata: 2008 Holsteiner mare (Quinar Z x Landwind II)
Owner: Carol Rosenstein & Silver Raven Farms
- Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Amsterdam 27: 2010 Holsteiner gelding (Catoki x Acord II)
Owner: Vlock Show Stables
- Lillie Keenan (USA) & Agana van het Gerendal Z: 2011 Zangersheide stallion (Aganix du Seigneur x Topas)
Owner: Chansonette Farm
- Jessica Springsteen (USA) & Don Juan van de Donkhoeve: 2009 SBS stallion (Bamako de Muze x Heartbreaker)
Owner: Stone Hill Farm
Catch Me Caught Top Spot in NetJets 3'3" Amateur-Owner Hunter Division
Becky Gochman and the ever impressive Catch Me sat at the top of the NetJets 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunter 36 & Over division leaderboard during Week 10 at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) with a 92 over fences on Saturday.
Gochman and Catch Me, a 2007 Holsteiner gelding by Casiro I, came back from a bobble in the first class over fences with redemption on their mind. “Going into today I was hoping for a clean sweep after winning three classes yesterday, but it was not to be due to total rider error,” said Gochman, whose determination clinched wins in all but the one effort with a pair of 88s and a win under saddle on Friday. “I forgot where I was going at the last jump and was very disappointed – even my horse was surprised when I pulled him up. He knew something wasn’t quite right.
“[Going into the second class] I told myself to slow my brain down,” said Gochman. “Even at age 16 my horse was getting down the lines a little early, so I went in for the second round and was able to relax and he jumped beautifully. I’m incredibly thankful for him and my team.”
Gochman’s trophy case is overflowing thanks to Catch Me, a mount that’s been a part of the Gochman family for nearly 10 years.
“Riding Sloopy is like riding no other horse; he is so completely soft in his mouth with his trademark white rubber bit” said Gochman of the mount that has carried her trainer Scott Stewart in the professional divisions as well as her daughters in the junior hunters.
“He never even touches the bit, is smooth and loves to show,” continued Gochman. “I feel elegant when riding him. He makes you feel like a superstar because of his smooth movement, his dignity, and character. He takes great pride in what he does which makes me proud as a rider.”
Gochman will give Catch Me a week off before finishing the season strong during WEF 12 in the Amateur-Owner ranks.