Kent Farrington hopes to make further strides at Spruce Meadows
Canada's Eric Lamaze riding recent wave of success into final weekend of competition
Former world No. 1 jumper Kent Farrington has no doubt he'll return to the top of his sport.
After spending a year as the rider to beat, the 37-year-old American fell out of the coveted spot atop the world rankings while rehabilitating a broken leg suffered in February.
Farrington wasted no time in returning to high-level competition in May, but 12 weeks without any event results dropped him down to sixth.
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Ahead of the North American at Spruce Meadows this weekend in Calgary, he isn't sweating the work he has ahead of him.
"That's not really something that I doubt because I think it's a marathon, not a sprint," Farrington told CBC Sports when asked whether he believed he would return to the pinnacle of his sport.
"I'm always just eager to do my best, be my best, make the horses the best that they can be and wherever that ends up, I'm going to be happy with that. But I think I'm going to get there."
Saturday's 1.60-metre ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup will give Farrington another chance to test that resolve.
He'll be going for a three-peat in that event with his 12-year-old mare Gazelle. In order to succeed, Farrington will have to bounce back from a disappointing result at the same height in competition last weekend.
The pair did not finish Sunday's Pan American Cup but were victorious in early June in the National's RBC Grand Prix.
Lamaze continues to impress
Another former No.1 will be aiming to continue his climb, as Canada's Eric Lamaze has been enjoying a recent string of success at Spruce Meadows.
The Schomberg, Ont., native has won three events aboard three different horses in the past month, including the Continental Grand Prix three weeks ago with his Olympic mount Fine Lady 5. His results helped him jump from 11th to fourth in the world rankings.
Lamaze could also threaten in Sunday's 1.45m Sun Life Financial Derby, a challenging specialty class that is often dominated by American veteran Richard Spooner.
Last season, Spooner and his then 19-year-old gelding Cristallo became the first horse-rider combination to win both of Spruce Meadows' derbies in the same summer.
Spooner could repeat as a winner with a new partner, after claiming June's CNOOC Nexen Cup with his nine-year-old gelding Quirado Rc. Spruce Meadows changed the format of the opening weekend this season, opting to move away from ending the National in June with a derby class.
True to form, Spooner is coming off a speed event win in last weekend's 1.50m AKITA Drilling Charge with 13-year-old stallion Arthos R. Either horse could prove to be another strong partner to help Spooner close out action at Spruce Meadows this weekend.