WELLINGTON, Fla.- Both Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, N.J., and Scott Stewart of Flemington, N.J., repeated as the Winter Equestrian Festival’s circuit champion Leading Riders, and both have won those titles many, many times.
They’ve won so many times, in fact, that neither one can remember how many times.
Laura Chapot was Open Jumper Leading Rider and Leading Lady Rider from the WEF Thursday grand prix classes and the Saturday night or Sunday afternoon grand prix classes.
Chapot was circuit champion of two divisions, riding to the top of the 1.40m division with Mary Chapot's Zealous, and also topping the 1.35m division with Mary Chapot's Umberto.
“It was great to be Leading Rider again,” said Chapot. “It was particularly nice to have Zealous be Circuit Champion in the 1.40m section because she’s a homebred.”
“It was really exciting to win the Martha Jolicoeur award for Leading lady Jumper Rider,” said Chapot. That’s just based on the grand prix class. To win that for the first time was so exciting.”
Chapot rode Dual Star and Prince Un Quointreau in the WEF series and in grand prix classes.
This was the first year that Chapot has had horses that are competitive in big grand prix classes,
In the past, Chapot has won the Circuit Leading Jumper Rider title by dominating in the slightly lower height claases.
SCOTT STEWART was the circuit's Overall Hunter Rider once again this year.
Ken Berkley, partner with Stewart in Rivers Edge, won the Overall Hunter Trainer title, and Gochman Sport Horses, one of their clients, was named Overall Hunter Owner.
Stewart rode Gochman Sport Horses' Catch Me to the circuit championship in the High Performance Working Hunter division.
Catch Me also earned the Jay Matter Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the horse with the most points in the High Performance Hunters.
Stewart rode Gochman Sport Horses' Fun to the circuit championship in the High Performance Conformation Hunter division and also led three other divisions, topping the Green Hunter 3'6" section with Dr. Betsee Parker's Luster, the Green Conformation Hunters with Parker's Private Life and the Green Hunter 3'9" with Fashion Farm's Captivate.
“I’m very fortunate in that I have a great group of horses,” said Stewart. “Catch Me was champion in his division five times and won the night class, the big class during week six (the hunter weekend). Private Life was second in the night class that weekend. That’s the first time I’ve been first and second in that class.”
Equestrian Sport Productions is producer of the Winter Equestrian Festival.
The 2017 circuit featured 12 weeks of world-class competition from Jan. 11 through April 2 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington.
The circuit awarded more than $9 million in prize money along with many other special awards.