Saugerties, NY: As the final week of the spring series at HITS-on-the-Hudson came to a close, riders and horses gathered to compete for the lion’s share in the grand finale, the $75,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix.
Many big names filled the Order of Go to contest the field that would play host to Olympians, World Cup Finalists and many up-and-coming competitors. The team to beat was Laura Chapot, of Neshanic Station, New Jersey, and ISHD Dual Star, owned by Mary Chapot. The sweet victory wasn’t all for Chapot as she also garnered the second-place prize aboard Thornhill Kate.
Chapot has been sweeping the competition all week taking home first and second in Friday’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix. The high-caliber dollars weren’t all Chapot was proud of as she packed for home, giving extra credit to her mounts as well as the sponsor.
“Purina does a tremendous amount to support these shows, without them we wouldn’t be here having a great time and vying for the top,” said Chapot in a nod to the title sponsor’s support. “Dual Star jumped fabulous today, I thought she was super smooth in the jump-off, she hardly put a foot down wrong. I’ve only had my second-place horse, [Thornhill Kate], for six months now and I’m over the moon with her performance today as well.”
Thirteen returned to challenge the jump-off over the course designed by Manuel Esparza of Mexico City, Mexico. “He [Manuel Esparza] did a nice job on the course today, he knows who he is building for; there were a lot of very fast riders and horses here today—like Jimmy, Peter and Mclain.”
First to make a case for the victory over the shortened course was Jimmy Torano, of Wellington, Florida, piloting Daydream, co-owned with Danielle Torano. They clocked in fault-free in 40.803 to set the tone for the class, ultimately earning them sixth place. Torano would later return with his second ride in the jump-off, Quality, owned by Deborah Perkins, garnering the tenth place ribbon as well.
Cassandra Kahle, of Langley, British Columbia, followed with Wall Street, owned by Redfield Farm. They too put in a clear round, not quite fast enough for the lead, but they would eventually take home seventh.
Olympic silver-medalist Peter Leone, of Greenwich, Connecticut, followed suit with Wayfarer, owned by Lionshare Farm, with the next clear round to etch their name among the top placings. They angled the first fence and powered through the rollback to the second, then angled the mid-course vertical before the combination to save time. They finished the course in a speedy, clear 39.130, setting the pace for the remaining challengers. They would ultimately land fourth-place.
Michael Hughes, of Allendale, New Jersey, and winner of last Sunday’s $75,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix, followed Leone with Sans Soucis Z, owned by Caroline Lloyd. The seconds were winding down as they powered through the finish, just three-tenths of a second behind Leone in 39.410 to seal the eventual fifth-place position.
The rounds got quicker as young, talented equestrian Catherine Tyree, of Chicago, Illinois, entered next with Enjoy Louis, owned by Joseph and Mary Tyree. They put in an even quicker time of 37.953, shaving two seconds off to climb to the top of the leaderboard. When the class was done, they’d take home the third-place prize.
Tyree’s lead was short lived, as the victors Chapot and ISHD Dual Star followed. The round was blazing-fast and cheers emanated from the crowd as they angled each fence to knock seconds off the clock. Chapot and the dynamite bay mare clocked in fault-free at 36.988
“I have to keep my head collected,” said Chapot of her plan for the jump off. “I knew it was going to be a fast jump-off, but I have to remind myself that my horses are already very fast and I have to ride my ride and not try to catch people.”
Five trips remained in between Chapot’s leading time and her ride aboard Thornhill Kate as the last of the jump-off. All would gain four faults as they tested the short course, including Lauren Ward, of Brewster, New York, who would ultimately earn ninth-place with Malou, owned by husband Mclain Ward.
The final contender before Chapot’s final mount was the number one ranked rider in the world, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and three time HITS $1 Million Grand Prix winner Mclain Ward, also of Brewster, New York. Ward piloted Zerly through each test and his time seemed to best Chapot until an unfortunate rail at the mid-course vertical prior to the combination foiled his shot for the win. He would take home the eighth-place prize.
With the win secured and in tow, Chapot entered with Thornhill Kate to take the chance at capturing first- and second-place, and that she did stopping the clock with a cool, clear ride in 37.773 to lock in the red ribbon.
The shows will return to HITS-on-the-Hudson for Week IV on July 20. For more information and complete show schedule, visit HitsShows.com.