Gamble Pays Off for Hough and Team AXA Wins Corporate Challenge

Syracuse, NY, November 4, 2005:

Gambling paid off for Lauren Hough in the $15,000 CN Gambler’s Choice, Friday night’s first competition at the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament. Hough, on Ottaline, was the second-to-last to go in a field of 22 riders in the crowd-pleasing event in which riders, and sometimes their horses as well, compete in costume. The Gambler’s Choice format allows riders to choose their own course to accumulate the maximum number of points they can in the time allowed. Different jumps are worth different point values. At the end, each rider has the choice of jumping the “Joker” fence, tonight set at 5’ 5” by course designer Richard Jeffery, which either adds 200 points to their score or subtracts the same amount. Laura Kraut set the pace on Joyous but was not able to hold the lead. Hough, appropriately dressed as Wonder Woman, kept the crowd guessing but in the end stole the blue ribbon. Ottaline knocked the top rail of the Joker, bouncing it out of the cups that held it in place – and right back into them. Kraut went home with second and Margie Engle on Callipo 12 earned third.

Team AXA, Michael Whitaker, Cara Raether, Lauren Hough, Aaron Vale and Joe Fargis (from left to right) won the $42,000 Syracuse Corporate Team Challenge Friday night at the Oncenter
Photo: Randi Muster
“Wonder Woman” Lauren Hough Gambled Right in Friday night’s Gambler’s Choice costume class at the Syracuse Invitational
Credit: Randi Muster

In the second competition of the night, the $42,000 Syracuse Corporate Team Challenge, team AXA, which consisted of Cara Raether, Joe Fargis, Aaron Vale, Lauren Hough and Michael Whitaker took first place. Only the best three scores counted and team AXA won handily, after a difficult start when Cara Raether was eliminated because of a fall. In the end, AXA was the only team with three fault-free riders (Fargis, Vale and Hough). The winner of the individual competition was a member of team Granny’s Kitchens. Norman Dello Joio on Quriel was faultless with the fastest time of the 27 horses that competed. Aaron Vale on Luigi was second and Lauren Hough on Casadora was third.

Both of Friday night’s competitions count toward points to compete in the Animal Planet Sporthorse Cup on Sunday. The top six, plus the winner of Saturday's $75,000 Budweiser World Cup Qualifier of Syracuse, qualify. The top-ten standings after Friday night are:

Rider                     Points to Date
Lauren Hough       205
Aaron Vale            182
 Leslie Howard      180
Beezie Madden     178
Schuyler Riley       172
Harrie Smolders   170
Jimmy Torano       167
Michael Whitaker 164
Callan Solem         159
Christine McCrea 159

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