After finishing close to the top of the leaderboard on multiple occasions thus far this season at the 2018 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), 20-year-old Kelli Cruciotti of the United States finally came away with a win on Sunday in the $50,000 Flintfields Farm Grand Prix CSI2* aboard her own Hadja Van Orshof.
Cruciotti, who hails from Elizabeth, Colorado, has been partnered with Hadja Van Orshof since 2016 and has slowly been developing the mare into a top grand prix mount. In their competition debut at GLEF during Week II, the pair finished second in the $50,000 Meijer Grand Prix of Michigan. They kicked off international competition during Week IV with another second place in the $35,000 Devoucoux Welcome Stake CSI2* on Friday.
“Our partnership began a little bit slow,” Cruciotti commented on Hadja Van Orshof. “We took our time with her because she was a little bit young and green at this level. We’ve really built her up over the last three years and now I feel like this summer it’s really clicked. She really loves her job and I can trust and believe in her. She really rises to the occasion.”
With Week IV being the young professional athlete’s final week at GLEF, Sunday’s victory capped off a fantastic three weeks of competition for Cruciotti.
Thirty-nine international show jumping athletes came forward to challenge the first round course, designed by Germany’s Olaf Petersen, Jr., but only nine jumped fault-free to advance to the jump-off.
Sloane Coles (USA) was the early clear pathfinder in the jump-off as second to go aboard Chippendale’s Boy DZ, owned by The Springledge Group, finishing in 42.39 seconds.
Scott Lenkart (USA) followed and produced another double-clear effort with Ziezo, owned by Fleur De Lis Farms. They crossed the finish line in 43.23 seconds, which would be good enough for fourth place in the end.
Second to last in the jump-off and third to jump double-clear was Luis Pedro Biraben of Argentina riding Miguel Madero and his own Caillou. They stopped the timers in 42.85 seconds, still keeping Coles in the lead.
The final entry of the afternoon was Cruciotti and the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood. Determined to claim a win before leaving Michigan, the pair galloped around the short course and over the final vertical, clocking in at 41.76 seconds to surpass Coles and secure their first international grand prix title.
“I thought she was amazing to jump one,” reflected Cruciotti. “The turn to jump two, she was very good. After the double, I took a real shot to the vertical and she handled it unbelievably well. I don’t know how she did it. Probably to the last I took a shot. The nine was forward but I trusted her and it worked out. You had to go for it. It looked long but she’s such a quality mare. She did it easy.”
1. Hadja Van Orshof / Kelli Cruciotti / USA / Kelli Cruciotti / 0 / 0 / 41.76
2. Chippendale’s Boy DZ / Sloane Coles / USA / The Springledge Group / 0 / 0 / 42.39
3. Caillou / Luis Pedro Biraben / ARG / Miguel Madero/Luis Biraben / 0 / 0 / 42.85
4. Ziezo / Scott Lenkart / USA / Fleur De Lis Farms / 0 / 0 / 43.23
5. Sovereign / Lisa Goldman / USA / Barbara Disko / 0 / 4 / 42.86
6. Canamera 2 / Peter Wylde / USA / Kathleen Kamine / 0 / 4 / 43.20
7. Copa Cabana / Stefano Baruzzo / ARG / Stransky Mission Farm Inc. / 0 / 8 / 55.35
8. Vasco / Adam Prudent / USA / Plain Bay Sales / 0 / Elim
9. Terceira / Maria Costa / USA / Ravello Farms LLC / 0 / Ret
10. Eisemeis / Paige Johnson / USA / Salamander Farm / 1 / 82.47
11. Valkyrie De Talma / Rachel Cornacchia / CAN / Rachel Cornacchia / 1 / 83.78
12. MTF Saint Simeon / Sloane Coles / USA / Morningside Training Farm / 4 / 76.69