LEXINGTON, Ky--Laura Kraut, riding Whitney and Corfu, had one win and two seconds to take the Leading Open Jumper Rider and Leading Lady Rider titles at the National Horse Show in Lexington, Oct. 31 - Nov. 5.
But it was the Irish Olympian Denis Lynch riding RMF Echo who won the final jumping class of the show and the week's top prize, Saturday evening's $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Lexington CSI4*-W.
Nine went clean from the starting field of 40 to make the jump-off, which Lynch won in 36.16 seconds, with Lauren Tisbo of Wellington, Fla., and Coriandolo Di Ribano second in 36.52 and Switzerland's Beat Mändli on Dsarie third in 37.80 seconds.
"I went as quick as I could," said Lynch. "Echo' is a naturally very, very quick horse and he's been unlucky a few times this year where he's been beaten. There have been maybe three or four grand prix events where he's finished second."
"These guys are way more experienced than I am," said Tisbo of Lynch and Mändli. "My horse had a little time off, and we really geared him towards this show, so I'm thrilled with the result."
"Coriandolo Di Ribano goes in a racing saddle," said Tisbo. "He likes it, and he's happy with it so I'm not going to change it. I've had him for about two years in February. He'll be 11 next year. He's the best horse I have, and I really took my time and gave him more than he needed to come back, so he kind of missed a lot this year. I'm really quite pleased with how he's come off his break."
KRAUT, riding Whitney, won the first class of the show, the $35,000 Welcome Stake for the Cavcote Trophy, in which 46 competitors faced the clock in the speed class.
Kraut's time of 61.020 just edged out Devin Ryan on Cooper, who finished in 61.520.
"I brought Whitney to do this class," said Kraut. "Last week [at Washington] I had one down in every class. Devin Ryan made it difficult for me today, and I wasn't sure if I could beat him, but it all worked out."
"It feels really good (to win at the National)," said Kraut. "I love the National Horse Show, and I am really excited to be back and win the first class. Sadly, Whitney's owners are not here, but hopefully they were able to watch it on the live stream."
"She is a wonderful horse and has tons of experience," said Kraut. "She won a ton with Ramiro Quintana, who rode her before, and she knows the ropes. When she is feeling on top this is the perfect class for her because she loves being competitive."
Kraut is now the Leading lady Rider in the world.
"I am surprised to be the top female in the world, but I am very happy about that," said Kraut. "Obviously, I would prefer to be the top rider in the world, but it is good. I don't focus on ranking too much because, for me, no matter how important it is to you, it doesn't make you try more or less. You have to do what is right for your horses."
Kraut then rode Corfu to second behind a former student, England's Emily Moffitt on Hilfiger Van De Olmenhoeve, in the $130,000 time first jump-off class and Whitney to second behind Beezie Madden on HHS Hercules in the $35,000 Accumulator class.
"It happens all the time," said Kraut. "I trained Jessica Springsteen, and I sit behind her quite often as well. It's nice. It's a good feeling to see them step up and do well. That's the whole goal of why you are helping these young riders. It's very nice to see. I picked that horse out for Emily, and I would agree with her. We thought he was a lovely horse. You wouldn't have known that he was going to do what he's done for her though. He's been absolutely brilliant."
IN FACT, just earlier in the day, Springsteen won the $35,000 Palm Beach Masters Series International Open Jumpers Speed class.
"I just recently got (Volage Du Val Henry)," said Springsteen. "I was showing her a bit over the summer in Europe, and since bringing her back to the States she's just been going so well. She's only 8. This is our first indoor together, so I'm really happy with her. She's really strong minded, but she's always going to go. She loves to jump and she's so brave. It's fun to have a horse that really tries, and she really wants to do the right thing. I'm really excited about her. I think she's going to become a really competitive horse and I'm excited for the future."
"I thought I had a good chance to get a good placing," said Springsteen. "I did not think that I would end up winning, but I just tried to be smooth and do the turns without going too, too crazy. It ended up working out so I was really happy."
"I love coming here every year," she said. "It's something I always look forward to. It's nice because it's indoors but there is a lot of room to ride, and you can ride outside. It's just a really special place so it's nice to be back."
Beezie Madden was third in the $130,000 Grand Prix International on Darry Lou, a relatively new ride but one that she competed very sucessfully in Europe this summer.
"I was pretty conservative (in the Grand Prix) because I don't know the horse very well," said Madden. "It's his first indoor show. I wanted to go enough that I could get a top placing, but not have the wheels fall off the wagon."
"We got him at the end of April," said Madden. "He's gone to this level a lot faster than I thought. He came from Mexico. He was doing the 1.50m. He's just stepped right up. He started in Aachen and Europe after Spruce Meadows and did Dublin and the Spruce Meadows Masters. He's had a pretty heavy dose. This is actually his last show of the year. He's digested a lot in a year and I am really proud of how far he's gotten and how well he has done."
Madden returned the following evening with the advantage of going last to win the $35,000 Accumulator class in a time of 47.62 to edge out Kraut on Whitney, who finished in 47.81.
"Hercules came from Marion Hughes, in Ireland, and we got him in May, right before Old Salem," said Madden. "I think he is quite scopey, and I think he is going to develop into a horse to jump big courses with. He is only 8 years old and has already done well in some 1.50m classes. He jumps with ease. I am hopeful that we will be doing bigger things next year."
"I watched the first 10 or 12 go, and I didn't think that I would beat Laura ," said Madden. "I was going to go in and try, but I didn't buy him as a speed horse, I bought him to jump bigger fences. He was quite good on the turns today, and I think I caught her on the back half of the course."
SCOTT STEWART of Flemington, N.J., again dominated the hunter division just as he had in Harrisburg a few weeks before.
Stewart rode the champions in four of the five professional hunter sections and was reserve in the fifth, winning the Leading Hunter Rider title for the 11th time at the National and riding Lucador to the Grand Professional Hunter Championship.
"It's awesome," said Stewart of winning the Leading Hunter Rider Challenge Trophy for the 11th time. "It feels great, obviously. I just want to try to keep doing it. I'm lucky enough to have such nice horses and owners. We already have some more horses ready for next year."
He was champion on two of Dr. Betsee Parker's horses, Private Life in Green Conformation Hunter and Lucador in High Performance Conformation Hunter.
With Lucador winning four of the five classes in the Conformation section, he swept into the Grand Championship.
"Lucador's fresh on the first day every year here pretty much," said Stewart. "That's a little bit just his character. We call him 'Luke' in the barn."
"Private Life was champion at Devon, Capital Challenge, Harrisburg and Washington this year," said Stewart. "He's been very consistent and just great. Ken [Berkley] and I owned him and Betsee bought him after his Pre-Green year right before WEF last year. He's one of the easiest ones to ride. The others have some quirks, but he really doesn't have any quirks about him. He's very straightforward."
Stewart was also Reserve Champion in Green Hunter 3'6" on another of Parker's horses, Luster.
Stewart rode two of Gochman Sport Horse LLC's horses to wins, taking the Green Hunter 3'9" championship on William Hill and the High Performance Hunter tricolor with Catch Me.
"Catch Me was awesome," said Stewart. "I've only shown him throughout the year a little bit, mostly in Florida. He did Capital Challenge, and he was good and Becky [Gochman] was champion, but he hasn't shown since then. This is the biggest he's jumped all year. He was really great."
"I show William Hill sporadically throughout the year," said Stewart. "He mostly does the amateurs with Becky. He was champion at Capital Challenge as well. He's a very easy horse to ride."