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Lauren Hough And Clasiko Win $75,000 CN Florida Open Grand Prix Presented by Estates of Wellington Green, CDI-W
WELLINGTON, FL – March 7, 2004 – Marking the second Grand Prix win of his career, Clasiko, Lauren Hough’s 2000 Olympic mount, won the $75,000 CN Florida Open Grand Prix. Presented by Estates of Wellington Green, CDI-W today at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. “They are few and far between but they’re important,” said Hough, regarding Clasiko’s short victory list. Clasiko earned a berth on the Sydney team before he’d ever won a grand prix, and notched his first victory at the National Horse Show in 2002 when it was held in the Internationale Arena of the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club, home of the WEF and today’s class. “I’m so grateful. He’s such an amazing horse. It was very, very big and very scopey and he just jumped beautifully,” said Hough. “He’s peaking at the right moment so I’m very happy.”
Hough, 26 of Wellington, is aiming Clasiko for the 2004 Athens Olympics. “For sure he’s definitely an Olympic caliber horse and I’m going to do the best I can and prepare as well as I can. Hopefully I’ll have a little luck on my side and we can go for the second time,” she said. “This is his third Grand Prix this year. He’s had four faults in both the others – a little bit rider errors, but he’s been jumping super.”
Hough and Clasiko owned by the Clasiko Group topped a field of 41 horses and were one of only two double clear performances today. Placing second was Beezie Madden, 40, of Cazenovia, New York, aboard Desilvio owned by Abigail Wexner. Chris Kappler, 37, of Pittstown, New Jersey, riding Primeur 58 for owner Kathy Kamine placed third.
Dr. Arno Gego and Christa Heibach, both of Aachen, Germany, designed the course. The 16-effort Round One featured nine single jumps, then a triple at Fence 9, one jump in between and then a final triple at Fence 12. The triples caught the majority of riders – 20 at the first one and 17 at the last. “Arno Gego did a fantastic job,” said Hough. “There was a lot of technical riding and also some very big jumps. Clasiko actually hit the first jump in the first round and when he does that, then he wakes up and the rest of the round was very easy to ride. He jumped beautifully and I was just thrilled.” Five horses went clean and qualified for the tiebreaker.
Marley Goodman riding Razia for her family’s Turtle Lane Farm led off over the eight-effort shortened course with time allowed at 54 seconds, but incurred a rail in 48.57 to finish fifth. Hough went next and set the pace with her clear in 43.07. Kappler, the 2003 American Invitational winner on his way to Tampa in three weeks to defend his title, challenged Hough but had a knockdown for a penalty of four in 43.50 for third. Eric Hasbrouck aboard Sitah for Trelawny Farm Inc. had the unfortunate last rail down in 47.22 for fourth place. Going last in the order, Madden and Desilvio went for it, and despite a misstep after the fourth fence, they went clean but in 43.61 and had to settle for the red ribbon.
“It was a jump-off suited to my horse because there was a lot of long runs and he has a very big stride and covers the ground really well,” explained Hough. “So I did one less stride in the first line from one to two and just tried to stay on a very forward rhythm the whole way through. He was very good to clear the last jump. He did a little bit of a funny jump to get over it.” Hough has been partnered with Clasiko, a 13-year-old, bay Holsteiner gelding by Colando out of Bola by Lorino since he was seven. “He’s a really easy-going horse. The bigger the jumps, the bigger they set the course, the better it is for me because it really makes him pay attention. He’s very sweet around the barn. He’s my friend. He’s been a big part of my career and gotten me to the point I’m at now so I’m very grateful to him and to the owners.”
Madden pinpointed where she lost time in the jump-off. “I don’t know if he stumbled or the footing gave way or something, but it took me a couple of strides to get up and get going again, so it cost me some time out.” There was a double and two verticals left on course, but not much opportunity to catch up. “I could have gone faster to the double oxers,” Madden noted. “We both did the same five strides to the last fence and there’s nothing you can do to make that any faster.”
Madden has been partnered with Desilvio, a nine-year-old Dutch gelding by Silvio out of Grazia, since he was five. He has had good results in his career, including in Europe where he won a six-bar class in Geneva, Switzerland, before the Florida circuit, but he has yet to notch his first Grand Prix win. Today’s class was only his second Grand Prix at the 2004 WEF. “I’m just thrilled that he was so good,” Madden said. She is aiming Desilvio for the Athens Olympic Selection Trials. “He’s big and scopey and as long as we have no set backs, he’ll be ready for the trials.”
For Hough, Clasiko’s fault-less performance was clinched in her mind from the moment she set foot on the grass. “I felt very confident today when I was walking the course that my horse was capable of jumping it clear.”
The $75,000 CN Florida Open Grand Prix Presented by Estates of Wellington Green, CDI-W was a qualifying competition for the FEI World Cup Final that will be held April 21-24, 2004, in Milan, Italy.