From tears to triumph: Confu returns from life-threatening virus to provide emotional win for Laura Kraut

  • Laura Kraut and Confu had a triumphant return from uncertainty to win the $216,000 grand prix CSI4* during the “Saturday Night Lights” at the Winter Equestrian Festival.

    “The win tonight means everything,” said Laura. “A few months ago, we were crying because we weren’t sure he was going to make it.”

    It was the first grand prix for Confu since November 2021. Laura explained that the gelding suffered from a serious virus at the end of 2021, and his future had been extremely unclear.

    Laura Kraut and Confu on their way to victory at WEF

    Laura Kraut and Confu en route to victory

    Forty-five entries from 14 nations contested Canada’s Michel Vaillancourt’s opening course. His stamina-challenging track included two double combinations, a triple combination, and a triple-bar early on at obstacle three.

    Ten contestants returned to the jump-off and the night looked to be sewn up by the Irish as Mark McAuley sat in second and Conor Swail put in a blazing round in 37.10 seconds as the second to last with Vital Chance De La Roque, to go into the lead. Laura and Confu clearly had other plans as the last to go in the jump-off.

    Conor Swail and Vital Chance de la Roque

    Conor Swail and ‘Vinny’ catch big air in last night’s grand prix

    The duo proved they are never a pair that should be counted out. Kraut and the 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Contact Me x Cambridge 8) exploded into action, finishing with a final time of 36.44 seconds.

    “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.

    “It means the world to have him win, and to win on Horseware week [at the Winter Equestrian Festival], 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.”

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