Monday, Apr. 15, 2024

Hough And Casadora Heat Things Up On The Road To The Olympics

With a nearly 80-horse field, the jumping continued well into the unseasonably frigid Florida night at the Feb. 28 $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round VI and USEF Olympic Selection Trial No. 1, but in the end it was Lauren Hough and Casadora who emerged the victors.

14 horses qualified for the jump-off in Wellington, Fla., but only 9 returned, several having received permission to skip the final round. Hough, however, was ultimately pleased with her decision to stay in contention with Laura Mateo’s 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare.
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With a nearly 80-horse field, the jumping continued well into the unseasonably frigid Florida night at the Feb. 28 $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round VI and USEF Olympic Selection Trial No. 1, but in the end it was Lauren Hough and Casadora who emerged the victors.

14 horses qualified for the jump-off in Wellington, Fla., but only 9 returned, several having received permission to skip the final round. Hough, however, was ultimately pleased with her decision to stay in contention with Laura Mateo’s 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare.

“I was debating on whether or not to jump-off,” Hough said. “But I wanted to get the chance to jump for next week at the CSIO [held in Wellington, March 4-9], and only 18 Americans are invited.”

Hough said Casadora, whose performance quality has varied over the past few months, benefited from having last week off. The mare set the standard for the class, logging the first double-clear in Round 1 and setting a time of 46.57 in the jump-off which no pair was able to best.

Although not every horse and rider combination in the Challenge Cup took part in the Olympic Selection Trials, second-placed rider Laura Kraut has thrown her hat in the ring for a bid to Hong Kong. Kraut, who rode three horses this evening, finished in the runner-up spot with Happy Hill Farm’s young talent, Cedric. The gray German gelding is of relatively unknown breeding.

“Cedric is 10, going on 6,” Kraut joked after their clear jump-off round in 48.82 seconds. “I expect myself to ride Anthem [who qualified for the jump-off but was excused] well because I know him so well, and he was fantastic. But I just wanted to give Cedric a forward, confident ride. I wasn’t pushing him. I would have been pleased with third!”

In the Grand Prix, Todd Minikus and Pavarotti finished third with one rail down, followed by Irish rider Edward Doyle aboard Sequoyah Farm’s Utopia, who also had 4 penalties.

While a handful of partnerships made the large course look easy, many pairs had difficulty in the first round.

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“I didn’t think it was overly-technical,” Hough remarked of Christa Heibach’s course. “They were bigger fences than we’ve seen, but it was clear from the beginning that this was one of our trials. They can’t build down for us.”

Kraut echoed that sentiment, but said she also hoped the four remaining trials didn’t increase unnecessarily in difficulty, as there are several older, talented horses in their prime this year.

“They should get more technical, but hopefully not much bigger,” she said. “We don’t want to take it out of the horses who are meant to go.”

The next USEF Olympic Selection Trial will be held Sunday, March 2 in Wellington in conjunction with the $100,000 Zada Enterprises LLC Grand Prix.

The following Selection Trial horse and rider combinations qualified for the jump-off:

1. Casadora/Lauren Hough, 46.57/0
2. Cedric/Laura Kraut, 48.82/0
3. Judgement/Beezie Madden, 44.92/8
4T. Anthem/Laura Kraut*
4T. Thomas Edison/Charlie Jayne*
4T. Vancouver D’Auvray/Danielle Torano*
4T. Onira/Brianne Goutal*
4T. Armani/Jeffery Welles*

*=requested and were granted permission to not jump-off.

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