Laura Chapot Drives Church Road to Speedy Wellington Victory
WELLINGTON, FL, March 14 -
Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, NJ, sped to victory in the $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge held Friday, March 14, during week nine, the CSI4*-W CN WorldWide, of the CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
With a well-earned reputation for jumping at death-defying speed, Chapot was by far the fastest competitor to complete the track set by course designer Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela. A total of 51 entries attempted the course with 11 seeing their hopes end in elimination. Palacios opted to use the natural obstacles, including a bank, which had been installed when the International Arena underwent a facelift before the opening of the 2008 CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising.
“In this venue, they built the obstacles and if there are natural obstacles, I believe I should use them,” said Palacios, 2000 Sydney Olympics course designer and co-course designer with Steve Stephens for the upcoming 2008 Olympic Games. “The sport needs to have different things. Using natural obstacles in speed classes is becoming more and more popular around the world.”
Chapot and her mount, Church Road, had no problem jumping the natural obstacles. Riding out of 40th in the start order, Chapot made easy work of the course, slicing and dicing around every turn. When the timers stopped at 80.51 seconds, Chapot had taken more than four seconds off the previous leading time of 84.91 seconds posted by Alberto Sanchez-Cozar and his chestnut, Champ le Escondida.
Three more combinations would come close to catching Chapot - Nicole Simpson of Wellington, Fla., clocked in at 81.18 seconds riding Lutopia for second place, Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam’s time of 82.18 seconds would leave him third with the big grey, Victor III, and Schuyler Riley and Undine were fourth in a time of 83.52 seconds - but none could knock her out of first place.
“It was one of the smoothest rides I’ve had yet. He’s just so much fun to ride. He gets his game-face on and he’s ready to go,” said Chapot, 35, who was a member of the U.S. Team at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As for sailing over the natural obstacles that caused problems for so many other horse-rider combinations, Chapot explained, “My horse is very careful with that kind of thing, and he’s very fit.”
Formerly shown by Max Amaya of Argentina, Chapot only began riding Church Road, an Irish-bred gelding owned by Sarah Becker and B&B Saddlery, at the beginning of the CN Winter Equestrian Festival.
“We’ve clicked so well, so quickly,” smiled Chapot. “Except for one, I think he’s been first or second in every class that I’ve shown him in.”
Earlier in the day, Chapot also placed fifth riding Capri for owner Mary Chapot in the Seven & Eight Year Old Young Horse class, which was held in the International Arena. The class attracted a remarkable 87 entries with Charlie Jayne emerging the winner riding Gangsta for owner Alex Jayne.
Friday’s $6,000 Spy Coast Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge is part of the North American League (NAL). The NAL offers a year-long Series in six divisions -Children’s Jumper, Adult Jumper, Pony Jumper, Open Jumper, Children’s Hunter, and Adult Hunter presented by Practical Horseman. The Series includes classes held at hundreds of horse shows across the United States and Canada. Finals for all divisions are held at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, Penn., in October.
The CSI4*-W CN WorldWide runs from March 12 to 16. Featured events include Saturday evening’s $50,000 ‘U.S.A. against The World’ Showdown and Sunday’s $200,000 CN WorldWide Grand Prix which also acts as a World Cup Qualifying event.
Results of Class 1005 - $6,000 Spy Coast 1.40m Speed Stake
1 - 7186 CHURCH
ROAD LAURA CHAPOT 0.00 80.518 SARAH BECKER & B & B SADDLERY
The 2008 CN Winter Equestrian Festival attracts the best horses and riders from around the world to Wellington and offers more than $5 million in prize money. For more information, visit www.equestriansport.com