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November 2, 2012

Ohlala Draws Oohs And Aahs In Alltech National Speed Class

Ohlala and Lauren Hough almost had wings as they blazed around to win the $50,000 Chartis Insurance Open Jumper Speed.

Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 2

It’s good to know that occasionally grand prix riders miss too!

The crowd gasped a couple of times as Lauren Hough blazed around the $50,000 Chartis International Speed class. Once when she and Ohlala left out a stride to an oxer and flew through the air effortlessly, and another time when she flat-out galloped to a vertical and missed.

“I had a really big chocolate chip there!” Hough said, laughing at herself. “But she was amazing and cleared it; I don’t know how she did it. It wasn’t one of my smoothest rounds, but it all worked out.”

It worked out indeed, as Hough and Ohlala nipped across the finish line just fractions of a second faster than time Shane Sweetnam had set on Cyklon 1083 to win her second class in a row at the Alltech National Horse Show. The night before, she’d ridden Quick Study to the top of the $75,000 Double H Farm Open Jumper class.

Watch Hough and Ohlala's incredible round....

Earlier in the class, Beezie Madden had thrown the gauntlet down as third to go, riding Amadora to an incredibly quick round. But then Sweetnam kicked things up a notch. He rode the athletic Cyklon 1083 around a seemingly impossibly tight inside turn, ducking inside another fence to get from fence 2 to the double of verticals at 3. The turn required him to almost stop cold and spin, but the distance saved made up for the loss of momentum. The turn helped him best Madden by half a second.

No one else attempted that inside turn except Hough, and she proved it was the key to victory. “I had looked at that turn when I walked the course, but after I watched five go, I thought it wasn’t possible,” she said. “Then Chris McCrea told me that Shane had done it. My distance to fence 2 set me up for it, and the flowers helped—you could kind of bounce off of them. It wasn’t the smoothest, but it was definitely quicker.” After that turn, Hough never let off the gas pedal, and Ohlala, nimble as a cat, turned and burned to the lead.

After the class, Ohlala walked by us in the barn aisle and looked pretty much like a very racy pony. Lauren Hough hasn’t actually put a stick to her but says she thinks she might be 15.2 hands. Despite her diminutive stature, the 8-year-old mare has quite a few impressive wins on her résumé already.

Hough found Ohlala, a Swedish Warmblood (Orlando—Carrera, Cardento) at the end of last year. “She did up to the 1.45-meter classes in Florida, and then this summer in Europe she won the Young Horse Final at Aachen and Hamburg [Germany],” Hough said. “She won a big speed class at [the Washington International (D.C.)]. She’s sort of on the brink of stepping up to the bigger classes but is very competitive at this right now.”

Ohlala competed in the $100,000 President’s Cup CSI-W at Washington but had a few rails in the first round. “I pushed the envelope a little bit at Washington, and now she’ll step back down and do a bit smaller classes. She’ll move back up to 1.60-meter stuff in Florida,” Hough said.

“I have very high hopes for her. I was able to put a syndicate together and keep her at least for the near future. She’s the next one coming along for me,” she continued. “She’s amazing. To win as much as she has at 8 years old, you don’t see that happen too often. And she can go as fast as she did today and jump a big, careful class tomorrow and not be fazed by it. It makes my job easy.”

Hough’s win on her veteran Quick Study in the $75,000 Double H Farm class also came as a result of stepping on the gas. Irish rider Richie Moloney had turned in a seemingly unbeatable go on Slieveanorra, but then Hough shaved off 1/10 of a second from his time.

Belgian rider Nicola Philippaerts claimed victory in the first open speed class of the show, winning the $50,000 Welcome Speed.

See all of the Chronicle’s coverage of the Alltech National Horse Show.

Check out full results of the Alltech National Horse Show.

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