Laura Chapot just extended her impressive mid-summer winning streak with another victory in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS-on-the-Hudson. Friday’s triumph marked the fourth consecutive win for Chapot in the last two weeks and the second victory aboard Quointreau Un Prince, an 8-year-old mount she bought three years ago from McLain Ward.
The winning streak started during the first week of the summer series on Sunday, July 24 when she piloted Quointreau Un Prince to the blue in the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. She then followed that with another stellar performance in last week’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, aboard Mary Chapot’s Umberto. Two days later, she and Umberto returned to take it all again in Sunday’s $75,000 Chartis Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.
After yesterday’s class, Chapot claimed there was no secret when asked about to her performance. “I actually have no idea how it’s been happening,” she said with a smile. “I wish I did, I could get rich selling that formula. My horse and I have meshed well right from the start. I got him when he was five, so he’s kind of grown up with my system and really knows my way. I always feel very comfortable with him.”
According to Chapot, there were a lot of difficult parts to the course set by Danny Foster of Milton, Ontario, Canada for the 38 starters. Round one featured 13 efforts with a triple combination early on in the route and a double combination at fence 10 that was immediately followed by a liverpool and two more fences that required a quick rollback before crossing the timers in the Strongid® C 2X Stadium. “The course was a little bit bigger than we usually see on Friday,” said Chapot. “There was a tricky distance into that triple combination and the triple itself caused a lot of problems. I think even in the later part of the course all the lines where a little bit tricky and really required you to have a plan.”
Callan Solem of Glenmoore, Pennsylvania was second in the order and the first to go clear aboard the Torlando Group’s VDL Torlando. Chapot of Neshanic Station, New Jersey followed two trips later with a clear ride aboard Quointreau Un Price, the first of four horses she had in the class, to ensure the crowd a jump-off. Eight riders followed and attempted to follow in her footsteps but fell short, with five horse and rider teams meeting their fate at the dreaded triple fence.
Cara Raether of North Palm Beach, Florida was the next to advance to the second round aboard Trelawny Farm, LLC’s Valdato, followed a few trips later by Christine McCrea of East Windsor, Connecticut aboard Wannick WH, owned by Candy Tribble and Windsor Show Stables. Just when it seemed like it was going to be an all-ladies jump-off, Olympian Todd Minikus added his name to the group advancing on with a clear ride aboard his own Macoemba. A couple of trips later, Jonathan McCrea, who was celebrating his 40th birthday, used his second ride of the class and a little friendly jeering from the announcer to his advantage when he went clear aboard Twisther, also owned by Candy Tribble and Windsor Show Stables, to join his wife Christine in the jump-off.
“I was looking for between six and eight to advance to the jump-off and that’s just what I got, so I was pleased,” said Foster. “There is a lot of depth, and quality horses and riders in Saugerties, which is why I love building here. There are not many places that you can see such talent and it’s a thrill to be here. My approach today was to prepare a course that would test this group appropriately and set the stage for Sunday’s $100,000 class. These riders do all the work, as the course designer I’m just here to facilitate so that the best rise to the top and that’s just what happened today.”
For the jump-off, Foster brought back five fences from the first round, including the 10AB combination and introduced three new fences with a time allowed of 58 seconds. Solem was up first and wasted little time. She and VDL Torlando, who finished sixth in last week’s SmartPak Grand Prix, left all the fences up and crossed the timers in 51.546 seconds to set the pace for the remaining five trips. Chapot and Quointreau Un Prince followed and managed to shave nearly five seconds off Solem’s time to set a new Great American Time to Beat at 46.579 seconds. Solem finished the afternoon in second place with $5,500 in prize money won.
“I had some very fast people behind me so I figured I better take a shot at it,” said Chapot. “Fortunately my horse was really good to me. I galloped all away across the ring to the in-and-out and he was very clever inside and left it up. So, I think that really saved me a lot of time.”
Raether followed with a clear round of her own and a time of 54.183 seconds to slide into third place. Christine McCrea was up next and managed edge Raether out of the number three spot with a time of 52.388 seconds aboard Wannick WH. For their rides, both Minikus and Jonathan McCrea found heartbreak at the third fence, earning four jumping faults each with times of 52.031 and 46.734 seconds, respectively. Jonathan McCrea took home the fifth-place ribbon and $1,500 in “birthday” money.
With four wins and eight top-12 finishes under her belt, Chapot, a SmartPak sponsored rider, has pocketed more than $68,500 in prize money won so far this season at HITS. She also has seven of the eight qualifying Grand Prix needed to become eligible and $38,000 in prize money won on her leading mount Umberto, which makes her formidable contender for this year’s Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix.
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