Laura Kraut and Miss
Independent Win Again,
WELLINGTON, FL, March 8 -
Laura Kraut of Wellington, FL, and her veteran mount Miss Independent made their second trip to the winner's circle this week when they beat a field of 11 in the jump-off for the $25,000 CN Jumper Classic. The class was held Saturday afternoon during the CSIO5* CN Wellington Open, week eight of the CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Course designer Jose Gamarra of Bolivia set the track, which included 13 numbered obstacles in the first round. Out of 52 entries in the class, 11 found the key to a clear round. The jump-off had only 7 jumps, but they were spread out around the ring and offered opportunities for long galloping approaches. Fence 9a-b-c was shortened to just the b-c elements in the jump-off.
The first to go in the opening round and the first to return for the jump-off was Ireland's Conor Swail on Gold Digger. They had a rail at fence 9c, but finished with the second fastest time of the day in 38.601 seconds. Their time would hold up for fifth place in the class. Nicole Simpson of Wellington, Fla., and Tomorrow made a bid for the lead but were denied when the final jump on course came down. Simpson finished in 43.874 seconds and in seventh place.
The lead changed hands with the next competitor, Carolyn Kelly and her speedy grey mare Rulanda. Kelly flew from fence one to two in the jump-off and was handy through the final two rollbacks on course to finish with no faults in a time of 39.909 seconds.
Irish Olympian Kevin Babington and Souvenir dropped a rail at 9b to finish with four faults in 45.774 seconds while Kraut and her first horse, Canecko Z, had two rails for eight faults and a time of 44.289 seconds, leaving them both out of the running.
Another Irishman, Darragh Kerins, was able to score a clear round on Double H Farm's Toscane R, but his slower time of 44.257 seconds would eventually place him fourth in the overall standings.
U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Beezie Madden (USA) was the next challenger riding Onlight. They had a speedy time of 39.378 seconds, but the last two fences on course came down, placing them tenth.
Moving up in the order while Kraut schooled her second mount, Richard Moloney and Aristide were next in the ring. Yet again, the final fence came down and their time of 44.299 seconds resulted in an eventual eighth place finish. Joining the four-fault group as well was Katherine Miracle riding Miss Liberty 7, who fell victim to the final vertical jump. Their time of 41.701 seconds gave them sixth place.
next in with Miss Independent, her faithful mount from the 2006 World
Equestrian Games (WEG) in Aachen, Germany. They were fast throughout
the course and were very quick through the last two rollbacks. Miss
Independent stopped the timers in 37.789 seconds with the fastest
time of the day and no faults.
Miss Independent has recently returned to the competition ring following an injury and won her first class of the year two weeks ago, the $20,000 Absorbine Myoplast 1.50m Classic. Following Saturday's win in the $25,000 CN Jumper Classic, Kraut said the grey mare felt better than ever.
"I was just telling one of her owners that she feels 50 times better than she did a few weeks ago when she won," Kraut revealed. "She felt stronger and more energetic. I think she's hopefully ready to start jumping some 1.60m classes in the next few weeks."
Kraut did not see Kelly's quick round, but had a plan to go very fast from fence one to two. "I know she's fast," Kraut said of Kelly. "I didn't know if I could beat her, but I was going to give it a try."
Miss Independent answered all the questions on course, and Kraut is excited to have her top horse back in form. "She turned really well, and I thought she made a very good cut back to 16 and back to the last (jump)," Kraut explained. "I'm just thrilled. Confidence-wise, for both of us, it's great. I rode poorly the other day and had a mishap in the triple (combination). She came back today as strong as ever, so I was happy."
The CSIO5* CN Open concludes on Sunday with the $150,000 CN US Open Jumping Championship, presented by Cosequin, which also acts as the fifth and final United States Show Jumping Team Selection Trials for the 2008 Olympic Games.
Results of Class 201 - $25,000 CN Jumper Classic
Results of Class 105 - 1.50m Classic CSIO
Results of Class 1062 - Jr Jumper High II 1
The 2008 CN Winter Equestrian Festival attracts the best horses and riders from around the world to Wellington and offers more than $5 million in prize money. For more information, visit www.equestriansport.com