January 4, 2015--The third time was the charm today for Laura Kraut and Cedric, owned by Cherry Knoll Farm. Kraut has competed in the prestigious $125,000 Trump Invitational since it began three years ago, but she kicked off 2015 with an outstanding win at Mar-a-Lago, fighting to the finish with a nail-biting jump-off. For Kraut, a ticket to the jump-off was all she was hoping for, having missed her chance for victory during the first two years by going too slow in the first round an incurring time faults, but this year she would not take no for an answer.
"Each year I've brought what I consider to be one of my best horses to try to win this class," Kraut smiled. "The first two years I kept having a time fault, so this year I was determined not to have a time fault. That was my priority."
She and 12 other riders managed a first round clear to advance to what turned out to be a thrilling jump-off in a fight to the finish. Kraut and the 17-year-old dynamo Cedric outgunned Darragh Kenny and Brianne Goutal for today's victory.
"I couldn't be more pleased with him," Kraut explained. "As everyone keeps saying, he's 17 years old, but he feels better than ever. He won his last outing a month ago out in Wellington, and he has hardly jumped a fence until today. I thought this would be a good event for him. I targeted him for this, and he came through. He's an amazing horse. We have such a relationship now. I feel like I can call on him, and he's there."
Cedric and Kraut, with the advantage of going last in the dash for cash, raced home with a clean round in 39.96 seconds to edge out Kenny who piloted Fantasy to a time of 40.12 seconds, just 1/10th of a second off of Kraut's winning pace, while Goutal finished third.
Kraut guided Cedric to an amazing jump off, slicing their approach to the fences in order to shave the seconds, while still adding a stride down the only line of the shortened track. Kraut made the decision to stay inside after landing from fence 16, avoiding a slip that cost two other riders the time and accuracy they desired as they approached the end of the course.
"He was super today. I was a little worried because I knew I had to add a stride in the line, the only line on the course. I had to do six, and everyone else did five. I thought I could just make up for it by continuing running everywhere," Kraut described. "He was jumping so high, I didn't think I'd have a fence down. I was fortunate that I watched Kent go right before me, and Beezie Madden had also volunteered that she went around and that she slipped around the Rolex clock. So when I was in the air over that, I thought if I just turn really short and bring him almost to a stop and turn it's probably better than just running right around. When you run that fast you're going to probably slip. He stood right up, turned and went. I think that's probably what did it."
Owner Margaret Duprey of Cherry Knoll Farm was onsite at Mar-a-Lago to watch the exciting class unfold, and event creators Mark Bellissimo of Equestrian Sport Productions and President of the Trump Organization Donald Trump presented Duprey with the trophy for Kraut and Cedric's outstanding performance. The dynamic duo of Cedric and Kraut will take a rest for the start of the winter circuit, not planning to show again until the fourth or fifth week of the Winter Equestrian Festival.
"I'm probably going to play it [showing] by ear and see how he feels. I've applied to jump the Nations Cup with him. I'll just to see how he feels. I'd love nothing more than to aim him for the biggest events, but I have to let him sort of tell me how he wants to do it. I'd like him to last another two or three years, so I'm going to go easy with him and let him tell me," Kraut concluded.