Laura Chapot dominated the open jumper 1.45m division at the Devon Fall Classic, Sept. 14-17 in Devon Pa., winning both the $25,000 Grand Prix and the Speed Stake and placing second in the Welcome Stake.
She not only won the Grand Prix, she placed first and second, and she won the Speed Stake on yet a third horse, showing once again her ability to train and ride many different horses to become winners.
To make her victory even sweeter, Chapot won the class that was dedicated to her father, Frank D. Chapot, whose long and outstanding career included both many national and international wins as a rider and later as chef d'equipe of the U.S. show jumping team.
Eight riders were clean in the first round before a packed and enthusiastic crowd to come back in the jump-off.
Chapot on Thornhill Kate was first to go in the jump-off, and she laid down a second clean round in the speedy time of 35.402.
She returned three horses later on Calafornia to post another clean trip in 36.447,and was followed in the ring by Tracy Magness on Intenz Van HD, who was clean but in 37.809 to take third, but a full two seconds slower than the winner.
"Calafornia is a new horse for me that I just got this winter," said Chapot. "Thornhill Kate is my more experienced mount. She's very quick, not as big strided, but always game and tries her heart out every time."
"Calafornia, this is his first time here at Devon, so I am excited that he was so good under the lights and very comfortable in the ring," said Chapot. "He has a mammoth stride, and he left out a few strides here and there. I was just very pleased with his performance. He was very smooth and super tonight."
"This class was dedicated to my dad last year, so it's really pleasing to have won it after trying for awhile," said Chapot. "I've won it before, but the first time since it was dedicated to my dad, so that means a lot to me. I feel like he's probably looking down and smiling."
"For sure, the atmosphere adds to the pressure, but it's super exciting," said Chapot. "I think I was more nervous tonight for this class than I was for jumping the HITS Million. The crowd is so enthusiastic. They get behind you and you really want to please them and do well. It really helps the horses and pumps you up and makes you want to focus and make sure you do a good job."
ON FRIDAY evening, Chapot rode Out of Ireland to win the $5,000 Speed Stake with a clean trip in 60.446 to beat Pablo Mejia on RL Queen Mary, clean in 60.913, and Ibrahim Barazi on Omnia Incipit, clean in 64.183.
In an effort to place both first and second, Chapot, riding Zealous as one of the last to go, actually laid down the fastest trip, 59.971, but in one tight turn, Chapot clipped the standard to pull down the rails for four faults, dropping Zealous to ninth.
"I have had Out Of Ireland for three years now," said Chapot. "She is an Irish-bred horse, and she came from Cian O'Connor. She has moved up through the ranks, and she is going to do the grand prix this year, which I think is the first time she will be doing it. She has done some smaller ones. She is unphased by the lights and the crowd, so hopefully she will be good. Tonight was a good prep for her."
"She has a big stride, which helps her on a course like this," said Chapot. "She really covers the ground. She is handy and has a big stride and she can do it without running, so it can stay really smooth, and she doesn't get rattled at all through the course. That's really the key to her. She has that natural speed, and I think that sometimes people get trying really hard to catch her, and that's when they make mistakes."
"Unfortunately I had to go very, very early in the order, and at the time it seemed a little bit risky to do the inside turn, especially going so early," said Chapot. "You landed a little bit past where you had to turn so I felt like, with her speed, it would be just as quick to just go right around, and in the end it was."
"Out Of Ireland is a naturally fast horse ,so I wanted to trust her and allow her to have a nice smooth round without pushing her too hard because she is very deceptively fast.," said Chapot. "Even without going fast she is often the winner of the class."
"It's always exciting to show at Devon," said Chapot. "You always get a great crowd here, and the crowd is very into the competition. I think that makes the horses jump a little better. It makes it so much more exciting when you have a crowd that is cheering for you and makes you want to win the class for them. You know the footing is great no matter what happens, and the facility has just been revamped, and it is getting better and better all the time."
"One of the great things about being in a riding family is that it's a real family project, so to speak," said Chapot. "We all come together ,and we all help each other, and it just makes it all that much better when you have success."
ADRIENNE MARCIANO of Collegeville, Pa., rode her Laspari to win the $7,500 High Junior.Amateur-Owner Jumpers with the only clear round in the class and that, plus her third place in the $1,000 High Junior/Amateur-Owner class Friday evening gave her the Championship.
Lucy Matz was second on Bailey VI with four faults in 31.726, and Jesse Smith on Charles Pinkney Windsor Z was third with four faults in 31.905.
"Laspari is a 12-year-old German Warmblood," said Marciano. "He was found by Seth Vallhonrat, and he is my horse of a lifetime. I absolutely adore him. We were champion at Devon in 2014, and were champion this year at Devon. He was champion last year at the Devon Fall Classic and then this year. He's just always stepping up to the plate for me. I love him. I can't say enough good things about him. His heart is in it. He knows what he has to do and he always rises to the occasion. And he's sweet!"
Marcianno trains with Kevin Babington at Kevin Babington LLC.
"They have been wonderful to me," said Marciano. "They let me go and ride horses there. I am very good friends with Kevin's wife Diana, and Kevin has really stepped up to the plate to help me and Oliver McCarthy as well. I can't say enough good things about them. We were calling it the "grey team" tonight, and there were about seven people at the fence helping me. I couldn't be more excited about my future for riding and with the horse and with the great team behind me."
"Devon is basically my hometown, so my friends and family are usually here," said Marciano. "It's so great because there are regular people here that know nothing about horses, and they are so excited to see the competition. The atmosphere is amazing. I just love showing under the lights, and it's a beautiful venue. I try to attend every show they have during the year because it's so much fun and amazing. I've won Devon, I've won this - it doesn't matter, the atmosphere is the same every single time."
LUCY MATZ of Cochranville, Pa., won the $1,000 High Junior/Amateur-Owner class Friday evening, one of only two to go clean in that class, and Matz' win Friday evening plus her second Saturday evening gave her the Reserve Championship.
Smith was second to Matz with the only other clean round, and she finished lmost a second behind in 64.518.
"The last time I showed her at Devon under the lights [Bailey VI] was nervous and kind of sticky, so I really just wanted to get her in the ring and have a smooth round, and she went around very nicely," said Matz.
"I have had her for two years, and she is 11 years old now," said Matz. "I bought her from Sloane Coles in The Plains, Va. She is really spunky, so you have to let her go with the flow."
"Devon is great," said Matz. "I love how the community comes together, and you get this really wonderful atmosphere to support the riders. It's also always an honor to ride in the Dixon Oval. I am from Kennett Square, so it's nice to show locally."
"It is great to be able to work with my dad on my riding," said Matz, referring to ne father Michael, who was a member of the silver medal eam in Atlanta in 1996 andwon countless grand prix classes before turning to training rrace horses. "I learn so much from him just by watching him. He is also really helpful by keeping my horses fit and schooled while I am away in college. As I am in college right now, that takes up most of my time. I train with my parents and Mario Deslauriers."
SEVEN Zone 2 Horse of the Year Jumper Championships were awarded on Sunday, with Susan Decone on DeLucia winning the class with the highest fences of the day, the High Adult Amateur Jumper.
"I purchased her when she was turning 6 years old and she is 12 [years old] now and we have done almost everything together during that time.," said Decone. "As a typical mare you can't tell her anything, but she gets out there and really does try hard for me. I love that she has her own engine."
Julianna Empie on Baroness De La Luze won the $3,000 High Children's Jumper championship.
"I feel awesome! [Baroness De La Luze] was amazing, and she helped me out so much on course," said Empie. "I am really happy with how she went today."
Virginia Doebler rode En-Esben to win the $1,500 Low Adult Amateur Jumper championship.
"Ben is 8 years old, and I just got him in March of 2017, and he is my horse of a lifetime," said Doebler. "My trainers, Rick and Cindy McGrath, found him through a friend. I had really bad fall, and I was out for three weeks. I wasn't looking for a horse when Ben came in, seemingly from heaven. He does everything I ask him and more and we are a really good team."
Skylar McKenna rode Dorothy (D.D.) Matz' Venturesome to win the $1,500 Low Children's Jumper championship.
"I feel pretty good," said McKenna, who has had a very successful career riding in pony and junior races. "I feel grateful to have won. This is my first jumper show, and also my first show on this horse. The jumpers are fun. I was given a really good opportunity to ride him, and I just took up on it."
"The horse needed to get out because he is going to be sold, so I got the ride on him," said McKenna. "He's so fun and gives you a really good feeling around the course."
Robert Matz rode Quinta to post the only clean round in the $5,000 Low Junior Jumpers to give the Matz family a hugely successful show, with Lucy taking a reserve championship and mothr D.D. owning the Low Children's champion.
Erika Christie rode herown Fantastique to wwin the $5,000 Low amateur-Owner Jumper, and Alice Nolen-Walston riding her Wishlea Star to win the $1,500 Pony Jumpers.
Along with the exciting jumper competitons in the Dixon Oval, spectators enjoyed live music evenings, boutique shopping, the midway and fabulous Devon food.