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Laura Chapot Scores Touchdown in $50,000 Nutrena XTN Grand Prix of Palm Beach

Little Big Man Tackles Four-Horse Jump-Off Field at CSI2* Wellington

Wellington, FL February 4, 2007 While Super Bowl Sunday might have been the most high profile sporting event in south Florida on February 4, there was lots of excitement earlier in the afternoon as the best show jumping athletes in the world took to the field for the $50,000 Nutrena XTN Grand Prix of Palm Beach in Wellington, FL.

The second week of the Winter Equestrian Festival, the CSI2* Nutrena/Western Hay Wellington Classic, saw a total of 58 competitors line up to attempt the challenging track devised by Canadian course designer and 1976 Olympic Silver Medallist, Michel Vaillancourt.

Riding eighth in the order, Mario Deslauriers kept Canadian hopes for a second consecutive Sunday victory alive by posting a clear round with his Belgian-bred mare, Naomi. His faultless performance was immediately duplicated by Laura Chapot and Little Big Man to ensure a jump-off.

Another 33 riders attempted to join Deslauriers and Chapot in the tie-breaker, but it was not until Olympic Champion Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil took to the field that another clear round was posted. Lisa Silverman also got the job done on Flubber Cocoy, giving the United States two chances at victory.

In the jump-off, Deslauriers, who still holds the record for being the youngest World Cup Champion at the age of 19, set the early pace, guiding Naomi home clear in a time of 43.95 seconds. Chapot and Little Big Man then nipped around the course in a time of 43.21 seconds to overtake the lead.

Pessoa's hopes for victory were diminished when Oasis lost a shoe over the first fence. When another shoe went flying mid-way through the course, Pessoa was lucky to come home safely in a time of 43.44 seconds to move into second.

A dropped rail for Silverman told the final story, giving the win to Chapot and Little Big Man, her 13-year-old chestnut thoroughbred gelding.

"He was really good, he jumped fantastic," smiled Chapot, who will take $15,000 in prize money back to her hometown of Neshanic Station, NJ. "He is a smart, clever horse that tries his heart out. I've had him since he was four so we've grown up together and he knows my style."

A discouraged Pessoa had to settle for second place, just as he had one week earlier, with Oasis, an 11-year-old bay gelding owned by Hunter Harrison of Double H Farm.

"He lost shoes, again!" said Pessoa, shaking his head. "It would have been okay if we'd had one shoe, but I had to be careful to bring my horse home without any shoes in front. We are going to have to study the problem. It only seems to happen when he is going faster; he is grabbing and pulling off shoes. Oasis is going to have a week off, and hopefully we can figure out what is the problem."

As for the technical course, neither Chapot nor Pessoa were surprised to learn that the second or 'b' element of a dastardly triple combination turned out to be the most problematic obstacle of the day, coming down a total of 21 times.

"To have an oxer to an oxer in one stride is a scope test, and it was difficult for both our horses because they are small, but both of our horses have very big hearts," said Pessoa of the oxer-oxer-vertical triple combination, which was set away from the in-gate in front of a busy VIP tent.

While Deslauriers took third and Silverman placed fourth, Irish competitor Darragh Kerins placed fifth after having a heart-breaking time fault in the first round with the impressive Belgian-bred stallion, Orlando. Katherine Miracle suffered the same fate with Couletto K. James when she left all the poles in their place but exceeded the time allowed of 84 seconds to place sixth.

Show jumping action continues at the Winter Equestrian Festival with the CSI3* Palm Beach Equine Clinic/Adequan Gold Coast Classic from February 7-11. Dressage also joins the line-up of equestrian sport at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club with the Cosequin Wellington Dressage competition from February 8-11.

Official Results: $50,000 Farr XTN Grand Prix Of Palm Beach, FEI Art 238.2.2, Internationale Arena - February 4, 2007

1. Little Big Man, Laura Chapot, Laura Chapot 0/0/43.21

2. Oasis, Rodrigo Pessoa, Double H Farm 0/0/43.44

3. Naomi, Mario Deslauriers, Mario Deslauriers 0/0/43.95

4. Flubber Cocoy, Lisa Silverman, Lisa Silverman 0/4/44.65

5. Orlando, Darragh Kerins, Double H Farm 1/84.99

6. Couletto K. James, Katherine Miracle, Overlook Farm 1/86.90

7. Onira, Brianne Goutal, Cloverleaf Farm 4/78.41

8. True Love, Sarah Segal, Robert Segal 4/79.02

9. As Di Villagana, Pato Muente, San Jose Stables/Pato Muente 4/79.21

10. Ostara, Aimee Aron, Kinloch Ent. 4/80.45

11. Nadia, Georgina Bloomberg, Gotham Enterprizes 4/80.92

12. Up Chiqui, Kent Farrington, Alex Boone 4/81.16

PHOTO CREDIT: Laura Chapot guided Little Big Man to victory in the $50,000 Nutrena XTN Grand Prix of Palm Beach on February 4, 2007, in Wellington, FL. Photo by 2007 Randi Muster.


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