Palm Beach, FL - January 4, 2015 - 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."
Bellissimo spoke about the day as well, declaring, "It was another great event. The weather could not have been more spectacular given what we experienced last year. I think this event has really grown in stature. Donald has been an amazing partner in this effort, and we have had a number of conversations about how we can take this to the next level. I think we are going to introduce something a little more innovative next year with more prize money. I want to thank Rolex for again being an amazing partner and stepping up to be the title sponsor here as well as the Tisbo family with Suncast, Land Rover, and Carol Sollak at Engel & Völkers. Without their help we could not make this happen. Congratulations to Laura. This is her third year here and the third time is the charm as they say. We are very proud of watching that effort. Margaret Duprey's horse really rose to the occasion."
Trump also praised the winner and was thrilled with another great event. "I want to congratulate the great champions," he stated. "I know Laura really wanted to win this and now she has done it. What a great job you have done. It is bravery and it is talent and it is great horses. It was an honor and I want to congratulate Mark and his family for the fantastic job they do in putting the event on. Likewise, we have an excellent one in Central Park, so we have a couple of beauties."
Trump and Bellissimo put on the first ever Central Park Horse Show in Trump Rink in New York City this September with great success, and look forward to the future of that event, where Kraut along with second and third place finishers Darragh Kenny and Brianne Goutal competed as well. On Sunday, Kenny guided his horse Fantasy to a great jump-off round that just got beat.
"My horse is a little bit greener and younger than Cedric, so I was fighting an uphill battle," Kenny laughed after the class. "She is really talented and I really think a lot of her, but I knew that when I came out of the ring with Kent and Laura going after me, chances are one of them was going to beat me. It was a great class and this it the first year I have actually jumped this class, so it was really enjoyable. The footing is fantastic. The show is brilliant. Donald and Mark do an amazing job with it."
Goutal also had an excellent round with her mare, Ballade van het Indihof, and praised the mare as well as Trump and Bellissimo's efforts in the event.
"It was really special for me because I haven't shown this horse in almost two years," Goutal detailed. "She had some time off due to injuries and it is her first real grand prix back and for sure in the United States, she hasn't been here in almost two years. I was absolutely thrilled with her. She is so amazing."
"The venue is incredible," Goutal continued. "In my opinion and I think most of our opinions, the Trump/Bellissimo team now has, if not the two best shows in the world, two of the best. Tropical venue wise, nothing compares to this one, especially with the footing upgrades and the prestige and everything that's involved. The Central Park show, when you talk about an inner city show, we jump a lot during the year and over the summer in all these big places and in my opinion Central Park is incomparable to anywhere else as well. A huge thank you for those two."
Net proceeds from the Trump Invitational benefit the 2015 Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (FTI GCC), which will be held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center on Saturday, February 7. The pro-am team competition, founded in 2010 by Mark and Katherine Bellissimo and their daughter, Paige, has distributed more than $6.2 million to more than 100 Palm Beach County charities over the past five years.In addition to 28 charities already selected to participate in this year's competition, four more were selected during Sunday's event, including CROS Ministries, Take Stock in Children Palm Beach, Gratitude House, and Leadership Palm Beach County.
Following the Trump Invitational, the future stars of show jumping took their turn in the spotlight. The brightest among them was Sophie Simpson, who guided Riffle Hitch Bloodstock's HC Woopy 14 to best 13 invitational competitors in the $5,000 Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Speed Class.
One of three to leave all rails in their cups and beat the clock, Simpson and her nine-year-old Holsteiner mare crossed the timers in 57.004 seconds. Jumping to second, Addison Geirkink piloted Tiffany, owned by Kadley Holdings, LLC, to a clear trip in 58.369 seconds. Keeping the only clear rounds in the top three, Joyce Green and her own Cassidy stopped the clock at 63.919 seconds for third.
A sale horse purchased by Simpson's mother and trainer Nicole Shahinian-Simpson, HC Woopy 14 confirmed today that she is exactly where they want her to be. "We are in a good spot for the rest of the season," said Simpson. "She is coming along quickly and always looking for the next jump. She's becoming a real competitor and fighter - jumping clean and going fast."
While far from a rookie in the show ring, Simpson jumped for the first time at the Trump Invitational this year and admits she has never experienced a horse show quite like it.
"I was lucky enough to come here and have this experience - it's an odd process to only have one horse at a one-day horse show," she said. "It's different than what we are used to, but so good to have these kinds of classes that bring other types of people into the sport."
Sweetening Simpson's first week of 2015 even further, she participated in the George H. Morris Horsemastership Training Session presented by the USHJA at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center just days prior to debuting at Mar-a-Lago. The experience served her well as she admits to hearing Morris's voice reminding her "where are your feet and pick your hands up" while in the ring.
"I saw him [Morris] on the rail today and thanked him for the week," recalled Simpson. "He said to me, 'I watched your flatwork. It was very, very good' and I thought, okay - I had a successful week."
Seventeen-year-old Simpson is coming off one of her final years as a Junior rider and has already committed to ride for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks come Fall 2016. While being signed to a collegiate team two years in advance is an honor, Simpson humbly gave credit to her team. "I have found that it takes a team to get to the ring. I am very fortunate to have great horses and tons of people supporting and getting me to the ring day to day. I am so lucky," she concluded.
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.
Final Results: $125,000 Trump Invitational Grand Prix CSI 2*, Presented by Rolex
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
Final Results: $5,000 Junior/Amateur Speed Exhibition
1. HC WOOPY 14 SOPHIE SIMPSON RIFFLE HITCH BLOODSTOCK 0/57.004
2. TIFFANY ADDISON GIERKINK KADLEY HOLDINGS, LLC 0/58.369
3. CASSIDY JOYCE GREEN JOYCE GREEN 0/63.919
4. MAN IN BLACK ANDRE MERSHAD ANDRE MERSHAD 4/55.060
5. CASSI KIRA KERKORIAN LISA KERKORKIAN 4/55.313
6. PROMISED LAND MCKAYLA LANGMEIER CANDY TRIBBLE 4/6.546
7. BASIC ALEXANDRA CROWN ALEXANDRA CROWN 4/59.721
8. LOVE HANNAH PATTEN HANNAH PATTEN 4/61.587
9. FIONETRA SOPHIE MORNER LOVSTA STUTERI 4/61.990
10. OSCAR HILARY MCNERNEY HILARY MCNERNEY 4/65.228
11. CARNEVAL TEDDY VLOCK TEDDY VLOCK 4/65.587
12. CHANEL VAN HET LAMBROECK AMY MASTERSON DK MASTERSON HOLDINGS 8/68.759