White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, USA – October 17, 2021 – The inaugural ArenaMend Classic wrapped up its week of international-level competition with the largest event of the week – the $350,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI 5*. The event featured 30 of the best horse-and-rider combinations throughout the world including dominating competitors such as McLain Ward (USA), Margie Engle (USA), and the notoriously-fast Kent Farrington (USA). The ArenaMend Classic CSI 5* & 2* featured four days of show-jumping at the famously-known Greenbrier Resort and implemented various initiatives to become the first carbon-neutral event of its kind. Riders from various nations flocked to the center of White Sulfur Springs, Virginia for a weekend of premier equestrian competition combined with the luxuries, inclusivity, and family-friendly atmosphere available at what is known as America’s resort.
The final day of competition hosted a variety of two-star level FEI events but saved the best for last with anticipation building for the $350,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI 5*. Course designer Alan Wade (IRL) sized up the skill and experience level of the class’ entries and built accordingly. He created a particularly difficult vertical-oxer-vertical combination that felled many of the field’s best, and set a tight time which left three top riders on only one unfortunate time fault.
Israel’s Ashlee Bond (ISR) was the first to pass through the timers without either time or jump fault to skyrocket into the lead with a clear round. However, with a slew of top athletes still in the line-up, she was ultimately left with four other combinations to contest in the jump-off.
Bond lead the returning pack and, as commentator Steven Wilde stated, laid down a “come and get me” lightning fast jump-off with Little Valley Farm’s 10-year-old Westphalian gelding (Diarado x Lamoureux I) Donatello 141.
The round seemed almost impossible to beat but the USA’s Kent Farrington is no stranger to shaving time off of even the best laid trips. He did exactly that with Take the High Road’s 13-year-old Holsteiner mare (Casall x Corrado I) Austria 2, saving every second possible and shaving a whole 1.33 seconds off of Bond’s optimum time.
Conor Swail put Ireland on the map to round out the top three with Sandy Lupton’s 14-year-old Hannoverian gelding (Count Grannus x Sherlock Holmes) Count Me In.
Final Results – $350,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI 5*
1) Kent Farrington (USA) & Austria 2 – 0 / 0 – 35.94
2) Ashley Bond (ISR) & Donatello – 0 / 0 – 37.26
3) Conor Swail (IRL) & Count Me In – 0 / 0 – 37.87
Source: Press Release by Summer Grace for Flaxen Media for ArenaMend Classic
Photos: © Ashley Neuhof