Laura Kraut: Going for Gold Again
By Halie Greening
Laura Kraut strode into the Show Manager’s Office with a smile on her face and some definite pep in her step, if she was nervous about the second Observation Event that would help determine the team for the 2012 Olympics, it didn’t show. Laura and Cedric, the brilliant grey 14 year-old gelding who are currently ranked 4th on the Olympic Show Jumping Team’s long list, will do their best to prove they should make the trip to London.
Right off the bat Laura expressed her love for the sport asserting that the best part being a Grand Prix rider isn’t the fame or the tremendous places she gets to travel, “the best part is the horses.” The opportunity to be a part of one of the strongest duos in show jumping, and having a horse as extraordinary as Cedric is definitely something to be thankful for.
As Laura signed her and her pal Cedric’s name on the Breyer model of Cedric, I enjoyed a great conversation with the 2008 Olympic U.S. Team gold medalist about her goals for the future for herself and some potential new rides. She is currently riding the 9 year-old KWPN Dutch Warmblood, Woodstock O as well as the striking Belmont. Although these horses have some very high standards to live up to, Devon Horse Show managers David Distler and Peter Doubleday concurred that these horses are both “really cool.” Hopefully their “coolness” carries through as Kraut has great faith that they will live up to her other superb rides. If all goes well she plans to take them to The World Equestrian Games of 2014 in France, and the 2016 Olympic Games to take place in Rio de Janeiro . Laura also has high hopes for her student Jessica Springsteen. The Olympic rider and trainer proudly acknowledged Springsteen’s astounding talent, and when asked if Jessica would follow in Laura’s footsteps making an Olympic journey, Laura beamed, “She definitely has the capability. If she has the desire she can do whatever she wants.”
It’s been a bit of a bumpy journey for Laura Kraut on her road to the Olympics, almost loosing her ride Cedric, when the Wetherill’s decided they would put him up for sale. With luck on her side and her realistic outlook, she remains on the Olympic road with the outstanding gelding that has already taken her so far. This afternoon she will prepare for the observation event no differently than she does for any other event with an hour exercise ride a few hours before the class. Laura, who has made her first trip back to Devon this year in quite some time, chose this Observation Event here because she felt it most resembles the Olympic venue and undoubtedly has the best atmosphere. Laura assured us she would remain no stranger to Devon and would most definitely be joining us at the 2013 Devon Horse Show. We all look forward to seeing her come back; with a great Olympic story to share.
Day Ten: A/O Champs
By Halie Greening
After the treacherous rainstorm Friday evening, a sunny second to last day of Devon was much needed, and an omen of good luck for the Olympic Observation event to take place later in the day. The Amateur Owner Hunter Division of 18-35 year olds took the ring first jumping an exquisite 3’6” course, with their stakes class following then the Amateur Owner Hunter Championship awarded to the horse that has acquired the greatest number of points from their division. The Amateur Owner Hunter Division of over 35 years of age followed right after in the same order of events.
After a surfeit of entries had there go around, Jaime Auletto won every class she entered this morning in her 18-35 years of age division; taking the blue for the second consecutive year in the $1,500 Amateur Owner Hunter class, blue in the $2,000 Amateur Owner Hunter Stake, and proudly jogged her way back into the ring to cordially accept the Amateur Owner Hunter Championship with an astounding overall accumulation of points of 36 that she racked up with her handsome bay gelding Winnetoe. A successful day for Auletto didn’t end just yet; she made her presence in the ring once again to win the prestigious title of Devon Grand Amateur Owner Hunter Championship.
The older division made great strides in the Dixon Oval, but dominating the first class- the $1,500 Amateur Owner Hunter was Becky Gochman. Gochman, who is certainly no stranger to the ring, proudly jogged Sambalino in and she left with a smile on her face and a blue ribbon on Sambalino’s. Gochman settled for second place in the next class, the $2,000 Amateur Owner Hunter Stake by half a point. Taking first place was Janie Andrew of Rancho Mirage, CA and her horse Ante Up. The Duo clenched the win with a score of 85. Gochman may have missed the win of that class but her and Sambalino returned to the ring to get their picture taken with their tri-color for their title of Amateur Owner Hunter Championship.
Open Jumper Stake Proves Challenging
The horse/rider combinations on the long list took to the Dixon Oval for the second of the U.S. Show Jumping Team Observations Events. The very exacting course designed by Michel Vailliancourt included a water jump that added a new level of difficulty. Beezie Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo started off with a stunning clean round but the course would prove much trickier for the next several riders. McLain Ward and Antares F turned in a great time, but unfortunately dropped a rail. The next several rounds were marked by faults, with the water jump wreaking as much havoc as the rails.
Charlie Jayne and Chill R Z were the ninth combination to enter the ring and while he didn’t drop a rail and cleared the water jump, he did have a time fault. Madden again had three horses showing and Coral Reef Via Volo was not eligible for the money. With no jump-off the first round concluded with Jayne taking the blue and adding his name to the Wanamaker Trophy. Second went to Ward, third to Christine McCrea on Romantovich Take One, fourth to Mario DesLauriers on Urico and fifth to Margie Engle on Indigo.
Open Jumper Champion is awarded to the horse with the greatest number of points, this year going to Quointreau un Prince with Laura Chapot winning for the third consecutive year laying claim once again to the Little Big Man Challenge Trophy. Leading Open Jumper Rider is awarded to the rider with the greatest number of points and went to McLain Ward.
With one Observation Event left, at Spruce Meadows next week, many of the long-listers are now playing the waiting game. Ward, Madden and others will have their final opportunity to earn a place on the team. After Spruce Meadows, the four selectors, who will have attended all four Observation Events, will meet with Chef d’Equipe, George Morris and his successor Robert Ridland to determine the four team members and the first alternate (of two) who will travel to London.