Articles: Press Release
Laura Kraut And Anthem Win $100,000 Budweiser AGA Championship, CSI***
presented by Chesapeake Petroleum At The 121st National Horse Show &
Laura Kraut And Anthem
Photo by Flashpoint Photography
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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 Anthem's 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.
"I'm really happy," said Kraut with a grin. "I've never won it before
and I've 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
The starting order of Round One was in reverse order of the rider's
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 wasn't 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 Engle's 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 wasn't as big as we've 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 rider's 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
Kraut said she didn't watch any of the riders go before her and wasn't
aware of Jayne's time. "I know she's a very fast rider so I just really
was competing more with the course. I just said, 'I'm going to go in and
try to jump clear - I'll be as fast as I can be without being dumb," she
laughed, "And it worked in my favor today."
She didn't watch Ward's 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 hadn't even walked the
course and didn't 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 he's number one," she said,
acknowledging her other two famous mounts, Simba Run and Liberty. "He's
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. "It's really exciting. I had a rough night the other
night in the other one, and I'm just happy to have a good, solid clean
round - that's what I was going for," Jayne said, acknowledging her
performance in Friday night's $100,000 Lexus National Horse Show Jumper
Championship where she finished 23rd and incurred 18 faults. "I'm more
comfortable when it's 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. "He's 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 didn't 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 Championship's format. "It was nice. It was kind of
back-to-back - there wasn't a break so he kept his stamina and energy
up." This was the first AGA Championship that Jayne has ever competed
Firestone was also positive about the format. "I didn't mind it at all.
I don't 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. It's 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. "They've done a
fantastic job. Everybody here has really tried hard. It's beautiful. The
field is gorgeous this time of year."
For more information about the 121st National Horse Show & Family
Festival, write to National Horse Show, PO Box 386, Greenvale, NY 11548.
E-mail: NationalHS@aol.com; Phone:
(516) 484-1865; Fax: (516) 484-1982.