Laura Graves Opts Out of Central Park Horse Show, Will Stay Focused on Olympic Campaign

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Laura Graves on Verdades helping to clinch the Pan American Games gold medal for the United States. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Laura Graves on Verdades helping to clinch the Pan American Games gold medal for the United States. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Sept. 21, 2015

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Laura Graves has decided against competing her Verdades in the Central Park Horse Show this week because of difficulties in transport to New York City and opted to stay at her Florida base to focus on preparing for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Laura, the No. 2 combination in the United States, thus joins Steffen Peters the top American with Legolas in passing up performing at the second year of the event. Some other riders also opted not to participate because of heightened security restrictions around stabling during the visit by Pope Francis in the same area of Central Park at the same time as the horse show.

World No. 1 Valegro, 13 years old, was withdrawn from Central Park following the European Championships last month to insure the horse is ready for Rio where rider Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain will be seeking to repeat as Olympic gold medalist. She will give a demonstration.

“I am sad to announce that I will not be participating in the Central Park Horse Show,” Laura told dressage-news.com. “Diddy and I were both very much looking forward to our first adventure in the Big Apple. Diddy is very fit and fresh. Anyone who knows me knows that this horse’s health and happiness is my life.’

“Unfortunately, we were unable to organize the logistics of the trip north. Diddy and I wish all competitors the very best of luck at this very special event.

“Obviously Rio is our main focus. Any events on the road to get there have to be carefully planned with the horse’s welfare at the front of our minds,”

Verdades, also 13 years old, is Laura’s sole Grand Prix horse and she has gone to extensive lengths to insure the KWPN gelding that her family bought as a foal stays fit and healthy.

After a European competition swing culminating in the World Games in Normandy last summer where the pair placed fifth in the Grand Prix Freestyle she and Verdades stayed at their Orlando area training center until the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington over the winter. There, she qualified for the pair’s first World Cup Final, placing fourth in Las Vegas.

To limit travel, she was excused from a European tour ahead of the Pan American Games in Toronto in July that were critical for the United States to earn a team start in Rio. Along with Steffen and Legolas, Kimberly Herslow and Rosmarin and Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo, Laura and Verdades succeeded in winning team gold that earned the U.S. a team berth in Rio. The pair also took individual silver.