Edited Press Release
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 in the $425,000 Lugano Diamonds CSI5* Grand Prix.
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 they 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.
“I know that Laura’s horse is very quick, and Contagious is fast across the ground but a little slow in the air. I tried everything I could, and I didn’t leave anything on the table,” he said. “I did see one less to the second-to-last, looking through the gazebo, but it was such a blind turn and he has a tendency to go a little to the right. I thought it was too risky, and to be frank I thought maybe I had done enough already.
“You never want to win because someone else messed up, you want to win because you were the best and you did better,” continued Ward. “Contagious is incredible because he’s always very careful, but I never really expected him to do everything he’s done. I think at the end of the day the horse is a little bit of a lion. He rises and he fights with you, and he’s really been a great partner to me.”
Sweetnam rounded out the podium on a horse that’s 10 but brimming with potential. “I’m very happy with [James Kann Cruz]. Every time I jump with him, I feel I have a chance, and every class I can go a bit quicker. We’re sat up here with two Olympic horses, so I couldn’t be happier,” Sweetnam said.
To close the evening, winning groom and Baloutinue’s caretaker Margo Thomas was honored with the $500 Grooms Award, presented by Double H Farm, by Claire Stevenson and Caroline McLeese of Double H Farm.
Original press release from https://wellingtoninternational.com.
Top five results: Lugano Diamonds CSI5* Grand Prix
- Laura Kraut (USA) & Baloutinue: 2010 Hanoverian gelding (Balou du Rouet x Landor S)
Owner: St. Bride’s Farm
- Mclain Ward (USA) & Contagious: 2009 Zwelbrücker gelding (Contagion x For Keeps)
Owner: Beechwood Stables, LLC
- Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & James Kann Cruz: 2013 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Kannan x Cruising)
Owner: Gizmo Partners, LLC
- Daniel Coyle (IRL) & Gisborne VDL: 2011 Dutch Warmblood stallion (VDL Zirocco Blue x Goodtimes)
Owner: Ariel Grange
- Brian Moggre (USA) & MTM Vivre le Reve: 2009 Westphalian gelding (Ustinov x Chello II)
Owner: Major Wager, LLC
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