Charlotte Jumper Classic, CSI***** Wrap-Up
RELEASE: April 17, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Jennifer Wood
In some of the most exciting show jumping action that the United States has seen, it was Laura Kraut of Wellington, FL, and Anthem who stayed clear through three rounds to win the $500,000 Grand Prix of Charlotte, CSI***** for the Charlotte Bobcats Cup. Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa and Rufus finished second, while Chris Kappler of New Jersey was third on VDL Oranta. Ben Maher of Great Britain with Rolette rounded out the group that competed in the jump-off and finished in fourth place.
The courses were designed by Steve Stephens of Palmetto, FL. In the first round of 38 entries, it took 15 trips until the great crowd at the Time Warner Cable Arena saw a clear trip. Earlier, Eric Lamaze of Canada and Hickstead were clear, but they accrued one time fault. Pessoa and Rufus, owned by Double H Farm, were the first completely clear round. Nine other riders would join Pessoa to come back for the second round. In the first round, there were nine riders with just four faults. In the second round, four were clear to advance to the jump-off.
Pessoa had the difficult task of being the first back for the jump-off as well. He and Rufus were great to the first and second jumps, and when he landed easily from the oxer, Pessoa made a split second decision to go inside the pillars that were set approximately six feet away from the jump he had just landed from. Rufus made the turn and had only a few strides to get to the next vertical. He made it clear through the one stride and made the righthand rollback to the next oxer, then continued through the long run down the ring to the final oxer. Rufus finished with no faults in a time of 36.74 seconds to start the jump-off with a bang.
2000 Olympic rider Kraut and Anthem, a 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, followed Pessoa. Kraut did not make the same difficult turn after the second jump, but instead went around the pillars quickly. They stayed to the right of the oxer on their way to the one stride, and after the fifth jump, Anthem dug in through the turn as Kraut pulled through the short rollback. Kraut positively galloped flat out to the final oxer and left long to the last jump. Anthem soared over the final oxer and to the screams of the crowd, stopped the timers in 34.83 seconds to take the lead.
Afterward, Kraut pointed out, "I'm just lucky because he's fast. He has so much experience that he's helpful in the jump-off."
2004 Olympic Team Gold medalist Chris Kappler and VDL Oranta were quick and neat through the turns of the jump-off, and the grey mare jumped brilliantly throughout. Kappler took a more controlled pace to the final fence and finished in 36.84 seconds with a third clean round, and he finished in third place.
The final one in was Maher and Rolette. Their turns looked to be a bit slower, but they finished in a speedy time of 35.48 seconds. The time was not enough to win however, because they had a rail at jump 5 and finished with four faults.
This was a new experience for Rufus, who has only been showing at the grand prix level for a year. It was old hat for Pessoa, who was the 2004 Olympic Individual Gold medalist. "It's always difficult to go first. You try to put (in) a good time," he said. "Laura was really good today, and her horse jumped amazing. She deserved to win. I'm really happy with the performance of my horse. I'm really pleased with how he jumped today with three rounds, and our team is really happy with second place today."
About her win, Kraut remarked, "I'm a bit in shock right now. I was just happy to make the top 10. I figured I'd come away with a little bit of money and a nice weekend here. I'm quite surprised and happy."
Kraut was elated to have done well in the $500,000 Grand Prix of Charlotte and noted that this event sets an incredible precedent in the sport of show jumping. "It's tremendous for us anywhere in the world to have this kind of prize money," Kraut said. "Thi