Portugal moves up to fifth on leaderboard: Exceptional performances from rising stars

Laura Kraut clinched victory for Team USA at the fifth leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Europe Division 2 series in Sopot, Poland today. But the 51-year-old double-Olympian had to ride for her life in the edge-of-the-seat third-round jump-off to beat Dutch teenager Sanne Thijssen (18) whose breathtaking performances with Con Quidam RB had the spectators riveted to their seats.

 This was vintage Nations Cup competition, Olaf Petersen Jr’s testing track producing plenty of surprises including an unexpected early exit for experienced sides from Great Britain, Ireland, Norway and Russia along with the Polish hosts at the end of the first round. The Americans were well out in front with just a single time fault at the halfway stage, but the Dutch fought back from fifth place to chase them right down to the wire. 

Kraut knew what she had to do when following Thijssen against the clock.

“Sanne is a great rider, always very fast. Robert Ridland (USA Chef d’Equipe) told me you’ve got a fence to work with, so just try to out-race her so that you will beat her even if you have a fence down!” Laura Kraut USA 

Just two faults separated Hungary, Portugal, Czech Republic, Netherlands and Belgium as round two began, and the addition of just two more to their 11-fault total would leave the Dutch on level pegging with the Americans in the closing stages when Aniek Poels (Athene) and Doron Kuipers (Charley) collected single time faults and Thijssen’s spring-heeled stallion jumped spectacularly clear.

Team USA added 12 second time out, Lauren Hough (40) and Waterford fell victim to the penultimate triple combination and Paris Sellon (25) also faulted there and at the water with Cassandra. But 20-year-old Chloe Reid’s rounds with her sensational 10-year-old stallion Codarco were another highlight of a day when young riders simply sparkled, and when this pair followed their first-round clear with just a single mistake then Kraut’s second clear halted the American decline and confirmed a showdown with the Dutch.

Thijssen’s little wonder-horse posted the jump-off target at four faults in 38.03 seconds - “he’s special, there are not many horses like him, he’s so careful he wants to jump the course himself and forgets that I’m sitting on him!”, she said. But Kraut cranked up the speed after hitting the second fence to post the winning time of 36.29.  


1. USA - 13 faults and 4 faults/36.29 secs in jump-off

2. Netherlands - 13 faults 4 faults/38.03 secs in jump-off

3. Portugal - 18 faults

4. Czech Republic - 19 faults

5. Hungary - 21 faults

6. Belgium - 24 faults

7. Austria - 27 faults

8. Sweden - 31 faults

Facts and Figures:

13 nations competed in this leg of the Europe Division 2 League at Sopot and 9 of them - Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Portugal, and Russia - were chasing points towards the FEI Nations Cup™ 2017 Final in Barcelona (ESP) in September. 

Only 1 horse-and-rider partnership jumped double-clear in the first two rounds - USA’s Laura Kraut and Deauville S. This 11-year-old gelding is only back in action after a 14-month lay-off due to injury. 

 4 clears in round 1, 6 clears in round 2. The time-allowed of 75 seconds proved very influential.

The Netherlands’ Sanne Thijssen won team silver at the FEI European Young Rider Championships at Millstreet (IRL) last summer. In May 2016, aged just 17, she became the youngest-ever winner of the prestigious Eindhoven Derby riding the 15-year-old Ulena. Her father, Leon Thijssen, has been a regular competitor on the Dutch team. 

 The next leg of the Europe Division 2 series will take place in Roeser (LUX) on Friday 30 June. The next leg of FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2017 Europe Division 1 will take place in Rotterdam (NED) on Friday 23 June.

Standings in FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Europe Division 2 after round 5 at Sopot (POL):

 1. Belgium - 350

2. Great Britain - 255

3. Norway - 160

4. Denmark - 155

5. Portugal - 145

6. Czech Republic - 140

7. Hungary - 120

8. Austria - 100


Laura Kraut USA, talking about Olaf Petersen Jr’s course: He did an unbelievable job, the time-allowed was very tight but doable and the fences fell everywhere. It was big enough and technical enough but you couldn’t ask for a better competition."

Sanne Thijssen NED, talking about her stallion Con Quidam RB: “I have him since he was six so we know each other very well. My father (Leon Thijssen) rode him first and then I did 1.20m and 1.30m competition with him and the plan was that when he was eight years old or so he would go back to my father. But we did some 2-Star Grand Prixs - I was too young for 3-Stars - and then my father said I could do a few more shows before I would give him back - but I never did! So we know each other. 

Laura Kraut USA, talking about her team-mates: “Chloe Reid is a student of Markus Beerbaum and Paris (Sellon) used to be my student but trains with Lauren now. It’s a great atmosphere here with us all at Sopot, Reed Kessler is here too and Lillie Keenan.”

Sanne Thijssen NED: “In the jump-off my plan was to do an easy clear, not to go at full speed, and then I had a fence down. So Laura knew what she had to do, she also had one down

press release by L.Parkes

image: Laura Kraut and Deauville S produced the only double-clear round of the competition and the quickest time in the jump-off to clinch victory for Team USA at the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping 2017 Europe Division 2 leg in Sopot, Poland. (FEI/M. Chrzan)