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Sprite’s Victory in $6,000 1.40m Makes Laura Chapot’s Day at WEF

WEF First Outing Win for Britain’s Nick Skelton and Russel

Wellington, FL – January 31, 2007 – A cool sunny morning greeted riders on the opening day of week two, the Nutrena/Western Hay Wellington Classic, at the Winter Equestrian Festival, and the clear skies were a very pleasant precursor to the warmer temperatures forecast for the coming days.

In the opening competition, a 1.45m Table II Speed Class at USEF Level 8, Britain’s Nick Skelton, who missed the first week at WEF, launched Russel out of the starting blocks and the gray stallion responded with relish around a flowing course designed by Canadian Michel Vaillancourt. Although it contained several roll-backs, the course was wide open and fairly forgiving, offering one short-cut option following the vertical at fence three, that tempted a large percentage of the field. Very few riders incurred time penalties, however, by opting to take the longer route to the double combination (4a/b), and in terms of fences claiming more than their fair share of victims, a number of riders faulted at the corner-positioned fence 7 oxer as well as the vertical fence 10 adjacent to the arena gate.

U.S. veteran, Joe Fargis, took an early lead in this class riding Edgar 12, which he maintained until just eight riders remained of the 34 starters, although many were happy to give their horses a pipe-opener and were not challenging for the lead. At the half-way point, Connor Swail and Nepomuk came close to eclipsing Fargis’s time, but finished one second off the pace, to finish third overall, taking into account Skelton’s scorching round.

Nick Skelton candidly admitted that, “I think I won the class because everybody else was sleeping. I thought I’d strike while the iron’s hot and catch them while they were sleeping,” referring to the fact that many of the riders appeared to be using this class as a familiarization round. Skelton continued by saying that his horses (Russel and Love Z) had traveled well, having only arrived in Florida from Britain on Sunday. Talking specifically about Russel, he said, “It’s his first time out since Christmas. I really think he’s really a better horse outdoors,” and added that he would be playing everything by ear during the remaining weeks of WEF.

Skelton concluded by saying; “The World Cup is off my agenda. I’m going to start jumping Arko [currently his #1 horse] at home, then I’ll probably start him off in Rome, or somewhere like that. He’s had a long lay-off but hopefully, touch wood, he’ll come back and be as good as he was … hopefully. I need him.”

Jumper Division Table II, 1.40m Speed Class (Section A)

In the first of two sections in the Jumper Division Table II 1.40m Speed Class, Laura Chapot scored a superb win riding her bouncy 12-year-old gray mare, Sprite – by the legendary Selle Français sire, Quidam de Revel. With a late draw in the field of 63 starters, the speedy Sprite needed little encouragement to leap from the starting gate and leave scorch marks on the turf as she flew around another user-friendly course.

Interestingly, among the 11-obstacle course, the triple bar at fence 8, following a left-rein loop from a straight line which included the triple combination at the top of the arena, was easily misjudged, despite its inviting appearance, and attracted an unexpectedly high volume of errors. Likewise, the related distances from the triple combination (6a/b/c), and also the double at 10a/b needed careful riding and a good stride pattern.

Riding with considerable determination, Jonathan McCrea gave Primo an energetic clear round to claim an early lead in 64.850 seconds, although he was overtaken a few riders later by Shane Sweetnam and Victor III who improved the target time by some three seconds. When Laura Chapot entered the ring, however, Sprite left them all in the dust, flying the fences and eating up the ground with her deceptive stride, to set an invincible time of 58.936.

After the win, when asked about her relationship with Sprite, a beaming Laura Chapot said, “Oh my god! She’s like my child. I got her when she was five and she’s really near and dear to my heart. She’s got the greatest personality. I love a gray horse anyway and she just has such a fabulous style.”

Chapot went on to explain, “When I saw her the first time, I said ‘I’ve just got to have that horse.’ We saw her down here in Palm Beach. At the time she was showing with Helen McNaught in the Schooling Jumpers. I liked her then, but didn’t think much of it. Then the next time I saw her was at Lake Placid with Lyn Little’s daughter, Marilynn, and that’s where I bought her. I knew right away that she was fast, careful, wanted to do the job.”

Continuing with her first impressions, Chapot said, “She’s not as easy to ride as she might appear, but I thought then that I’d learn to ride her because she’s such a great horse and tries so hard. She’s so fast without even trying, and for a small horse she has the longest stride. For example, in this class there’s a line down the side of the ring where a lot of people were doing six strides to the triple combination, and with her I did five and was pulling up the whole way, which just goes to show she’s got this huge ability to cover the ground without even pressing her to go fast. That sometimes makes me wonder if I’m going to get beat or not, because I’m not running her as fast as she’ll go, but she’s still faster than a lot of horses.”

With regard to Vaillancourt’s course, Chapos added, “I thought it was a nice course, a really nice course. But, objectively, I have to say it’s inviting; if you want to go fast you can, if you don’t want to go fast it’s a nice track to get your horse out on the field and a nice way to introduce them to the Grand Prix ring. I think in this class you get a few people who are just trying to get their horses in the ring and have a practice and not run them as fast as they can go. But I was definitely in it to win the class.”

As far as her ongoing plans for WEF with Sprite are concerned: “I was tempted to do a couple of the 1.45m classes right off the bat, but I was thinking about the rest of the year, and there’s so much down here. She enjoys the 1.40m classes. They are very easy for her, so I was thinking if I keep her in these courses down here, she’s got the rest of the year where she can do some of the bigger classes and some little Grand Prix. And it doesn’t stress her to go twice a week at this level.”

On the question of bigger classes for Sprite: “I don’t think she would do the Sunday classes down here. She certainly has the ability to jump quite a bit higher than this, which makes it very easy for her and it’s something she can do week after week. She’s an extremely careful horse, and is small in size but tries so hard and over-jumps a little bit, so we try to keep it easy for her and not press her to her limits. During the spring and summer she’ll do some of the smaller Grand Prix, 1.45m, 1.50m, but I would hate to over-face her and break her heart, because you have a small horse that tries that hard, you never want to show them what they can’t do.”

Talking about having her dad, the legendary Frank Chapot as her trainer; “To have someone with that kind of experience and that knowledge is great. What a great source to draw on. He’s got an incredible natural talent and instinct. He’s like a Jimmy Williams, a Bert de Nemethy … he instinctively has a feel for horses and they respect him when he walks in the barn. You just can’t find that with every trainer.”

There was never any doubt that Laura Chapot would follow in her parents’ footsteps: “I wanted to do it my entire life. I’ve had the opportunity to do a number of other things, but this for sure has always been my passion.”

Jumper Division Table II, 1.40m Speed Class (Section B)

In the second section of this Jumper Division, there were few riders once again prepared to go hell-for-leather over the user-friendly course. Germany’s Markus Beerbaum, another new arrival from Europe this week, rarely gives any quarter, however, and gave Constantin 24 a foot-perfect round in 65.116 seconds.

As the class unwound, it was the triple combination (10a/b/c), one from home, that generated the majority of errors, and a number of riders were clear until they hit the home stretch. Following a round that was without her usual flow, Margie Engle also had a less than perfect approach to the triple, but she managed to hold Hidden Creek’s Calippo 12 together, and then slither over the last, rattling rails along the way, to stop the clock in 59.575 seconds.

Laura Chapot gave Engle a run for her money, this time riding Cilthe Z – who doesn’t have the same nimble speed of Sprite – and despite a determined effort they finished in second place, over two seconds off the winning pace.

Although Laura Kraut also gave it her best effort, turning Namur 47 on a dime, subsequent faults at the triple dropped them out of the top places.

Results of Class 1002 - $8000 1.45m II, Sec 1 - Nutrena/Western Hay Wellington Classic - January 31, 2007

T/A: 78.00

1 3438 RUSSEL NICK SKELTON 0.00 65.186 $2375


2 1467 EDGAR 12 JOE FARGIS 0.00 65.863 $1350


3 2991 NEPOMUK CONOR SWAIL 0.00 66.804 $800


4 2559 REGINA V ADDISON PHILLIPS 0.00 67.289 $650


5 1315 CEDRIC LAURA KRAUT 0.00 67.656 $550


6 1136 IMPULSIVE SCOTT LENKART 0.00 68.860 $450


7 1316 OLYMPIA LAURA KRAUT 0.00 70.431 $400


8 500 ORLANDO DARRAGH KERINS 0.00 71.257 $350


9 737 JULIA DU BRIO PETER LEONE 0.00 76.810 $300


10 1362 SAMANTHA LAURA CHAPOT 4.00 64.175 $275


11 388 MALCOLM NORMAN DELLO JOIO 4.00 65.549 $250


12 687 ALIAS MCLAIN WARD 4.00 66.383 $250


Rank Num Horse Name NAT Faults Time

Results of Class 1004A - $6000 1.40m II, Sec 1- Nutrena/Western Hay Wellington Classic- January 31, 2007

T/A: 75.00

1 1366 SPRITE LAURA CHAPOT 0.00 58.936 $1850


2 2819 VICTOR III SHANE SWEETNAM 0.00 61.421 $1200


3 1722 RAIMOND W LESLIE HOWARD 0.00 62.110 $635


4 760 PRIMO JONATHAN MCCREA 0.00 64.850 $400


5 3422 OLE MAC CONE 0.00 64.988 $325


6 1318 LE PRESTIGE ST LOIS LAURA KRAUT 0.00 65.796 $275


7 2713 QUARNAK DE LONGPRE ROBERT KRAUT 0.00 66.024 $275


8 470 CINDY 247 JUDY GAROFALO TORRES 0.00 66.047 $250


9 503 NIGHT TRAIN DARRAGH KERINS 0.00 66.183 $250


10 64 AUTHENTIC BEEZIE MADDEN 0.00 68.075 $180


11 3148 KAISER DE LA COUR JACK HARDIN TOWELL J 0.00 70.711 $180


12 168 CARNANDO THERESA TOURINHO 0.00 74.040 $180


Results of Class 1004B - $6000 1.40M II, Sec 1 -Nutrena/Western Hay Wellington Classic - January 31, 2007

T/A: 77.00

1 2732 HIDDEN CREEK'S CALIPPO 12 MARGIE ENGLE 0.00 59.575 $1850


2 1357 CILTHE Z LAURA CHAPOT 0.00 61.969 $1200


3 1980 PAVAROTTI TODD MINIKUS 0.00 62.214 $635


4 2428 PALONA LAURA BOWERY 0.00 63.696 $400


5 1518 NAOMI MARIO DESLAURIERS 0.00 64.545 $325


6 3168 DARIOS V MARK SAMUEL 0.00 64.788 $275


7 3511 CONSTANTIN 24 MARKUS BEERBAUM 0.00 65.116 $275


8 2818 SIENNA SHANE SWEETNAM 0.00 67.636 $250


9 2292 NICOLETTE THOMAS CERRA 0.00 69.048 $250


10 555 CANDYMAN LISA JACQUIN 0.00 70.304 $180


11 386 GLASGOW NORMAN DELLO JOIO 0.00 70.404 $180


12 972 MAZELLE ERIC FLAMENG 0.00 71.248 $180


PHOTO CREDIT: Laura Chapot riding Sprite to victory today © Photo by PMG Pictures/Peter Llewellyn.


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