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THE HUBSIDE FALL TOUR: VICTORY FOR LAURA KRAUT IN THE CSI4* GRAND PRIX

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Challenging! This is how the course designed by Italy’s Uliano Vezzani for this Sunday’s CSI4* Grand Prix at the HUBSIDEFall Tour could be described. And rightly so, as only nine of the fifty horse and rider combinations competing in this 1m55class managed to jump clear in the first round and qualify for the jump-off. This second round, which was full of twists andturns, was won in the end by the United States’ Laura Kraut.Many riders had four faults, fourteen to be precise, among the champions taking part in the key class of the competition inGrimaud, the Hubside Grand Prix. Rails were knocked down all over the track, but in particular on the last elements of thecourse, keeping the public and the riders’ friends and families on tenterhooks until the final seconds. Neither the 2014individual and team silver medallist Patrice Delaveau, nor the team gold medallist from the Rio Olympics, Roger-Yves Bost,or the eventing World champion, Michael Jung, or the recently crowned European Champion, Martin Fuchs, managed toqualify for the jump-off. Half way through the class, only three horse and rider combinations had left the ring clear with theirticket for the jump-off, joined in the second half of the class by six combinations, who were just as promising.Although Dayro Arroyave preferred not to take part in the final part of the class, the following eight riders fought it out in thering of the Ecuries du Golfe de Saint-Tropez. First to go, the winner of Friday’s Grand Prix qualifier, Mathieu Billot, had onedown on the Mercedes vertical this time. Sweden’s Frederik Jonsson and his bay Cold Play, were first to jump double clear,finishing their round in 40.44 seconds. The young Richard Howley (IRL), first to finish his round in less than 40 seconds, sawhis dreams of a victory disappear on the second fence of the jump-off. The current World team champion, who was visiblynot worried by her many male competitors, gave a stunning performance. Laura Kraut and Fleurette finished their jump-offwith great ease, in 37.81 seconds. The last four competitors, who set off in hot pursuit, didn’t manage to dethrone theAmerican. While Kevin Staut and Viking d’La Rousserie had a misunderstanding on the first fence of the jump-off, RobertWhitaker had one down on the last element. Nicolas Delmotte and Urvoso du Roch, who were in fine form this weekend,jumped clear but were twenty-two hundredths of a second slower than the lady champion. Last to go in the jump-off, Italy’sPaolo Paini, took his time and finished in 43.76 seconds and went into fourth place in the final line-up. A few seconds beforethe prize giving ceremony, the champion was obviously delighted by her performance: “I’m thrilled by this win! Fleurettewas absolutely perfect. It’s only our third jump-off together but she’s amazing. I don’t know where I managed to save time!Fleurette is naturally fast and she turned really well and then she came up with the goods in the last long gallop. To be honest,I didn’t even watch the other jump-off riders! I just closed my eyes and hoped!”  

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