Lausanne, Switzerland—Sept. 15
U.S. rider Laura Kraut triumphed in one of the most electrifying grand prixs of the Global Champions Tour season.
This was the debut of a Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in Switzerland, and Kraut defeated some of the world’s best on the 14-year-old grey Cedric, even beating her partner and British Olympic team gold medalist Nick Skelton in the jump-off. “I am over the moon. I’m very happy, very excited. I was not expecting this,” Kraut said.
“Cedric just felt really on form tonight, like he was 8 years old again. Both rounds were really big so I was nervous. These events are the best—the best horses and riders in the world.”
The tough first round saw ranking challengers Michael Whitaker and Denis Lynch clock up faults that kept them out of the second round. There was also drama when Danish rider Andreas Schou completed a clear round on Uno’s Safier despite his bridle breaking. Swiss flags were waved around the arena when Olympic individual gold medalist and home rider Steve Guerdat came into the compact sand arena. Although Guerdat didn’t jump clear, his status as local hero was not in doubt.
The packed grandstands cheered on the 18 riders who were really put to the test over another challenging course in Round 2. Leading German rider Marco Kutscher had a dramatic fall when his horse Cornet Obolensky lost balance over a wide oxer. There were impressive clear rounds from Kraut, Edwina Tops-Alexander, Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, Skelton, Luciana Diniz on Lennox and Dutch rider Marc Houtzager, who all went through to the jump-off.
Swedish’s Bengtsson cranked up the pressure in the six-horse jump-off dramatically by jumping clear in 45.37 seconds on his champion horse Casall La Silla. Tops-Alexander of Australia, the current GCT series leader, came into the ring on Cevo Itot du Château but notched 4 faults. Kraut had the luxury of going last, but Bengtsson’s time was tough to beat. She set off at a dazzling pace on Cedric, putting in a brilliant turn to the double and chasing down Bengtsson’s time to finish in 42.53 seconds. “I was feeling good tonight, and my horse is fast. I took a shot and got lucky,” Kraut said.
“I was not fast enough tonight. Laura was quicker, and that’s life,” said Bengtsson.
The GCT now moves to Vienna for its debut event in Austria next week and then to the final in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in November. The Lausanne grand prix result shifted the overall GCT rankings significantly. Tops-Alexander remains the leader on 196 points with Bengtsson in second place on 191.
“[The GCT series championship] is really close,” Tops-Alexander said. “I knew tonight I had to have a very good performance. There is still a long way to go with two more competitions left. The season is more exciting than last year, and I’m really happy I’ve been in the lead since the beginning. My horse is in great shape. Laura rode an amazing round.”
The Lausanne results moved Kraut up to 19th in the GCT series ranking, but U.S. rider Richard Spooner is the highest-placed American at the moment, lying in eighth with 137 points.