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The USA’s Laura Kraut outshone a world-class line-up to claim the Tack365.com Leading Show Jumper of the Year competition in the closing moments of the 2006 Horse of the Year Show.

The 23 highest scoring show jumpers at HOYS qualified for the competition, including three previous winners. But in the end it was Laura Kraut and Anthem who answered all the questions on course designer Bob Ellis’s demanding jump off course to take home the £7,500 Leading Show Jumper prize.

But having forgotten a jump off course earlier on in the show, Kraut’s main concern was to stay on the right track. “I went and studied the course this afternoon,” she said to Sky Sports afterwards. The formula worked and Kraut’s victory marks a perfect close to her six month European tour. “I couldn’t be happier,” said Kraut. “This was my last class after six months of being in Europe and I’ve finally won.”

Her victory was no mean feat – 13 combinations made it through to the jump off, all hungry for the Leading Show Jumper title. Ellen Whitaker, winner of the Speed Horse of the Year class earlier today, jumped an impressive 36.59 sec round with AK Locarno but the last fence fell, leaving the contest open.

European young rider champoin Gemma Paternoster proved her future potential with a stylish first round clear partnering Osiris. But sadly the first fence fell in the jump off, ruling her off the top of the leader board.

Ireland’s Billy Twomey turned up the heat when he jumped a 38.48 sec clear with Anastasia III. Twomey remained in the lead until a flawless round from Kraut and her partner of eight years Anthem, trumped him by 0.12 sec. “I took the same path as Ellen Whitaker and just got lucky,” she said afterwards.

Last to go, grand prix expert Michael Whitaker, was left with the task of claiming victory for Britain. But as the first fence fell Kraut and the trusted Anthem – who really had “turned himself inside out” – secured the 2006 Leading Show Jumper title.

Nick Skelton, who earlier today assured Sky Sports he would “try to jump a clear and see what happens” was Britain’s highest placed rider. Partnering Lisa Hales’ Russel, Skelton cleared the jump-off in 39.83 sec to take fourth position.

Laura was ecstatic to win the most prestigious show jumping class at the Show and even more delighted to be presented with the Leading Lady award. For full results see Tack365.com Leading Show Jumper of the Year

Laura Kraut was presented with the Leading Lady award while Dutchman Eric Van Der Vleuten, who put in a consistent performance during the course of the five day Show was awarded with the title of The Leading Rider. Geoff Luckett, Britain’s Leading Rider claimed the Penwood Forge Trophy.

Results

1. Laura Kraut (USA) Anthem
2. Billy Twomey (IRE) Anastasia III
3. Leaopold an Asten (NED) VDL Groep Think Twice II
4. Nick Skelton (GBR) Russel
5. Leon Thijssen (NED) Olaf