Just five days after an exciting win in last week’s $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, Laura Chapot found herself holding another blue ribbon thanks to an impressive victory in today’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, at HITS-on-the-Hudson. Despite dark clouds overhead, the sun broke through to create a beautiful mid-summer backdrop to a stellar afternoon of show jumping in upstate New York. With crowds lining all four berms of the Strongid® C 2X Stadium, Chapot and Umberto, owned by Mary Chapot, beat out 40 other starters and the 10 teams who advanced with them to the jump-off.
International Course Designer Florencio Hernandez of Mexico City, Mexico set a test for riders and horses that called for a little bit of everything – speed, technique and alertness, thanks to a tight time of 91 seconds, which required some lean rollbacks to stay within the clock.
In the first round, it was Jeffery Welles of Brewster, New York and Noel Love Gross’ Merlin who posted the first clear ride. Two trips later, Olympian Anne Kursinski of Frenchtown, New Jersey followed with a clear round of her own aboard Karen Polle’s UDonnay Z; however, a single time fault kept them from advancing to the short course. Kursinski was one of four riders to be sidelined as a result of time faults, including 12th place finisher Michael Dorman of Wellington, Florid and his own Seventh Fee.
Five trips later, Callan Solem of Glenmoore, Pennsylvania and Torlando Group’s VDL Torlando guaranteed a jump-off when they left all the rails up to the delight of the crowd. The next big applause came when Leah DeMartini of Bronxville, New York and Elm Rock, LLC’s True Love went clear to make it three in the jump-off.
The course’s difficulties proved to be balanced as faults occurred throughout the field; however, the majority of the trouble seemed to come later in the course as 13 riders met their fate on the last half of the test. At the end of the first round, eight other horse and rider combinations joined Welles, Solem and DeMartini in the jump-off.
In the second round, Hernandez brought back the pesky 8A-B combination, as well as fences 9 and 13, and introduced five new fences. Welles and Merlin were first up and had a rail at the second-to-last fence, which earned them the seventh-place ribbon at the end of the class. Solem and VDL Torlando followed and crossed the timers in 48.361 seconds to set the Great American Time to Beat for the lead. Two trips later, they were edged out of first by Danielle Cooper of Syosset, New York aboard Fidelity Farms, Inc.’s Calantus with a time of 47.071 seconds.
The lead changed hands two more times with Ronan McGuigan of Far Hills, New Jersey riding his own Capall Zidane to a third-place finish in 44.189 seconds and Ireland’s Darragh Kerrins, now of Wellington, Florida, riding his own Hot Wheels to a second-place finish in 44.186 seconds. With three trips left and her father, mother, sister and twin nieces watching from the sidelines, Chapot and Umberto entered the ring focused and ready for the task at hand. The pair blazed through the timers in 43.512 seconds to secure the lead.
“This was a nice course for the Friday Grand Prix,” said Chapot, who is sponsored by SmartPak and was very proud of the win. “Florencio [Hernandez] had a lot of different kinds of tests with a spooky wall and a lot of tight distances. I was really pleased with the way my horse jumped; he felt really confident and sure of himself. We’ve been riding as a team for two years now. He’s starting to know my style and we really mesh well. He’s very fast and very careful, so I can always rely on him in that respect.”
Candice King of Wellington, Florida was next to go and managed a clear ride aboard Hyperion Stud, LLC’s Imothep HS in 45.884 seconds, which earned them the fourth-place ribbon. Junior rider Mattias Tromp of North Salem, New York was last to go aboard Beyaert Farm, Inc.’s Casey and hoped to take advantage of his position, but fell short when the A element of the double combination came down, giving the team four faults and the ninth-place ribbon.
For Hernandez, Chapot’s win was no surprise. “She’s a great rider and out of everyone in the class she really rode the course how I envisioned it by taking the options for the tight inside turns. I was hoping for eight clear, and a few more snuck in there, but in all I was pleased.” For Sunday’s $75,000 Chartis Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, Hernandez hopes to see five clear as the road to the Pfizer Million trucks on with just seven more qualifying classes remaining on the schedule.
Source: press release from HITS
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