Laura Kraut And Anthem Win $100,000 Budweiser AGA Championship, CSI*** presented by Chesapeake Petroleum At The 121st National Horse Show & Family Festival
WELLINGTON, FL December 5, 2004
Laura Kraut, 39, of Oconomowoc, WI, aboard her 2000 Sydney Olympic Games mount Anthem won the $100,000 Budweiser AGA Championship, CSI*** presented by Chesapeake Petroleum, topping a field of 26 horses in Wellington, FL, today. Only two riders were able to post double-clear performances in this two-round Championship, and Kraut was the faster clear in the second round. Olympian Kraut marked another historic notch in her career today the victory was the first time she has ever won the AGA (American Grandprix Association) Championship. Kraut earned $30,000 for Anthems owners, the Summit Syndicate, and was named Leading Jumper Rider of the show. Anthem earned the Leading Horse honors. Maggie Jayne, 20, of Elgin, IL, aboard Jubulent owned by Alex R. Jayne, the only other double-clear, placed second, earning $22,000. Alison Firestone, 28, of Upperville, VA, riding Casanova for owners Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone, placed third as the faster of two four-faulters in Round Two, and earned $13,000. Im really happy, said Kraut with a grin. Ive never won it before and Ive been in a lot of them. My first one was in 1987.
The Championship was held in front of a capacity crowd surrounding the grass Internationale Arena at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club and was the finale event of the six-day 121st National Horse Show & Family Festival.
The starting order of Round One was in reverse order of the riders finish in the AGA Rider of the Year standings with the exception of the winner of the 2003 AGA Championship, Margie Engle, going last. Conrad Homfeld of Southampton, NY, designed the course. He built 14 jumps, which included a double at Fence 6 and a triple at 13. Time was re-adjusted to 86 seconds after the first two riders jumped clean. Unlike a Grand Prix with a jump-off, in this FEI format, faults and time penalties incurred in Round One were added and only the top eight riders, or all the clear rounds, whichever proved to be greater up to a total of 16 horses, advanced to the second round.
Jayne led and clocked in fault-free at 84.39 seconds, followed by Eric Flameng aboard Roxanne who crossed the timers in 81.40. The next 10 riders all had faults until Molly Ashe with Resolute went clean in 85.62, followed two rides later by a clear trip from Schuyler Riley with Ilian in 81.15. Going 19th in the order, Georgina Bloomberg aboard Riviera added her name to the good list in 84.86. It wasnt until five rides later that the clears came again Firestone in 83.23, followed by Kraut in 82.18, and then McLain Ward with Quick Star II Z in 79.29. Last to go, Engle took to the field aboard Animagus and the crowd cheered her entrance she is the eight-time AGA Rider of the Year and three-time winner of this AGA Championship. However, today was not Engles day and she had the first element of the triple combination down for four faults in 79.02 seconds.
Kraut was enthusiastic about the Round One course. I loved it. It was nice. It probably wasnt as big as weve seen some courses but Conrad, once again, is amazing. He got eight clears exactly how many they wanted to come back.
The order of go for the second round was determined by the riders time in the first round, with the slower riders going first. Homfeld built a shortened course, but it was still 11 jumps and included two double combinations. Time Allowed was set at 77 seconds.
Ashe led off but had two rails down in 62.46 seconds. Bloomberg followed, knocking down one fence for four faults in 62.85. Jayne posted the first clear in 65.33 and had the lead. Firestone tumbled one obstacle for four faults in 61.25. Then Kraut raced the course in 58.82, and the rest of the field had to chase her time. Flameng crashed through one fence and had another rail for eight faults in 73.14. Riley also had eight in 60.21. The final rider to challenge, Olympic Team Silver Medallist McLain Ward zipped around the track in the fastest time, 55.47, but had the last two fences down for eight faults. The final placings Kraut, almost seven seconds faster than Jayne, placed first; Jayne claimed second; Firestone as the faster of the two four-faulters took third over Bloomberg who earned fourth; and the four eight-faulters were Ward in fifth, Riley in sixth, Ashe in seventh, and Flameng in eighth place.
Kraut said she didnt watch any of the riders go before her and wasnt aware of Jaynes time. I know shes a very fast rider so I just really was competing more with the course. I just said, Im going to go in and try to jump clear Ill be as fast as I can be without being dumb, she laughed, And it worked in my favor today.
She didnt watch Wards trip and joked that she prayed while he jumped. I was neat and efficient but I was definitely beatable, said Kraut. I needed a little luck. Ironically, Kraut had originally imported Quick Star and rode her successfully for a year before selling her to Ward. Kraut has been partnered with Anthem for five years.
Assessing how she managed to put in such a fast Round Two, Kraut said, I tried to just be smooth. She said she held up to the first double, but galloped from 10 to 11, the last two fences and thanked Firestone for her advice as Firestone was leaving the ring she told Kraut that it was possible to do eight rather than nine strides down the last line (Firestone had done the nine). Kraut said she hadnt even walked the course and didnt have a number in mind her plan was to just ride it off her eye. So as I jumped over the Sea World (#10), I thought, Well, here goes it! And thanks to her, it worked, Kraut explained.
Kraut also credited her horse. In my mind hes number one, she said, acknowledging her other two famous mounts, Simba Run and Liberty. Hes been long-lasting and he tries to do well every time he goes into the ring. Anthem is a 13-year-old Dutch warmblood gelding.
Second place finisher Jayne found the results of the class a good confidence builder. Its really exciting. I had a rough night the other night in the other one, and Im just happy to have a good, solid clean round thats what I was going for, Jayne said, acknowledging her performance in Friday nights $100,000 Lexus National Horse Show Jumper Championship where she finished 23rd and incurred 18 faults. Im more comfortable when its in the afternoon and not at night.
Jayne has been riding Jubulent, a 13-year-old warmblood, for nearly four years and made her Grand Prix level debut aboard him two years ago in Wellington. My plan in the second round was to be pretty tidy, she said. Hes not a really fast horse, but I wanted to be clean. She said she tried to keep her riding smooth and not get rough, and she didnt go as fast as she could go. No, when I did junior jumpers that was fast. At this pace, I was trying to keep his confidence up. Jayne said she liked the Championships format. It was nice. It was kind of back-to-back there wasnt a break so he kept his stamina and energy up. This was the first AGA Championship that Jayne has ever competed in.
Firestone was also positive about the format. I didnt mind it at all. I dont find it too much different. I always felt that this class is a hard class to have the double-clean in. Even though it was technically a jump-off, it was still quite a difficult track, sort of a Second Round type of jump-off. Its not a huge contrast to me, said Firestone.
All three riders were positive about the National Horse Show & Family Festival in Wellington. Jayne commented that the atmosphere is more relaxed because there are less rings in action than during the Winter Equestrian Festival. Firestone preferred the dates this year, with the show scheduled after the Thanksgiving Holiday. I really enjoyed it this year, said Kraut who also preferred the new date. Theyve done a fantastic job. Everybody here has really tried hard. Its beautiful. The field is gorgeous this time of year.
121ST NATIONAL HORSE SHOW
& FAMILY FESTIVAL FAST FACTS
TICKETS: 866-NHS-SHOW or on the web at www.nhs.org
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