WELLINGTON, Fla.—Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, N.J., stormed her was back into the Winter Equestrian Festival, winning five classes, placing second in three and taking first, third and fourth in a class of 56 entries during the first week of competition, Jan.11-15.
Then she only got better, staking her claim to win the Leading Open Jumper Rider title yet again.
Chapot has 468 points, more than double that of second place, and her Mother Mary leads in the Leading Open Jumper Trainer category.
Chapot rode ISHD Dual Star to a fourth place finish in the $130,000 Grand Prix on Jan. 28, and then she won the round four of $35,000 WEF Challenge Cup on Quointreau du Prince on Feb. 3.
Four of the 47 competitors in the WEF Challenge went clean over the Steve Stephens designed course, but Darragh Kenny on Caliber withdrew from the second round, thus finishing fourth.
Chapot and Quointreau un Prince were first to go in the tiebreaker and jumped the only double clear round in a time of 38.67 seconds to win.
Kent Farrington on Gazelle was faster, but had one rail down to place second in 38.49 seconds.
Hardin Towell on Emilie de Diamant AS also had a rail to finish third in 39.07.
"I am just thrilled with him," Chapot said of the 13-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Diamant de Semilly x Rosire) that she owns in partnership with McLain Ward. "Going first is always a little difficult, but I felt like I had a good plan with him. He just really rose to the occasion and jumped super today."
First to go in the jump-off with two very fast riders to follow, Chapot knew that she needed to set a big challenge.
She used her experience from last week's grand prix, in which she finished fourth riding ISHD Dual Star, as motivation.
"I felt like Saturday night my horse was jumping great, and maybe I just did not do the best round I could," Chapot said. "I played it a bit too safe, so today I was really ready to go in there and try to win the class. I did not want to leave the door open again."
Chapot has ridden Quointreau un Prince since the gelding was five years old.
"He has been a super horse for me his whole life," she said. "He has won a ton of grand prix. He won the first grand prix of the circuit down here last winter. He is just a horse that really enjoys his job. He is funny because he is really just a show horse. He does not care too much to go out and exercise or do flat work. He is very quiet at home, but when he enters the show ring, he is a totally different horse."
“DUAL STAR is strong,” said Chapot. She likes to go forward. She’s very brave.”
In the first four weeks of the WEF, Chapot rode six different horses to wins and won ribbons on another two.
Her winners include Zealous in a 1.40m class, Quointrean un Prince in the WEF Challenge, Shooting Star in a 1.40m class, and Dual Star in a 1.40m class.
Umberto won two classes, both 1.35m, and Bec Hugo won a 1.30m class and a 1.35m class.
In addition, Calafornia and Thornhill Kate won ribbons in 1.40m and 1.45m classes. Laura McKenna, who is trained by Chapot, rode her Otherwise Engaged to be reserve champion in Low Adult Jumpers, and Barbara Rochford, who has only showed a couple of times, was second in an Older Adult Classic on Chilli Pepper.
Kevin Babington of Gwynedd Valley, Pa., rode Super Chilled to win a 1.45m class and also placed fifth in the 1.50m Sunkist Classic and fifth in the $216,000 Grand Prix on Feb. 5. Babington also was fourth on Shorapur in a 1.40m class and fifth on Mark O in the Grand Prix on Jan. 28.
Jimmy Torano of Mohrsville, Pa., won a 1.40m class on Excellent B and was seventh on Day Dream in the Grand Prix on Jan. 28.
Sloane Coles, who is a professional trainer and rider at Mark Leone’s Ri-Arm Farm in Oakland, N.J., won a 1.40m class on Binja.
Marilyn Little of Frederick, Md., was champion week one in 6-Year-Old Jumpers, but since then suffered broken ribs when RF Demeter fell on her in the Eventing cross country, held on the Polo Field between the WEF hunter and jumper show grounds and the dressage show grounds on Feb. 4. Little was leading at the time on Scandalous but was unable to compete him after her fall so was unplaced. Lucy Matz of Coatesville, Pa., won a Medium Amateur Owner Jumper class on Barley, while her brother Robert showed in the Palm Beach Masters at the Jacobs farm on Feb. 3-5, placing second on Quinta in both the $10,000 1.15m class and the $10,000 1.25m class.
That February weekend was a busy one in south Florida, with five major events all going on at the same time, the Palm Beach Masters, the WEF, Eventing on the Polo Field, dressage and racing at Gulfstream where D.D. Matz’ homebred Tequilita won the $200,000 G2 Forward Gal Stakes.
CLEMENTINA BROWN of Kennett Square, Pa., who trains with Louise Serio, has only shown twice but has done very well with her two horses. Eagle, who has a first and two seconds, and Cupido, who has a second and a third, both in the Amateur Owner, over 35, section.
“They’re winning ribbons in tough competition, including not only the top amateur horses in the country but also the 2016 Hunter Horse of the Year,” said Brown. “Every week is like showing at Devon or indoors, and when you win a class it feels like winning the Olympics.” “I’m so happy with and proud of my two magnificent hunters,” said Brown. “And, of course, I am so grateful to Louise and the fantastic team at Derbydown for helping me to be so successful.”
Serio, also of Kennett Square, rode Kings Landing to two championships, one in Open Hunter, 3’3” and one in Performance Working Hunter, 3’3”.
Scott Stewart of Flemington, N.J., is dominating the hunter sections as he often does, winning 12 championships in the first four weeks to stand first in the circuit’s Leading Hunter Rider category and Ken Berkley, his partner in Rivers Edge Farm, stands atop the Leading Hunter Trainer standings.
Catch Me has been champion three times in High Performance Hunters, Private Life has been champion twice in Green Conformation. Playbook has been champion twice in Green Hunter, 3’ and Fun has been champion twice in High Performance Conformation Hunter. Along with those, Stewart also rode Celebration to the tri-color in Green Hunter, 3’6”, Captivate in Green Hunter, 3’9” and Luster in Green Hunter, 3’6”.
Carol Hoffman, who rides with Anne Kursinki in Frenchtown, N.J., was champion on Rio Reggae in Adult Amateur Hunter, 50 and Older.
LAURA GRAVES and Verdades, 2016 Rio Olympic Games bronze medalists, took their second victory gallop of the 2017 season in the "Friday Night Stars" FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival on Jan. 27.
"It certainly feels good to start the season on an 80 percent,” said Graves. “That's been our goal by the end of a lot of our previous seasons, so that's great. It just feels so good to be back here at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival. I've ridden in a lot of stadiums now, and there is nothing compared to this."
The second place finish of the night was awarded to Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén of Sweden and her mount Paridon Magi, a 2003 Swedish Warmblood gelding, with a 77.517 percent.