Culpeper, VA- Harold Chopping, of Southern Pines, North Carolina, made a statement to kick-off the HITS Culpeper Summer Series, finishing first and second in the $25,000 Brook Ledge Open Jumper Prix held on Friday.
Chopping claimed the blue with Basje, owned by Kendra Bullington, and finished a close second with Contefino 6, owned by Caroline Russell Howe.
Five returned for the jump-off in a battle against the clock, with Chopping returning both first and last in the order. Chopping returned first aboard the eight-year-old grey Holsteiner gelding, Contefino 6.
“Contefino has been doing the 1.40m and 1.45m, and this is his first top three placing in a class of this caliber,” said Chopping. “My plan with him in the jump-off was to stay on the most efficient track within his abilities; I didn’t want to push too much, I just wanted to be efficient with him.”
They took to the shortened course of eight jumping efforts designed by Marina Azevedo of Campinas, Brazil, clocking in with a fault-free round in 42.926 seconds. With a speedy round that set the tone for the jump-off, the remaining field of competitors knew that Chopping was the one to chase.
Next to contest the shortened course was Ali Ramsay of Victoria, British Columbia, piloting her own Hermelien VD Hooghoeve. They put down a clear, quick round in a valiant effort to steal the lead from Chopping, but their time of 43.086, just fractions behind, would ultimately earn them the third-place spot.
Ocala, Florida, equestrian Ian Silitch followed Ramsay with Cordovo, owned by Gaston Family Investments LLC. Silitch and Cordovo zoomed through the course at a full-out gallop, but an unfortunate rail at the second fence, followed by a rail at A of the mid-course combination would ultimately land them with the fifth-place prize as they finished in 42.107.
Each trip had yet to edge out Chopping for the top spot. Debbie McCarthy Connor and Zim, owned by Connor & Ebetino Jumpers, LLC., entered with the last opportunity to steal away with the win. Opting for a more careful track, they clocked in fault-free in 49.768.
Chopping’s name was set at the top of the leaderboard as he entered with his second mount, Basje. The seasoned Dutch Warmblood gelding powered through the course, claiming the blue-ribbon with each step of his massive stride. They put down a cool, clear round, coming in at 42.159 just behind his own time.
“I was not necessarily trying to catch up to my first time, Basje is quite experienced and he covers the ground quickly with his long stride, so it just happens to be that he came in little faster,” said Chopping of his winning mount. “He moves away from the jumps nicely; I just stay out of his way and let him do his thing.”
For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit www.HitsShows.com