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Kraut leads U.S. to victory in Mexico

Saturday, 29 April 2023
CSIO5* San Miguel de Allende 2023

Photo © FEI/Mackenzie Clark Team USA won the CSIO5* Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Mexico: Jessica Springsteen, Laura Kraut, Chef d'Equipe Robert Ridland, Kent Farrington and Bliss Heers. Photo © FEI/Mackenzie Clark.


Edited press release from FEI by Catie Staszak



As the second round of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ of Mexico winded down, a large amount of pressure was mounted on Laura Kraut's (USA) shoulders. If Kraut, last to go, produced a clear round, the United States would jump-off for victory against defending champions, Mexico. 

Kraut would not only produce that critical clear effort aboard her championship partner Baloutinue (Balou du Rouet x Landor S), but she would also go on to secure the victory for her team in a two-horse jump-off with Mexico's Eugenio Garza Perez. She shared victory with Kent Farrington and Landon (Comilfo Plus Z x Quadrillo), Jessica Springsteen and Don Juan van de Donkhoeve (Bamako de Muze x Heartbreaker) as well as Bliss Heers and Antidote de Mars (Diamant de Semilly x Jarnac).

Kraut and Baloutinue, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding, produced the only double-clear over Benjamin Fernandez's (MEX) 1.60m track. In the jump-off, they were clear again, with a winning time of 39.43 seconds. Garza secured second for Mexico aboard Contago (Cornet Obolensky x Cassini II) with a jump-off time of 42.13 seconds. Both teams finished the second round on total scores of eight faults. Canada was third with 20 faults.

Photo © FEI/Mackenzie Clark. Laura Kraut and Baloutinue secured the win for USA with three clear rounds. Photo © FEI/Mackenzie Clark.

"When Laura went in for the second round, I said, 'We need two clear rounds out of you, starting now!' That wasn't counting her first one. We had already made that decision [that she would jump-off if she was clear]," Chef d'Equipe Robert Ridland (USA) said.

After the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2022 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Finals, Ridland entered the 2023 season with an aggressive strategy. He brought forward four of the country's best combinations to Mexico with an eye toward getting the better of the home nation, who had won four of the last five editions of the event on home soil. 

"This planning really happened at the beginning of the year. We knew what was ahead of us, long-range, to qualify for the [2024] Olympics in Paris, and this was a huge step to get there," Ridland said. "We needed to bring experience. We have some young riders in the mix as well, but we had to bring our 'A' team."

Three of the U.S.'s four team members are Olympic medalists, and each of those athletes—Kraut, Farrington, and Springsteen—delivered at least one clear round on the day. After the first round, the Americans led on a score of four faults, but rails from Springsteen and Heers in round two—and clear efforts from Garza Perez, Nicolas Pizarro and Pia Contra (Conthargos x Chacco-Blue) as well as Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane and Hortensia van de Leeuwerk (Corland x Argentinus)—leveled the playing field. 

Photo © FEI/Mackenzie Clark Kent Farrington and Landon, clear in round two for the American team. Photo © FEI/Mackenzie Clark.

In the jump-off, it was footspeed that proved to be the greatest difference-maker.  

"We watched Eugenio go, and as I was walking in the ring, Kent said, 'Your normal speed will be quick enough,'" Kraut said. "So when I started, I went maybe a touch quicker than my normal speed."

"I couldn't be happier with him. He's probably a horse of a lifetime," she added. "That's a big statement, because I've had some incredible horses."

The United States takes an early lead in the North and Central America and Caribbean division of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ with 100 points. Mexico sits second with 90 points, and Canada is third with 80 points. The division continues on 14 May 2023 in San Juan Capistrano (USA).  

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