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USA wins FEI Nations Cup of Sopot after thriller jump-off

Saturday, 10 June 2017
CSIO5* Sopot 2017

Photo (c) M. Chrzan/FEI Team USA won in Sopot thanks to Chloe Reid, Lauren Hough, Laura Kraut and Paris Sellon here together with Chef d'Equipe Robert Ridland. Photo (c) M. Chrzan/FEI.

Laura Kraut clinched victory for Team USA in the fifth leg of the FEI Nations Cup Europe Division 2 series in Sopot, Poland on Friday. But the 51-year-old double-Olympian had to ride for her life in the edge-of-the-seat third-round jump-off to beat Dutch junior Sanne Thijssen, aged 18, whose breathtaking performances with Con Quidam RB (Quinar x Cardino) had the spectators riveted to their seats.

This was vintage Nations Cup competition; Olaf Petersen Jr’s testing track producing plenty of surprises including an unexpected early exit for experienced sides from Great Britain, Ireland, Norway and Russia along with the Polish hosts at the end of the first round. The Americans were well out in front with just a single time fault at the halfway stage, but the Dutch fought back from fifth place to chase them right down to the wire. 

"He did an unbelievable job, the time-allowed was very tight but doable and the fences fell everywhere. It was big enough and technical enough but you couldn’t ask for a better competition," Laura Kraut commented about the track after producing the only double-clear of the competition. 

Just two faults separated Hungary, Portugal, Czech Republic, Netherlands and Belgium as round two began, and the addition of just two more to their 11-fault total would leave the Dutch on level pegging with the Americans in the closing stages when Aniek Poels with Athene (Berlin x Numero Uno) and Doron Kuipers with Charley (Calido I x Askari) collected single time faults and Thijssen’s spring-heeled stallion jumped spectacularly clear.

Team USA added 12 second time out, Lauren Hough and Waterford (Coolcorron Cool Diamond x Julio Mariner xx) fell victim to the penultimate triple combination and Paris Sellon also faulted there and at the water with Cassandra (Caressini L x Cardento). But 20-year-old Chloe Reid’s rounds with her 10-year-old stallion Codarco (Darco x Orame) were another highlight of a day when young riders simply sparkled, and when this pair followed their first-round clear with just a single mistake then Kraut’s second clear halted the American decline and confirmed a showdown with the Dutch.

Thijssen’s little wonder-horse posted the jump-off target at four faults in 38.03 seconds, and the door was open for Kraut who cranked up the speed after hitting the second fence to post the winning time of 36.29.

Kraut knew what she had to do when following Thijssen against the clock, and said: "Sanne is a great rider, always very fast. Robert Ridland (USA Chef d’Equipe) told me you’ve got a fence to work with so just try to out-race her so that you will beat her even if you have a fence down!"

"He’s special, there are not many horses like him, he’s so careful he wants to jump the course himself and forgets that I’m sitting on him!” Sanne Thijssen said of Con Quidam RB after his fantastic performance. 


Source: Press release from the FEI / Picture © FEI/M. Chrzan

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