Laura Kraut (USA) and Gerko III Van de Zeilhoek stole the show during Friday’s $5,000 1.40m Open Classic, sponsored by Hemp Hydrate. The pair bested a field of twenty-one competitors and secured first place with a jump-off time of 29.885 seconds. Kyle King (USA) and Christine Maclean’s Etalon (Otangelo x Zirmatine) rode to a second place finish with a time of 31.429 seconds. Finishing off the podium was Jaclyn Duff (CAN) and Venus du Gue (Cap Kennedy x Riviere de Guise), owned by Windermere Stables Limited, with a jump-off time of 32.052 seconds.
Laura Kraut on Gerko III Van de Zeilhoek. Photo by ESI.
Kraut and the nine-year-old KWPN gelding (Arko III x B. Squalls Estate Gucci) are familiar teammates in the jumper ring. “Gerko; he is kinda part of the family. He belongs to Lindsay Maxwell now, but we bought him originally as a coming 5-year-old,” shared Kraut.
The pair were last to challenge the course, designed by Michael Roy Curtis (USA). “It’s funny because he was feeling a little fresh [today]. He bucked a bit and was kind of goofing off the first half of the course and then he settled in and rode really nicely,” Kraut noted. “I would say he hasn’t done very many jump offs where you stay in the ring because most of his career has been in Europe. He was probably wondering why he was starting again. For the jump off, I felt like he was completely paying attention and was on it.”
Desert Holiday is Kraut’s first experience at the Desert International Horse Park: “This is the first time being here ever. I have never been to the desert. It is absolutely beautiful and I am very impressed with what the owners have done here,” remarked Kraut. “The place is so clean and it is really well thought out. The footing is very good and I think their intentions to better the sport is what we need.”
Kraut will now head back to the East Coast to prepare for her 2021 show season. “We have the big, big goal next year which is Tokyo [Olympics]. I spend a large part of my year in Europe,” commented Kraut. “I will be in Wellington through February and then I have a big group of horses that does the Sunshine Tour in Spain. I will commute back and forth, do two weeks in Spain and then two weeks in Wellington. That is in a perfect world, which we don’t have at the moment. A lot of it will depend on how we move about.”
About the Desert International Horse Park
With nearly 1.3 million square feet of competition and riding space, the Desert International Horse Park is one of the largest equestrian facilities in North America. Offering multiple weeks of world-class equestrian competition from October through March, the facility is a destination location for thousands of equestrians, their horses, family and friends for several months annually. Competitors from all over the world travel to Thermal, CA to not only compete but to enjoy everything the desert has to offer.
Second photo: Laura Kraut on Gerko III Van de Zeilhoek in their presentation ceremony. Photo by ESI.