WELLINGTON, Fla.--Laura Chapot is the Winter Equestrian Festival's Open Jumper Circuit Champion yet again, but this year she won more than ever, and with now having both a winning grand prix mount and a pair of extraordinary 7 year olds, it seems she can only get even better.
While Chapot of Neshanic Station, N.J., continued her domination of the Jumper title, Scott Stewart of Flemington, N.J., who had reigned as years as king of the Hunter Rider Circuit Championship, he was unseated this year by Tori Colvin, who began her career by training under Stewart.
Chapot had some absolutely amazing statistics in the Circuit Championships.
In the 1.35m division, she finished first, second and third in a section that had 307 different horses wining money, and in the 1.40m division, she finished first, second, third AND forth in a section that had 530 different horses winning money.
In the 1.45m, she finished second on Chandon Blue, who also won numerous ribbons in grand prix classes throughout the winter.
Then, as a fore-taste of what might come in the future, with just limited shows, Chapot rode two of Gemini's get to win and place fifth in the 7-year-old section.
GEMINI is the clone of the great thoroughbred jumper Gem Twist that Chapot's father Frank engineered.
While Chapot has been Circuit Champion at WEF so many times that she can't remember how many, in past wins she did it with multiple wins in 1.30m, 1.35m and and 1.40 m classes, lacking a horse that she could be competitive with in grand prix classes, but this year, that changed with her getting Chandon Blue.
"I got Chandon Blue from Cian O'Connor at the beginning of Florida last year," said Chapot of the 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding. "He has been spectacular down here. He won give grandprix or grandprix qualifiers and was second or third in two others. He did way more than you could imagine from any horse. I'm very appreciative of having such good horses in our barn."
Umberto led in 1.35m with $7,870, Cybal II was second with $2,245 and Gideon was third with $2,065, and the 1.40m, Shooting Star led with $8,950, Out of Ireland was second with $8,5909, Zealous ess third with $8,075 and Thornhill Kate was fourth with $7,810, while Chandon Blue collected $19,730 to place second in 1.45m.
Pursuit of Happiness, a gelding by Gemini, won the 7-year-old Circuit Championship with $1,778, and Timeless was fifth with$1,008.
"The gelding has a very thoroughbred-like feel," said Chapot. "He's not fully matured yet, but he's very careful. Both 7 year olds are very green, but they learned really quickly, they're very smart horses."
"They're very different," said Chapot, who rode Gem Twist the winter that she was Rookie AGA Rider of the Year.. "He's super careful. She reminds me more of Gem Twist with the way she jumps. When she's figured something out, she's very bold. We went very slowly with Gem Twist, and we're doing the same thing with these two."
"It was an amazing circuit," said Chapot. "Every horse went great. I'm proud of them all for stepping up, they all came through for me."
Mary Chapot was Overall Jumper Owner with 1364 points, almost twice as much as the second placed Gochman Sport Horses of New York with 746 points, and she was also Overall Jumper Trainer with 2243 points.
Laura Chapot also trained two that had good results during the winter.
Barbara Rochford, with limited showing, finished fourth in Adult Amateur Jumpers, 36 and over, and Michael Rothplatz on Fiene finished ninth in Amateur Owner Jumpers, Low.
"Michael just bought Fiene a week before he went down to Florida, and he expected to spend the circuit getting used to the horse," said Chapot. "But he won ribbons, and in his last class in Florida he won the Classic in week 10."
ViICTORIA COLVIN ended week 12 of WEF with a number of hunter championships, as well as the WEF Overall Hunter Rider award and the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship.
Colvin finished the circuit with 3012 points, the only rider to surpass 3000 points in the hunter divisions, to beat Stewart, who had 2862 points..
Colvin won championships all 12 weeks of the circuit, and one of her owners, John and Stephanie Ingram were second in Overall Hunter Owners.
"It's really been an outstanding season," said Colvin. "I'm so thankful to my incredible team, owners and sponsors for giving me the opportunity to ride such amazing horses! I couldn't do it without any of them and I'm really looking forward to the future."
After being awarded the WCHR Hunter of the Year Award and the Peter Wetherill Cup at the beginning of the evening, Victoria Colvin and Brad Wolf's Private Practice had two excellent trips to win the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular for the fifth time.
Colvin had at least one championship or reserve championship in a hunter division every week of the 12-week circuit on a number of different horses winning more than 30 tricolor ribbons on nearly 20 different horses.
Then to cap off the 12-weeks of WEFl, Colvin rode Meralex Farm Inc.'s El Primero to win the $50,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, finishing with a 402 point total.
Clementina Brown of Kennett Square, Pa., while only showing every other week, less tha half the time, finished 11th in Amateur owner hunter, over 35 on Eagle and winning a championship on Monarch, a new horse that she has in her first year of showing him.
" I am just returning North from a successful WEF, particularly with Monarch and Eagle," said Brown. "Specific high lights included Monarch winning the championship in the Adult with 30 plus horses in week 4. This was the first time I ever showed him. By the end of the circuit, he was holding his own with me in the 3’3”” amateur, an extremely competitive division."
"Eagle won top ribbons in the Older Amateur 3’6” , most notably winning reserve champion during the hardest week of all- Week 6 - and missing champion by just a point," said Bown. "I got to show him in the Peter Wetherill Hunter Spectacular under the lights which was a complete thrill- like competing in the Super Bowl of Hunters."
"Otherwise, I successfully showed both Eagle and Cupido in the Hunt and Go Derby Week 5 which was fun and prepared me well for big success on Week 6," said Brown. "Now it's time to return home to the beautiful green grass of Pennsylvania."
Kelley Farmer of Keswick, Va., rode Consent to top the Overall Green Conformation Hunter over two of Stewart's mounts, Critic's Choice and Scandal, and Sandra Ferrell of Bernville, Pa., rode Moonshot to win the Overall Green Hunter, 3'9".
Stewart placed first and second in Overall Green Hunter, 3'6" with Everwonder and Bright Side, and his partner Ken Berkley was tops in Overall Hunter Trainer.