The main event of The Washington International Horse Show didn’t disappoint, with Lauren Hough and Ohlala continuing their win streak to take top honors in the $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ qualifier after a thrilling 7-horse jump-off.
The Alan Wade designed course was big and, as most courses are in the small ring, technical. Only 7 of the 28 starters would qualify for the jump-off, fences falling throughout the course. The final line, a large oxer-vertical double followed by the Washington International oxer was responsible for many 4-fault rounds.
The first to jump clear was 7th in the line-up, Catherine Tyree, with Mary Tyree’s Enjoy Louis.
Another 6 riders picked up faults before Lauren Tisbo and Entre Nous put in a beautiful clear, guaranteeing a jump-off. They came in quick succession after that, with the next two up, Aaron Vale and Laura Kraut also jumping faultlessly. Kent Farrington, Beezie Madden, and Lauren Hough would also join the crowd for a second round under the Verizon Center lights.
Tyree led the way, having 8 faults that would ultimately land her in 6th place. She was, however, awarded the leading Under 25 rider award later in the evening.
Lauren Tisbo had two stops, eliminating her from the jump-off and landing her in 7th place for the day. Aaron Vale followed Tisbo with 8 faults and a time of 37.93 seconds.
Laura Kraut and the 9-year-old Confu were the first clear in the jump-off with a quick but beatable time of 37.80. Beezie Madden followed but had a rail on the 4th fence of the jump-off.
Kent Farrington and the 9-year-old Creedance absolutely flew around the course, executing hair-raising turns that incited gasps from the crowd. Their time of 34.28 was the fastest of the rounds by more than 2 seconds, but a rail on the first element of the final line would mean a 3rd place finish for their efforts.
Farrington later said, “I knew one of the fastest indoor horses was going last so I was just trying to do what I thought would be a very competitive round and put pressure on Lauren. I think with his experience I should have slowed down before the last line. So I’m disappointed with the result but really happy with my horse.”
Lauren Hough had the advantage of being last in, but the pressure was on. “Being 2nd in this class a few times I was hungry for the win. It was a bit set up for me to lose tonight, to be honest. Going last, with her in the form she’s in, I had to stay really focused and not get ahead of myself.”
Hough and Ohlala executed their plan to perfection, the small mare handily navigating tight rollbacks to stop the clock at 36.56. Hough was clearly thrilled with the win and heaped praise on the mare.
“It was one of those weeks where everything just lined up. In the first round she touched a couple but then jumped the rest of the course very well. I was able to see Kent go who took every risk but had one down. I saw the difference in time between Kent and Laura and thought it was best to ride the round that suited her. I did one more step in the first line and also in the last line than everybody else. But she’s very quick across the ground. All the stars lined up for me this week and I’m thrilled.”
Kraut was thrilled with her second place, unsure how the relatively inexperienced Confu would handle the setting. “I wasn’t sure what to expect because I’ve never jumped him indoors. My goal tonight was to be double clear and when I saw the line-up my ultimate goal was to finish third because I knew these two (Kent and Lauren) are for sure faster than he can be. I was very lucky to be 2md. And I’m happy for Lauren and Ohlala. Hopefully the three of us will be at the World Cup Final.”
All three riders are eyeing the World Cup Final taking place March 29-April 2nd in Omaha, NE, especially Hough.
“I haven’t ridden in the World Cup Finals in some years and I think Ohlala’s really suited for the format so I’m making it a big priority to try to qualify. This is the first I’ve done and my next is in Toronto.”
Ponies, puppies, awards, and more…
Prior to the Grand Prix, there was no shortage of pomp and circumstance on hand. The Jack Russell race was as chaotic and hilarious as one would expect. The little dogs flew across the arena; a few eliminated for going around rather than over the obstacles, and one escaped the start gate and had to be wrangled.
The ever-popular Shetland Grand National was up next. Fearless kids aboard speedy ponies took two circuits around the ring, going flat out over the fences in front of a boisterous crowd.
Numerous presentations were made, including a tribute to this year’s U.S. Olympic Show Jumping team as well as tribute to the late Frank Chapot. McLain Ward was awarded the George H. Morris award, which Mr. Morris himself presented.
Former Senator John Warner of Virginia gave a short speech to the crowd. The Senator, who was also an avid horseman and had competed at the Washington International years before, spoke of his love of horses and the importance of veterans and the relationship between the two. He said, “I rode until I didn’t bounce anymore,” a sentiment most riders understand, and concluded his speech by quoting Churchill, “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”
1. Lauren Hough – Ohlala - 0/0, 36.56
2. Laura Kraut – Confu - 0/0, 37.80
3. Kent Farrington – Creedance - 0/4, 34.28
4. Beezie Madden – Quister - 0/4, 36.89
5. Aaron Vale – Finou 4 - 0/8, 37.93
6. Catherine Tyree – Enjoy Louis - 0/8, 38.97
By Ashley Fairfield- Remeza