Rotterdam, Netherlands - June 26, 2013 - It was a showdown of the top caliber riders on Friday, June 21, as the 13th leg of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup, presented by Longines, took center stage at the 65th CHIO Rotterdam. Dutch course designer Louis Konickx challenged eight international teams with his course, but the impressive all-female team from the United States did not back down from the challenge. Laura Kraut and Cherry Knoll Farm's Cedric helped secure a team total of five faults alongside teammates Beezie Madden, Lauren Hough and Lucy Davis. The U.S. took the second place position behind Germany, with only one point separating the two teams.
The U.S. Team had only four-faults to their name after Lucy Davis riding Old Oak Farm's Barron and Beezie Madden riding Abigail Wexner's Cortes 'C' produced fault free efforts, Kraut incurred four faults at the open water the first round, and was able to discard a previously earned eight-fault score from Hough, who was the first to traverse the track.
"We had a little bit of a spook on the line going to the water," explained Kraut. "Cedric wasn't spooking at the water, he didn't even know it was there, he was spooking at these watches that had a shine on them from the light. It scared him and he actually bolted away. I didn't think I would get him to the water because he was running away, but once he saw the water, he actually aimed back at it. Unfortunately we were at an awkward angle, and it was near impossible to get across."
With four faults carrying into the second round, the United States fell two points behind Germany and one point ahead of Spain, Switzerland and France. As it happens all to often, the competition began to thin as the rails fell during the second round. The young Lucy Davis rode to two double-clear efforts, pushing the U.S. Team into the top three as they were in final contention with Germany and France.
Hough recovered nicely in the second round with Quick Study, only earning one time fault, and then Kraut was the next to enter the ring. She was able to lay down a beautiful clear effort, even though the display once again caught Cedric off guard. Kraut's ride to the water was superlative as she expected his unease. The team was guaranteed the score of five or lower, pushing them into the second place position, and possibly the victory.
"Cedric jumped fantastic out there," Kraut said. "The second round he still spooked again at the watches, but he knew the water was there, so he allowed me to steer him back to it. That time I knew it was coming, the first time he took me completely off guard. He hasn't done something like that in a really long time-he was extra fresh this week at the horse show, and he was really jumping out there."
The finish turned into a nail-biting moment for the sport of show jumping. Madden was the final U.S. rider to take on the course, but an eight-fault total secured the team with a total of five faults for the day's efforts. If Ludger Beerbaum was able to complete the second round course without a rail, Germany would take the win.
Beerbaum took his time around the track, and although his conservancy left all rails in place, it proved suspenseful as the U.S. looked on at the possibility of a jump-off. Beerbaum rode to the final total of two time faults, avoiding a jump-off, and sealing Germany's win.
"I was very optimistic coming to Rotterdam because I thought we had a great team," Kraut explained. "Beezie and Lauren looked great, and Lucy is a phenomenal rider. I didn't know her horse very well, but everyone spoke very highly of it, and they did fantastic. I thought we had a very solid team. We were darn close to winning it - it was tight, but a lot of fun. It was crazy how close it was."
Later in the week, Kraut jumped to two double-clear rounds during the Grand Prix of Rotterdam. The course, also designed by the Netherland's Louis Konickx, utilized 16 efforts, and opted for a very tight time allowed of 84 seconds. In the jump off, 10 clear riders were faced with seven obstacles, hoping to finding the quickest track and score the win.
Kraut was able to jump clear during the first round course in 82.83 seconds with Cedric, owned by Cherry Knoll Farm, Inc., and soon faced the task of the second round track. Although Kraut was able to leave all of the rails in place and navigate quickly through the course by cutting turns and slicing fences, her time of 34.85 seconds earned the pair the fourth place position.
Germany's Philipp Weishaupt and Monte Bellini took the victory with their untouchable time of 33.72 seconds, while Roger Yves Bost (FRA) and Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois earned the second place in 34.11 seconds. Kevin Staut (FRA) and Silvana HDC rounded out the top three.
"It was just one of those jump offs, one of the ones where you keep galloping, but the place to leave one out never showed," Kraut described. "In that company of horses and riders, that just isn't good enough. I was pleased that he went double clear, and earned fourth, but I was hoping to win it since I was second last year. He jumped great though, and I feel very good going into Aachen."
From Rotterdam, the dynamic duo is heading to the CHIO Aachen 2013 World Equestrian Festival. For more information on the Longines Global Champions Tour where Kraut currently ranks first, please visit http://www.globalchampionstour.com/events/. To keep up to date with the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ please visit http://www.fei.org/.