Saturday, May. 18, 2024

Kroff Cashes In At Las Vegas National

What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas, as this Arizona amateur hopes she’s one step closer to a trip to Gothenburg.

Allison Kroff is on a mission—she’d really like to qualify for and compete in the 2008 FEI World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden. So her trip to the Las Vegas National (Nev.) was especially rewarding when she earned valuable World Cup points after victory in the $50,000 Las Vegas National Grand Prix CSI-W aboard Nomograaf.
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What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas, as this Arizona amateur hopes she’s one step closer to a trip to Gothenburg.

Allison Kroff is on a mission—she’d really like to qualify for and compete in the 2008 FEI World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden. So her trip to the Las Vegas National (Nev.) was especially rewarding when she earned valuable World Cup points after victory in the $50,000 Las Vegas National Grand Prix CSI-W aboard Nomograaf.

This milestone competition was Kroff’s first blue ribbon in a World Cup qualifier.

“After the class I was shocked,” said Kroff, smiling. “People kept congratulating me, and one person said, ‘You don’t seem too excited.’ I said, ‘I can’t believe it! I’m shocked right now.’ ”

Kroff, 23, didn’t hesitate to show her emotions during the class, however. She described Anthony D’Ambrosio’s first-round course as one of the toughest, but most rewarding, she’s ever tackled.

“When I walked the course I loved it,” said Kroff. “From fences 1 to 2 there was a bending line, then right after that it became intense and technical. He gave you two fences to start off with, then it went from there and you didn’t have a breather.”

Kroff said she was especially focused on the rideability tests D’Ambrosio asked because she’s confident that her horse, Nomograaf, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood, has the scope to tackle the heights and spreads.

Nevertheless, she didn’t exactly go into the ring with the utmost confidence.

“I went 26th in the order and watched six go before me. But when three in a row fell off, I was nervous after that,” she said laughing. “I said to myself, ‘I need to watch one more go.’ So I watched Ali Nilforushan and thought, ‘OK, he didn’t fall off so the course is doable.’ ”

Stick To The Plan

Kroff returned to the barn, cleared her head and concentrated on riding her plan.

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“When I got out there I was so nervous,” she said. “Luckily, my horse walked in and was amazing. He gave 150 percent. As I was going around, he was listening so well. I got to the halfway point and thought, ‘Wow, I’m still clear.’ ”

In fact, Kroff was one of just two to successfully negotiate the course without faults. Canadian Chris Pratt and Royal Beach Farao also jumped clear and joined Kroff in the two-horse jump-off.

Two others collected just 1 time fault by exceeding the 78-second time allowed—Keri Potter aboard Rockford I placed third, and Robert Ridland was fourth with Mahon Point.

In the tie-breaker, Pratt set the standard with a clear and moderately fast time of 41.26 seconds. Then, it was up to Kroff to choose her destiny.

“He went first, and I was able to watch him in the jump-off,” she said. “I was wondering if he was going to go for the slow clear or go super fast. After he went, I was thinking, ‘I don’t need to go fast. My horse is naturally fast.’ ”

It was difficult for Kroff to take her own advice, however. She was conservative to the first two fences on the shortened course and took some extra time through the oxer-oxer double combination, and then she let Nomograaf go.

“I felt I needed to pick it up to catch Chris. But I was a little cautious to the last jump,” she said. “And, luckily, he was great and jumped it clear. I didn’t mean to go that fast. And when I came out of the ring, Chris said, ‘Why did you have to go that fast?’ ”

Family Ties

Kroff has set her sights on qualifying for the World Cup Finals, but it isn’t her only focus. “I’d love to go this year, but I’m playing it by ear. I’d be honored to get there, but if not this year, then perhaps another. I’m taking it one day at a time. I’m happy where I am right now.”

After six of the 12 competitions in the World Cup West Coast League, Kroff stands fifth with 50 points. Kroff is well in the hunt as Potter leads the way with just 10 points more.

Kroff began riding jumpers at age 9, and by 15 she’d contested her first grand prix. “When I
started taking lessons, my dad thought it was a phase—then it wasn’t,” she joked.

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Her family currently owns 20 horses, some in Arizona and others in Europe. She and her father, David Kroff, purchase 3- and 4-year-olds and leave them in Germany with trainer Otto Vake. There, Vake develops them for a few years before they’re either imported to the United States for Kroff to further develop as 5- or 6-year-olds or are resold.

“My dad is really into this; he really supports me in the sport,” said a grateful Kroff. “My family is incredibly supportive too. Everyone pitches in.”

Kroff has had Nomograaf for almost two years. She purchased him in the Netherlands through U.S. dealer Alan Waldman.

“He told us what a great horse he was, and he’s was right,” said Kroff. “We bought him intending to do the smaller grand prix classes, but he stepped right up. He’d done the German and European Young Rider classes and was often leased out to different riders. Alan said he was like a ‘crash dummy.’ ”

The pair has picked up wins throughout the west, including two consecutive victories in the $25,000 Estes Park Grand Prix (Colo.) in 2006 and 2007, and blue ribbons in the $30,000 Las Campanas Grand Prix de Santa Fe (N.M.) and the $25,000 Arizona Desert Finals Grand Prix. This year they’ve earned more than $65,000 in grand prix winnings.

Although Kroff isn’t familiar with Nomograaf’s sire, Orthos, she’s quite a fan of his dam—Molly Ashe Cawley’s international grand prix star Kroon Gravin. Prior to starting her performance career, Kroon Gravin was bred as a 3-year-old and had Nomograaf.

Kroff sees many similarities in the two horses. “They both go with their heads in the air,” she noted. “It doesn’t work to force their heads down, and that’s just how they go.”

Just for fun, Kroff and Cawley allowed Nomograaf and Kroon Gravin to reunite at last year’s Rolex FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas (Nev.) when Kroff contested the event’s grand prix and Cawley competed in the Finals.

“It was funny. Kroon Gravin was pissy and mad when Nomograaf approached her. We concluded they most likely didn’t remember each other,” she said laughing.

Tricia Booker

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