Lauren Hough and Casadora Only Double Clear to Win
$75,000 Green Cove Springs World Cup Qualifier

Green Cove Springs, FL – January 20, 2008

Sydney Olympics veteran Lauren Hough of Wellington, FL partnered with Casadora took on a field of 25 best of the best in the show jumping world and claimed victory as the only double clear pair, winning the $75,000 Green Cove Springs CSI-W Grand Prix presented by Glen Kernan Golf & Country Club.
Nearly 3500 spectators were treated to an all star event with riders representing the Olympics, World Equestrian Games, Pan Am Games, Samsung Super League and of course World Cup championships. All taking on last year’s defending champion Olympic veteran Margie Goldstein Engle and the technical challenge presented by course designer Dave Ballard in the hope of moving one step closer to the FEI (Federation Equestre Internationale-governing body for all Olympic sports) World Cup finals in Sweden this April.

Ballard, whose home base is Toronto, Canada, is known globally for creating some of the most technical and unique layouts in the sport of show jumping including the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA, the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg, Canada, and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Tonight’s first round of 14 obstacles demonstrated why the O Class designer is so highly regarded. Dave explained how a new mandate from the FEI called for a closer relationship in degree of difficulty around the world in all the competition [World Cup] classes affected this evening’s layout. “I have built a higher and wider course than I have in the past.” he said pointedly. With a time allowance of 78 seconds to navigate tight roll backs, combinations, and the often feared triple bars, all set between 1.45M and 1.60M (maximum width 5’3”) the biggest hurdle was making it through clean. “I have done this class for the last 3 years and I have to tell you” Dave addressed the audience, “that tonight without question we have the best field of riders and horses that this competition has ever presented to you.” During his description of the course Ballard hinted that “the meat of the course” would begin at fence #5 a triple bar, “the distance is a little short” and “of course the triple combination at fences 13ABC-with only 6 strides coming into the first vertical and the real tester being the middle 5’3” wide oxer, with ALL WHITE rails (which can be optically deceiving to the horse) with a liverpool beneath.” The first horse to take on Ballard’s test did fall victim to the predicted trouble of the triple combination. Lauren and Casadora were only the fifth out of the starters to make it clear in a time of 75.47. “You know, always in the beginning of the year things look a little more difficult than maybe they are.”a smiling Lauren went on to say of the first round, “this mare’s had almost two months off on holiday but she performed well last night (finishing 2nd). I felt quite confident but it was a tougher course tonight, as it should be for a World Cup Qualifier. The triple caught quite few but going towards the end of the order helped.” she added with a grin.

Lauren Hough and Casadora
Photo: Flashpoint Photography

From the starting field only 6 made it back to compete in the exciting dash for the cash jump off round. An abbreviated course of 6 jumps-7 efforts and a time limit of 45 seconds made round two all about the need for speed. Among those returning was the defending champion Margie Goldstein Engle and Hidden Creek’s Quervo Gold whose first round finished in a time 74.97. With precious points and a nice paycheck on the line the pressure mounted a bit more for the others who knew Margie and Gold would give 200 percent of their talent to win. “Going towards the end of the jump off was certainly an advantage!” commented tonight’s winner. First to return was Danielle Torano aboard the Sir Ruly, Inc owned Vancouver D’Auvrey setting the pace in a quick 39.83 but with an unfortunate rail coming down costing them 4 faults. Next in were the returning champions Margie and Quervo (owned by Hidden Creek Farm) who despite valiant efforts suffered a disappointing 12 faults in a time of 42.03 seconds. Three time World Cup Finals Champion Rodrigo Pessoa entered the arena to a host of cheers with the Double H Farm owned Rufus, returning with the fastest first round time of 71.11, the question soon became would one rail thudding the ground despite a wicked time of 36.09 be enough to win. Canadian great Mac Cone riding Ole for owners Sara Houstown and Larry Evoy looked poised to be the first double clear ride of the night until the top rail of the last jump dropped as the timer stopped on 38.41 seconds.

“With only one behind me, certainly a very good one too, I felt I needed to go fast but still be a bit cautious to get a clear round.” Lauren shared her thoughts when crossing the end gate. The 12 year-old mare owned by Meredith and Laura Mateo did not disappoint her partner of 4 years, she crossed the timers clear in 38.41 seconds. “When I finished I was happy with my rounds but felt maybe I opened the door a little bit.” Last man standing in wait was Cedric piloted by Olympic veteran Laura Kraut for owners Happy Hill Farm. The pair appeared flawless until their approach to the last line, be it a little spook or a refusal even Laura isn’t sure but sadly the cost of a penalty applied giving them a final time of 43.70 with 4 faults. “I didn’t see what happened to Laura but it’s unfortunate. You always need a little luck in this sport.” Lauren said of her victory and added, “It’s always nice to start off the year with a win!” She and Casadora are hoping to go on to the World Cup Finals so this win may be just the boost in the standings to help fulfill their wish. When asked about Casadora, Lauren beamed and said, “I love her! I’m so lucky to have her! She always steps right up to the plate!” And what’s next for this winning duo? Traveling tonight to Wellington in order to prep for the World Cup trials there in late February. Lauren is working to qualify both Casadora and 9 year-old Quick Study for the finals. “He’s young but I believe he’s got what it takes.” she said of the scopey gelding coming up.

Official results for top five of this evening’s premiere event were as follows; in second place Rodrigo Pessoa with Rufus finishing with 4 faults in 36.09, third place went to Mac Cone and Ole also with 4 faults in a time of 38.20, fourth place went to Danielle Torano aboard Vancouver D’Auvrey with 4 faults in 39.83 and in the fifth position Laura Kraut riding Cedric to a 4 fault finish in 43.70 seconds.
Presenting awards to this evening’s winners were North Florida Hunter Jumper Association President Tony Weight, Kathy Weigman-the Sales and Marketing Director for Hodges Blvd Development Group, and Robin Stoney of Classic Company. Tony spoke about the evening’s events, “We couldn’t have asked for a more exciting group of competitors! Or a better sponsor, we can’t begin to express our appreciation to the Kernan’s. Each year they contribute in more ways to help ensure the growth and success of this event. And our sincere gratitude to Chuck Leavell for taking time to speak about the conservation project…and entertain us with his music too. Also Patty and Joe Kelbert, who once again out did themselves with the FEI Reception bringing the wonderful tastes of their restaurant Le Pavillon to our riders and guests. It’s been a terrific first week!”

The Jacksonville Winter Series continues through February 10th with classes Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 8AM until about 5PM and Grand Prix excitement each Saturday evening. Admission to the shows are free, a $5 donation is requested for special events, which in turn is given to various local charities.

For more information or results on the 2008 Jacksonville Winter Series please visit or call the show office at 904-284-9492.



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