Events at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) on Saturday, March 19 culminated in the $216,000 Grand Prix CSI4* during the “Saturday Night Lights.” WEF 10. At the night’s conclusion, Olympic team gold and silver medalist and RED MILLS Rider Laura Kraut took home the top prize with her long-time partner, Confu, owned by St. Bride’s Farm.
“I knew how quick all of the riders were tonight, so when I was heading in, I thought, ‘I would be happy with fifth,’” explained Kraut. “My plan was just to go at his pace and hopefully let him be double clear. The turn to the wall and the rollback to the oxer felt incredibly fast to me. I was then lucky to get a good jump on the second to last fence, and then also lucky to keep the final fence up. He knew exactly what to do.”
Kraut admitted that if she had been told Confu would produce this victory several months ago, she may not have believed it. The event was the first grand prix for Confu since November of 2021 in Europe. She shared that the gelding suffered from a serious virus at the end of 2021, and his future had been extremely unclear.
“The win tonight means everything,” emphasized Kraut. “A few months ago, we were crying because we weren’t sure he was going to make it. It means the world to have him win, and to win on Horseware week, I don’t think we could have scripted it any better. I’m so thankful to have had their support for many years, and it feels like winning this class was meant to be.”
The luck of the Irish was clearly still strong during the penultimate day of the Horseware Ireland week as RED MILLS Rider Conor Swail joined Kraut in the lap of honor. Swail once again locked in the honors of the runner-up position, this time with his own 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding Vital Chance De La Roque after flying over the final fence in 37.10 seconds.
“I’m very pleased with how tonight went, and I think we are a great partnership,” stated Swail. “He’s quite a buzzy little chap; he is quite aggressive, but he uses it to his advantage because he is so small. He is small and mighty.”
The pair have had a successful season thus far, but Swail admitted he may left room for a quicker ride.
“I wouldn’t have minded going a little better from fence one to two,” he described. “I was a little behind in some areas, but I thought I was quite tight back to the oxer and had a good shot to the last fence. The final fence I rode forward and wide to give him a little space and the best chance to jump it well.”
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Scott Brash wins with Hello Shelby
Scott Brash took a stylish victory in the Prix GL Events 5* 1.50m on Saturday to take the lion share of the €62,000 on offer. Riding Hello Shelby he posted a foot-perfect clear in a time of 60.50 seconds to take the lead ahead of Jerome Guery (BEL) with Grupo Prom Diego who also jumped clear in 60.98 seconds.
Victory for Harry Charles and Stardust
Saturday evening saw Harry Charles follow Scott’s victory when he claimed a major win himself by taking the Prix du 24 Faubourg riding Stardust. Their clear in a time of 42.72 seconds with a maximum 65 points was enough to put them in pole position ahead of Denis Lynch (IRE) with GC Chopin’s Bushi who were more than a second slower crossing the finish line in 43.96.
Sienna and Scarlett Charles finish Second in U25 Teams Competition
Sienna Charles secured the first win for Great Britain when she claimed victory in the Le Talents Hermes Under 25 at the Grand Palais Ephemere in Paris (FRA) on Friday afternoon. Riding Ornellaia her clear in a time of 23.37 seconds was enough to see her ahead of home rider Antoine Ermann (FRA) with Azur du Vinnebus in a time of 23.88 seconds. It was Thibeau Spits (BEL) that took 3rd with Juragold Bormes in a time of 23.99.
Sienna’s sister, Scarlett Charles, finished 7th in the same class with her clear aboard Lordanos Junior in a time of 25.38 seconds. The positions were reversed on Sunday when Scarlet with Lordanos Junior took 2nd place in the Under 25 team competition just behind Thibeau Spits (BEL) with Sienna taking 8th having incurred an unlucky 4 penalties in the jump-off. Their combined result clinched them second place in the team standings, just behind the team from Belgium made up of Thibeau Spits and Gilles Thomas. The teams are made up of two riders from each invited nation whose results and second round times are combined to establish the final team classifications.
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