WELLINGTON, Fla.--Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, N.J., has a dozen horses in Wellington as she prepares to defend her title as Leading Open Jumper Rider at the Winter Equestrian Festival, which runs 12 weeks, from Jan. 10 to April 1, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Chapot, who has held that title for most of the past decade, has three new horses, Chambon Blue, Cybel 2nd and Gidion, along with her veteran jumpers, Quointreau un Prince, Dual Star, California, Out of Ireland, Zealous, SLF Peanut, Swimming, Shooting Star and Umberto.
She also has four students, Barbara Rochford, Michael Rothpletz and his son William and Layla Law-Gisiko.
The WEF will host 12 weeks of competition, which includes 11 FEI weeks and four CSI 5* competitions.
THIS YEAR'S circuit offers more than $9 million in prize money and will feature many of the world's top internationally ranked riders including reigning World #1 Kent Farrington, #2 Mclain Ward and #8 Eric Lamaze of Canada, all of whom call Wellington home during the winter months.
"We look forward to delivering another amazing season in 2018, with bigger classes, more prize money, and incredible sponsors, as we host the most talented riders in the world," said Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions and managing partner of the Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP). "We are proud to continue organizing the sport's largest equestrian competition and look forward to making this year one of the best WEF seasons yet."
The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, home of WEF, is open to the public and offers free general admission throughout the season to all events.
Competition runs from Wednesday morning through Sunday afternoon.
The highlight "Saturday Night Lights" competitions, featuring major international Grand Prix, begins at 7:00 p.m. each Saturday of the circuit.
Gates open at 6:00 p.m. for spectators and fans and there are carousel rides, face painting, family entertainment and more.
The season will feature four CSI 5* Grand Prix classes, the highest designation of international show jumping in the sport, which will be held on Feb. 10 during week 5, Feb. 24 during week 7, March 10 during week 9 and March 31 during the final week 12.
These competitions feature the top horse and rider combinations in the world and include four FEI World Ranking classes during each week.
The final CSI 5* competition of the circuit will feature the $500,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*, the most prestigious international class of the 2018 season.
WEF will again offer concurrent CSI 2* competitions running in conjunction with CSI 5* weeks in an effort to offer exhibitors additional opportunities to compete at the FEI level.
The CSI 2* division will feature a $50,000 Grand Prix on Sundays and include FEI World Ranking classes, along with two additional classes during the week.
Each week of the WEF circuit also hosts "Premier AA" hunter competition for children, juniors, amateurs, and professionals.
The Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup, Hollow Creek 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic and Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix Series all return in 2018 with the addition of several new Derby Field classes.