St. Lazare, Quebec – Angela Covert-Lawrence of St. Lazare, QC, scored victory on home turf, winning the $25,000 Eastwood Equine Grand Prix held Saturday, May 26, during the 38th annual Pépinière and St. Lazare Horse Shows in St. Lazare, QC. The win marked the third victory in the annual grand prix competition for Covert-Lawrence, who won in 2004 riding Tomboy Major and again in 2009 with Utan. Three years later, Utan was once again standing in the winner’s circle.
A starting field of 25 horses attempted the first-round track set by Quebec native, Pierre Jolicoeur, with eight jumping clear to advance to the jump-off. As the final rider to post a clear round, Covert-Lawrence had the luxury of being the last to return for the all-deciding jump-off.
Defending champions Francois Lamontagne of St. Eustache, QC, and Sarah Lemieux’s Unik Circa, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, were first to tackle the shortened jump-off course. With every intention of keeping their title, the pair posted a clear round in a time of 39.05 seconds, setting the standard for the rest to chase.
Karina Aziz of Hamilton, ON, gave it her best effort with a new mount, Cordia de Laubry. Training out of Millar Brooke Farm in Perth, ON, the grand prix rookie finished just off the pace, crossing the timers in 39.09 seconds for a third place finish.
Lauren Hunkin of Kemptville, ON, and Larry 0146, who had won the event in 2010, took a shot, but a time of 40.20 seconds eventually left them fourth in the final standings. Two-time Canadian Olympian Jay Hayes of Orangeville, ON, was the only other rider to jump clear in the jump-off, guiding Riva home in a time of 43.15 seconds to round out the top five.
As the final challenger, Covert-Lawrence had the luxury of watching her competition and knew exactly what she had to do to win. “I watched Francois go first and he was so fast, but there were two lines in the jump-off that he did eight strides in, and I thought that Utan could do seven strides in both,” explained Covert-Lawrence of her jump-off strategy. “Lauren and Karina came close to his time, but they also did eight strides in both lines. My plan was to stay efficient in my turns, and to do seven strides in both lines, which I did. Utan was incredible!”
Covert-Lawrence spent the winter training and competing in Florida, with her last competitive appearance being in the $200,000 American Invitational in Tampa on April 7. The two-week Pépinière and St. Lazare Horse Shows marked the return to the show ring for both Covert-Lawrence and her top mount, Utan. “This is Utan’s first grand prix win since Angelstone last year,” said Covert-Lawrence, referring to her victory in the $60,000 Grand Prix of Rockwood held at the Angelstone International Show Jumping Tournament in October. “He has jumped a lot of big classes since he competed at Angelstone, so it was really great for his confidence. He loves to go fast. I don’t run very often, but he loves it when I do!”
As Covert-Lawrence runs her training and sales business at the same property where the Pépinière and St. Lazare Horse Shows are held, she was the home-crowd’s favourite to win the grand prix event. “It’s so much fun to compete in front of so many friends and clients; it’s so nice to have everyone here,” said Covert-Lawrence. “We always get a good crowd, and we’ve had unbelievable weather the past two weeks. The bleachers have been full, and there are people all around the rings. It’s a great atmosphere!”
During the opening week of competition, Covert-Lawrence and Utan topped 28 entries by jumping double clear to win the $10,000 Pépinière Grand Prix. Nicolas Bayzelon also jumped double clear to place second riding Artan, as did Jean-Nicholas Goyette to take third. Covert-Lawrence also advanced to the jump-off with Lux Good, incurring four faults to finish fourth overall in the final standings.
“In the jump-off, there was an inside turn to the last jump, a plank, that no one did,” explained Covert-Lawrence, who won the class by over five seconds. “I thought if ever there was a time to try it, it was now. The open water was also in the jump-off and Utan is such a good water jumper, I just rolled back to it and saved a lot of time there, too.”
Covert-Lawrence had nothing but praise for the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by The Eastwood Group, saying, “He has jumped four classes over the past two weeks without a single rail – he’s been clear every time he’s gone in the ring. He has been so relaxed and really rideable.”
Covert-Lawrence and Utan were members of the winning Canadian Show Jumping Team in the 2011 Buenos Aires Nations’ Cup last November. It was the second year in a row that they were selected to represent Canada in the team event in Argentina. Covert-Lawrence will next compete at the two-week Lake Placid Horse Show from June 26 to July 8 before returning to Quebec for the L’International Bromont show jumping tournaments, beginning July 18.
Angela Covert-Lawrence is a Rider Ambassador for JustWorld International, a not-for-profit, humanitarian organization working as a catalyst for positive change in the developing world by helping children in impoverished communities, and has just returned from visiting its project site in Guatemala. Well-recognized for the charitable component of its annual competition, the Pépinière and St. Lazare Horse Shows held a JustWorld Horseless Horse Show and barbeque following the $25,000 Eastwood Equine Grand Pix of St. Lazare to benefit JustWorld International.
For more information on the Pépinière and St. Lazare Horse Shows, please visit www.pepinierehorseshow.com.
$25,000 Eastwood Equine Grand Prix of St. Lazare – St. Lazare, Quebec
Rider Hometown Horse Faults Time
1. Angela Covert-Lawrence St. Lazare, QC Utan 0:0 38.44
2. Francois Lamontagne St. Eustache, QC Unik Circa 0:0 39.05
3. Karina Aziz Caledon, ON Cordia de Laubry 0:0 39.08
4. Lauren Hunkin Kemptville, ON Larry 0146 0:0 40.20
5. Jay Hayes Orangeville, ON Riva 0:0 43.15
6. Kelley Robinson Kanata, ON Cayotee 0:4 43.01
7. James Gillam North Hatley, QC Channel 0:4 47.72
8. Jennifer Sarsfield Canning, ON Ozaria 0:8 45.91
9. Amy Millar Perth, ON Ferraro K 1
10. Jacqueline Steffens Harriston, ON Beau v/h Keysershof 1
Photo: Covert-Lawrence of St. Lazare, QC, riding Utan won the $25,000 Eastwood Equine Grand Prix of St. Lazare on Saturday, May 28, at the 2011 Pépinière and St. Lazare Horse Shows. Photo credit – Cealy Tetley, www.tetleyphoto.com