SAUGERTIES, NY (August 4, 2012) – 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.
Watching from the sidelines today at HITS-on-the-Hudson, along with hundreds of spectators, were representatives from David Lerner Associates, who hosted an exhibitor luncheon, Anne Connolly of SmartPak, as well as Mayor Shayne Gallo of Kingston, New York and guest Carrie Jones Ross. The Mayor was impressed with the size and scope of the HITS-on-the-Hudson operation and the magnitude of talent on display. “I’m awed by what Tom [Struzzieri] has built here in Ulster County,” said Mayor Gallo. “This is a wonderful addition to our community and I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to see it all first hand.”
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.
$10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome
As if total Grand Prix domination wasn’t enough, earlier in the week Chapot first and second place out of field of 34 starters in the $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome.
The blue ribbon came aboard Elizabeth R, a mount she owns with Barbara Rochford, while the red ribbon came aboard Carpe Diem, owned by The Edge.
Rounding out the top five in Wednesday’s feature class was Peter Leone of Greenwich, Connecticut aboard Monica Carrera’s Lincourt Gino in third, followed by Callan Solem and Sycamore Station, LLC’s Courage in fourth and Hendrik Hofschroer of New Fairfield, Connecticut and his own Copperfield in fifth.
This weekend’s social and competition calendar is in high gear with two specialty Trunk Shows on Friday and Saturday nights, presented by Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern in collaboration with Elizabeth Locke Jewels, DIG, Lux Hair Salon and Der Dau. On Saturday afternoon to celebrate the first-ever HITS Children’s Hunter Pony Finals, presented by Mona’s Monograms, at HITS-on-the-Hudson, the Diamond Mills Café will host an ice-cream social for riders at 1:30pm. On Sunday, all eyes will be on the $100,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health who will be onsite throughout the weekend taking in great competition and spread ing the word about the importance of equine wellness.
About SmartPak Equine
Founded in 1999, SmartPak Equine is the country’s largest online and catalog retailer serving the needs of the active and engaged horse owner. The patented SmartPak™ supplement feeding system has simplified the process of feeding horse supplements and medications, making it easier for thousands of riders to keep their horses healthier by ensuring their supplements are being fed correctly. SmartPak’s diverse and expansive product offering includes its own line of supplements, tack, and horse blankets as well as an extensive selection of leading brands of equine health, apparel, tack, and equipment. SmartPak is a six-time Inc. 500/5000 honoree and is the only equine company ever named to the Inc 500 list. SmartPak is backed by Waltham, Massachusetts-based North Bridge Growth Equity.
About HITS, Inc.
HITS, Inc. produces high-quality, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS has been producing shows since 1982 and is now a nationwide company with world-class circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia. In 2010, HITS took the industry to new heights when it hosted the first-ever Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. In 2011, HITS hosted the richest weekend in show jumping with the return of the Pfizer Million and the introduction of the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final. In 2012, the historic weekend will get even sweeter with the addition of the $250,000 HITS 3’ Hunter Prix Final September 8-9.
Media should contact the HITS Media Team at 845.246.8833 or e-mail Media_Info@HitsShows.com.