Laura Graves Opts To Skip World Cup Final in Sweden to Focus Verdades on Olympic Games for American Team

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Laura Graves on Verdades  at the Pan American Games where the pair won team gold and individual silver medals as well as helping the U.S. win a start at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next summer. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Laura Graves on Verdades at the Pan American Games where the pair won team gold and individual silver medals and helped the U.S. win a start at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in summer. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Feb. 29, 2016

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Laura Graves has decided to skip the World Cup Final in Sweden to keep her Verdades focused on the Olympic Games for the American team.

“We knew it would be ambitious to try for both the World Cup and the Olympics in the same year, Laura told dressage-news.com Monday.

“Our number one priority is the Olympics and Team USA.”

Laura and her 14-year-old KWPN gelding on which she was the 2015 U.S. champion are ranked No. 15 in the world and at the top of the United States standings for Olympic team selection.

The 28-year-old Laura and Verdades based in the community of Plymouth on the outskirts of Orlando in central Florida were virtually certain to have received an invitation to fill one of the two starting places assigned to North America at the World Cup Final in Gothenburg, Sweden in a little over three weeks.

Steffen Peters of San Diego, California has made it known that he also will not go to Sweden although he was assured of a start on Legolas at the annual individual world championship centered on the musical Freestyle that he won in 2009 on Ravel.

Laura said she made the decision not to pursue the World Cup together with Debbie McDonald, her coach and with Brentina in 2003 the first American to become World Cup champion.

“It is our focus to continue to build confidence in Diddy and, unfortunately, the World Cup does not fit into that schedule.”

While Laura and Verdades were given a good chance of making the top three at the World Cup, the schedule would require a trans-Atlantic flight followed by a 12-hour drive to Gothenburg then the same in reverse to come home. The pair will then have to make another trans-Alantic flight as the United States team horses and riders, as with most nations, will fly out of Europe to Rio de Janeiro.

Laura and Verdades have become one of the world’s top combinations since grabbing attention of the dressage community when the pair became reserve U.S. champions in mid-2014.

They went on to the World Games in Normandy, France to place fifth individually in the championship Freestyle with a score of 82.036 per cent. Last year, the duo made their debut at a World Cup Final, in Las Vegas, and finished fourth behind Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro, Edward Gal on Glock’s Undercover and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl on Unee BB.

At the Pan American Games in July, Laura and Verdades helped the United States win team gold as well as individual silver and clinch a start in the Nations Cup at the Olympics. Claiming their first American Grand Prix title came at year’s end.

The World Cup event in Wellington, Florida this week is the last qualifier in 2015/2016 series for the Final.

With both Laura and Steffen taking themselves out of contention, the highest ranked North Americans are Günter Seidel of Cardiff, California and Canadian Belinda Trussell on Anton.