Laura Kraut Notches CSI5* Victory in Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix at Wellington International
Wellington International was brimming with horse sport fans on the edge of their seats Saturday night as top show jumping talent from across the globe jumped for the $425,000 Lugano Diamonds CSI5* Grand Prix title. The Winter Equestrian Festival’s (WEF) Week 7, sponsored by Lugano Diamonds, saw U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Laura Kraut and her Tokyo Games partner Baloutinue take the top spot.
From a seven-horse jump-off, the stage was set for a U.S. battle as Kraut, Brian Moggre and Mclain Ward were the final three to jump off. Course designer Steve Stephens (USA) tested them in true five-star fashion, which got the best of Moggre and longtime partner MTM Vivre le Reve as the pulled a brick from the wall to eventually finish fifth. Kraut’s winning time of 40.26 seconds stood after Ward gave his best aboard Contagious, but finished just three tenths shy of the winner’s mark.
“I knew it was going to be difficult,” said Kraut. “The track he built was big and the oxers were really wide. For me, I thought it was probably the scopiest course we had this year, and I was happy with what I saw.”
Ward settled for second behind his U.S. teammate, also in the irons of his 2020 Olympic mount, the 13-year-old Zwelbrücker gelding (Contagion x For Keeps) owned by Beechwood Stables, LLC. Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam set the clear-round standard in the jump-off aboard his superstar 10-year-old Irish-bred gelding, James Kann Cruz (Kannan x Cruising) and finished third for owners Gizmo Partners, LLC.
Jumping to fourth, fellow Irishman Daniel Coyle piloted Gisborne VDL to a career-high finish at the CSI5* level for the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (VDL Zirocco Blue x Goodtimes) owned by Ariel Grange.
Kraut beamed as she clinched a five-star victory in Wellington after knocking on the door several times recently. “I’ve not had many successful jump-offs and I’ve not jumped very many with him,” said Kraut of Baloutinue, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Balou du Rouet x Landor S) owned by St. Bride’s Farm. “I always try to go faster than I probably should, but he’s fast enough on his own, and tonight I just let him go his speed and that seemed to work better.
“He’s a trier, he’s elastic and he’s very careful,” she continued. “It was a fantastic crowd; the atmosphere here at night is as good as it gets. We feel like the crowd is really behind us; when I was clear it was an explosion.”
Kraut admitted that there was no resting easy outside the ring while Ward took to the track as the final rider in the jump-off order. Her lead held strong, however, after Ward noted that he gave it the best he had.