Show jumping superstars Laura Kraut (USA) and Cedric jumped to the top of an exciting competition Sunday afternoon in the $125,000 Trump Invitational Grand Prix, presented by Rolex. Held at Donald Trump’s scenic estate, The Mar-a-Lago Club, in Palm Beach, FL, the third annual event featured international show jumping at its best with top finishes for Kraut, Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Brianne Goutal (USA).
Anthony D’Ambrosio, of Red Hook, NY, set the course for Sunday’s competition, which featured 35 horses and riders jumping in a one-of-a-kind setting. With the backdrop of blue skies, palm trees, and sunshine on Florida’s intracoastal waterway, the course saw 13 clear rounds that led to an exciting jump-off with seven double clear entries and a race to the finish.
Callan Solem (USA) and the Torlando Group’s VDL Torlando were the first pair to clear the jump-off course without fault and finished seventh in 43.10 seconds. Alexander Zetterman (SWE) and his own Flecu were faster in 41.83 seconds to place sixth. Margie Engle (USA) and Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek and Gladewinds’ Indigo took the lead in 40.74 seconds to eventually place fourth, and Beezie Madden (USA) and Abigail Wexner’s Vanilla followed with the fifth place round in 41.48 seconds.
The final four riders were some of the fastest in the world and fought hard for a win in the prestigious competition where the option of a very tight inside turn and a gallop to the final fence was the final deciding factor. Darragh Kenny made that turn with Oakland Venture LLC’s Fantasy and was fast and clear in 40.12 seconds to take over the lead from Engle, but he eventually settled for second place. Brianne Goutal (USA) and Remarkable Farms LP’s Ballade van het Indihof were next, and did their best to catch the pair. They stopped the clock in 40.62 seconds to take third place. It was down to the final two.
Back-to-back Trump Invitational winner, Kent Farrington (USA), returned to defend his title after winning the inaugural event in 2013 with Amalaya Investment’s Dynamo and also topping the class in 2014 with Robin Parsky’s Blue Angel, but today was not his day. Farrington opted for a very fast outside turn to the last fence with Blue Angel and slipped in the turn, then had a rail down at the final jump. The pair’s time of 36.31 seconds would have given Farrington his third straight win in the competition, but the unfortunate rail put them in ninth place. Last to go, Laura Kraut and Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc.’s Cedric took the inside turn and came through the timers in 39.96 seconds, just ahead of Kenny and Fantasy, to earn a big win.
Kraut and Cedric, a 17-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Chambertin x Carolus Z), have had a long and illustrious partnership that includes team gold in the 2008 Olympic Games and many grand prix victories over the years. Most recently, they topped the $50,000 Holiday& Horses Grand Prix CSI-W 2* at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in November, but this was a class they had not yet conquered.
“I could not be more pleased with him,” Kraut stated in the press conference. “He is 17 years old, but he feels better than ever. He won his last outing a month ago out in Wellington and he has hardly jumped a fence until today. I gave him a little jump on Wednesday and then he came today and he feels great. I thought this would be a good event for him. I targeted him for this, and he came through. He is just an amazing horse, and we have such a relationship now. I feel like I can call on him, and he is there.”
Heading into the jump-off after seeing Farrington have a rail, Kraut admitted, “Did I breathe easier? Well yes, because Kent is so hard to beat, but I had not seen Darragh and Darragh can be equally fast, so I knew I had my work cut out for me. Actually, when I went through the timers I didn’t think that I had won. Cedric jumped so high through the double that it took me a second to get through that. I was quite relieved when they said I had won.”
“I was a little worried because I knew I had to add a stride down the line, the only line in the course, I had to do six and everyone else did five,” Kraut explained. “I thought I could just make up for it by continuing running everywhere, and he was jumping so high that I didn’t think I would have a fence down. I was fortunate that I watched Kent go before me. Beezie Madden also volunteered that she went around the Rolex clock and she slipped, so when I was in the air over that I thought that if I could just turn really short and pull him almost to a stop and turn, it was probably better than running right around. When you run that fast they are going to probably slip. It was perfect, he stood right up and he turned and went, so I think that is probably what did it.”
Following a great win and a beautiful day in Palm Beach, Kraut praised Donald Trump and Equestrian Sport Productions’ CEO Mark Bellissimo for putting on a fantastic event. With footing challenges in year one, Trump put up the money to redo the turf for the 2014 event. The new footing was put to the test with terrible rains in year two, but everything came together this time around.
“I was going to lead off with how amazing this event has evolved,” Kraut acknowledged. “Finally, on the third year, they got lucky. All of the conditions were perfect. It is probably the best grass footing in the world. I went last in the class and last in the jump-off, and I think I had ground as good as the first ones did. It was perfect. It was an absolutely great event.”
“We all look forward to coming here,” she continued. “It gives us something to shoot for after Christmas to start the year off and it was beautiful today. This is a special event. It is a beautiful location and the fact that Mark and Donald have put this together and put this on right here in Palm Beach, it is absolutely gorgeous. It is a prestigious event to try to win and I am very happy to win it.”
Sunday’s event also served as a kick-off to the season for the 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival. The 12-week circuit, held at the beautiful Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, begins this Wednesday, January 7, and runs through March 29, 2015. During week one, the $75,000 Battle of the Sexes will be held on Saturday, January 10, with gates opening at 6 p.m. The first grand prix of the circuit, featuring $30,000 in prize money, will be held on Sunday, January 11, at 2 p.m.For more information, please visit www.equestriansport.com.
$125,000 Trump Invitational Grand Prix CSI 2*
1. CEDRIC: 1998 Holsteiner gelding by Chambertin x Carolus Z
LAURA KRAUT (USA), Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc: 0/0/39.96
2. FANTASY: 2005 Hanoverian mare by For Pleasure x Acord II
DARRAGH KENNY (IRL), Oakland Ventures LLC: 0/0/40.12
3. BALLADE VAN HET INDIHOF: 2001 BWP mare by Thunder van de Zuuthoeve x Heartbreaker
BRIANNE GOUTAL (USA), Remarkable Farms LP: 0/0/40.67
4. INDIGO: 2000 KWPN gelding by Indoctro x Unknown
MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Griese, Garber, Hidden Creek & Gladewinds: 0/0/40.74
5. VANILLA: 2002 Danish Warmblood mare by Nabab De Reve x Clinton
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/0/41.48
6. FLECU: 2004 Swedish Warmblood gelding by Hip Hop x Flamingo
ALEXANDER ZETTERMAN (SWE), Alexander Zetterman: 0/0/41.83
7. VDL TORLANDO: 2000 KWPN stallion by Corland x Indoctro
CALLAN SOLEM (USA), Torlando Group: 0/0/43.10
8. S I E C LEDGEPOINT: 2001 Holsteiner gelding by Lancer II x Capitol I
GABRIELA MERSHAD (USA), Mershad Stables LLC: 0/2/46.03
9. BLUE ANGEL: 2002 AES mare by Luidam x Ascendant
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Robin Parsky: 0/4/36.81
10. ATLANTA 541: 2005 KWPN mare by For Pleasure x Libero H
MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), Michaels & Beerbaum gmbH: 0/4/37.97
11. MULLAGHDRIN RADO: 2002 Irish Sport Horse gelding by Radolin x Tresor de Mesnil
ALEX GRANATO (USA), Wood Run Farms: 0/4/39.76
12. VERSUS: 2005 Belgian Sport Horse gelding by Moujik de Sohan x Jasper
RAMIRO QUINTANA (ARG), Michael Smith: 0/4/42.59