WELLINGTON, Fla., March 29 - In an evening full of thrills and spills, Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, N.J., claimed victory in the $75,000 Penta Water Grand Prix held Saturday night under the lights during the CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
A total of 56 entries entered the International Arena to tackle the track set by FEI 'I' course designer Anthony D'Ambrosio of Red Hook, N.Y. Although six riders were eliminated including Amy Millar and Ian Silitch who both got wet at the liverpool and another seven elected to retire, 11 were clear to advance to the jump-off, giving the huge crowd that packed the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center a lot to cheer about.
The jump-off provided excitement from the moment the first horse entered the ring. Marie Hecart of France and Why Not incurred eight faults, including four for running right through one obstacle, to set the pace for what was to come. Hillary Dobbs and Corlett were the next challengers and when the Harvard student posted a clear round in a time of 42.33 seconds, the race was on.
Canada's Ian Millar had the time with Redefin but a rail down at the last fence would keep him out of top spot. Michael Walton and La Rocco Junior were clear, but their time of 42.63 was not fast enough to catch Dobbs.
When Jeffery Welles and the classy Armani crossed the start line, they were all business. Smooth as silk around the course, the scoreboard flashed the time of 40.50 seconds to move the pair into top spot. Chapot was next up and, with a well-deserved reputation for riding at top speed, she did not disappoint with Church Road. The handy bay gelding ate up the lines and, incredibly, cut more than one full second off the time posted by Welles, stopping the clock at 39.35 seconds to wild cheers from the audience.
As the final challenger, it was all up to Katie Monahan-Prudent and Sassicaia II, owned by her Plain Bay Farm. The pair blistered around the course and came down the final line with the crowd shouting encouragement. While their time of 39.63 seconds was fast, it would prove only good enough for second place. Instead, the win went to Chapot and Church Road, a 12-year-old Irish-bred gelding owned by Sarah Becker and B&B Saddlery that Chapot began riding in January.
"With so many fast and really good riders, I just had to go as fast as I could and leave the rails up," said Chapot, 35, of her jump-off strategy. "Jeffery with that horse is so fast, and to know he beat Hillary, I knew I had to go all out."
When asked for her opinion on the course, Chapot smiled, "Of course I thought it worked out well. You have horses like Hickstead and Authentic and Chris Kappler's horse, and then you have a lot of young and inexperienced horses. Under the lights is a new thing for a lot of young horses. To end up with 11 clear, I thought it worked out well."
The $75,000 Penta Water Grand Prix was also the final event to decide the $200,000 FTI Rider Challenge. A close race all season between Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, N.Y., and last year's winner, Eric Lamaze of Canada, Madden emerged victorious to claim the winner's check of $100,000.
"It's been a long, hard-fought battle," said Madden who earned her FTI Rider Challenge points with Authentic, Judgement, Onlight and Play On. "This was a long series, so it rules out a lot of people. I am lucky to have a lot of horses to show and I think Eric does, too."
Lamaze took home $50,000 as the runner-up, third place finisher Hillary Dobbs claimed $30,000 and Chris Kappler of Pittstown, N.J., earned a $20,000 bonus.
Week 11 of the 2008 CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, the Penta Water Company, Inc., presented by Palm Beach Toyota, concludes Sunday, March 30, when world-class hunter competition will be featured in the International Arena.
The 2008 CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, attracts the best horses and riders from around the world to Wellington, Fla., and offers more than $5 million in prize money. For more information, please visit http://www.equestriansport.com
Results of Class 101 - $75,000 Penta Water Grand Prix
1 7186 CHURCH ROAD LAURA CHAPOT 0.00 76.753 0.00 39.354
SARAH BECKER & B & B SADDLERY
2 4164 SASSICAIA II KATIE PRUDENT 0.00 86.000 0.00 39.635
PLAIN BAY FARM
3 515 ARMANI JEFFERY WELLES 0.00 82.822 0.00 40.500
KIMMEL YEAGER EQUINE LLC
4 4415 CASHMERE CHARLIE JAYNE 0.00 87.087 0.00 41.466
5 3043 CORLETT HILLARY DOBBS 0.00 82.411 0.00 42.334
THE DOBBS GROUP
6 2418 LA ROCCO JUN. MICHAEL WALTON 0.00 81.573 0.00 42.636
PENLYN FARM INC. J. PETER NISSEN
7 6219 UBLESCO CARA RAETHER 0.00 85.908 0.00 42.807
TRELAWNY FARM LLC
8 699 REDEFIN IAN MILLAR 0.00 83.318 4.00 41.611
SUSAN GRANGE & LOTHLORIEN
9 3620 ROXANNE ERIC FLAMENG 0.00 85.924 4.00 44.006
10 5371 WHY NOT MARIE HECART 0.00 84.346 8.00 44.724
DON EDDY FARM ASHLAND FARM
11 1800 GANGSTA CHARLIE JAYNE 0.00 80.922 12.00 44.258
12 7476 HICKSTEAD ERIC LAMAZE 4.00 82.127
ASHLAND STABLES & TORREY PINES
13 2100 AUTHENTIC BEEZIE MADDEN 4.00 82.144
14 1522 VDL ORANTA CHRIS KAPPLER 4.00 82.475
M & K ORANTA LLC
15 1979 VEGAS CHRISTINE MCCREA 4.00 83.568
CANDY TRIBBLE & WINDSOR SHOW STABLE
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PHOTO: "Beezie Madden (top center) topped the FTI Rider Challenge following the final event, the $75,000 Penta Water Grand Prix, on Saturday, March 29, during Week 11 of the CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising. Eric Lamaze was second, Hillary Dobbs was third and Chris Kappler finished fourth."
Photo Credit: Ken Braddick, Horse Sport USA
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/laura-chapot-church-road-penta-water-03-08.html">Laura Chapot and Church Road Claim $75,000 Penta Water Grand Prix</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com