An hour-break between the previous class and the Champagne Barons de Rothschild Trophy (1.50m), and now we have the stands full, the Prestige Village bustling with a crowd, and a sense of excitement at the Long Beach Convention Center. There is no denying the Masters riders know how to create energy. They were expected to do so by the public, and they did not disappoint. After a vibrant jump-off, the crowd’s favorite, U.S. rider Kent Farrington won ahead of his three competitors with Creedance, his 9-year-old gelding.
With 31 contenders but only four clear-rounds, Uliano Vezzani has set the level very high for the first 5* class of the day. Going first, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat set the bar, signing a fast clear-round and very satisfied with Bianca, declaring her “a future champion” with a smile on his face. But the 2012 Olympic Champion was quickly overtaken by another speed rocket, Kent Farrington. The U.S. rider beat the time by two seconds in a simple and smooth manner, a demonstration of his talent. Jane Richard Philips went for it, gave it all, and the crowd believed in her victory until her time was displayed. The result: five hundredths of a second more than Kent. A tight victory, and yet, “I didn’t run for it that much,” said the U.S. rider. “Last week he did Central Park. I had one down in the jump-off and I hadn’t been happy with the control. He is a small horse so he has to be fighting in the ring to find balance of too much control and him kind of running away with me. So I put a little more riddle on today and I felt it made all the difference. He was really great in the jump-off, very smooth and he never kind of got away with me like he did last week. I could have gone faster though!” We can expect that the pair is one of the competitors to beat in the Longines Grand Prix on Sunday.
Before that, it’s up to the fastest riders in the world with the Longines Speed Challenge. The class begins. In the stands, the spectators hold their breath. Very soon they’ll find out who is the fastest of the circuit!