Laura Chapot Tops 41 in Friday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix

Saugerties, NY - September 3, 2011 - As excitement builds for the return of the coveted Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix and the debut of the first ever Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final next weekend, HITS show jumping action returned to Saugerties this week for the last leg of the qualifying season. Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, New Jersey opened the Grand Prix action with a win in Friday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health in the irons of Umberto, owned by Mary Chapot. She topped a first round field of 41 to beat out 19 in the jump-off for blue ribbon honors.

Veteran course designer Olaf Petersen of Paehl, Germany offered horses and riders some tricky obstacles, including an airy triple combination and a high oxer as the final fence in his first round course. The first clear round came five trips in as Karen Cudmore of Omaha, Nebraska and Blair Cudmore's Shea left all the rails up within the time allowed of 76 seconds. Three rounds later, Beth Underhill of Schomberg, Ontario and her own Viggo guaranteed a jump-off with the second clear round of the afternoon. Seventeen more horse-and-rider-combinations would go clear before the course was reset for the jump-off.

"I was surprised at all the clear rounds," said Chapot. "The course was technical, but the horses like the footing here and jump well at this venue."  Nine riders picked up time faults in the first round and many saw trouble at the triple combination, but it was the 13th and final fence that broke several hearts. It handed jumping faults to eight riders and kept two from advancing to the second round.

In the jump-off, Chapot rode 12th and knocked Cudmore and Blair Cudmore's Ceonto from the top spot in a time of 43.347 seconds.   "I knew the jump-off was going to be fast. I was able to see the first riders go and I saw them getting faster and faster," said Chapot. "Rather than try and catch the leader, I just wanted to go clear and I was surprised when I saw our time."

While the 2011 Pfizer Million is just around the corner, Chapot has her sights set on next year.  "This is a fast horse and he is going well, but he's not quite ready this year and we want to have a horse left for next year and the year after," she said.

After losing their grip on the winning spot, Cudmore and Ceonto finished in second with a clear jump-off round in 44.056 seconds. Hugh Graham of Reddick, Florida was third in the irons of King Ridge Stables' Executive Privilege 3E after going double clear and posting a jump-off time of 44.512 seconds.

Rounding out the top five was Todd Minikus of Loxahatchee, Florida in fourth aboard one of his three mounts of the day, Oakwood's Stables' Urame. He finished the jump-off course in 44.691 seconds, but set the fastest time of the day in 39.681 seconds with four faults aboard Candy Tribble & Windsor Show Stables, Inc.'s Sweetheart to finish ninth. Duncan McFarlane of San Ramon, California finished in fifth with a time of 45.030 seconds on Simone Coxe's Mr. Whoopy.

"This was a good class. The course was tricky and the time allowed was snug," said McFarlane who has made the trip east for next week's Pfizer Million.  "I love coming here for the atmosphere and the beauty of this area," he added with a smile. "We were here last year and are happy to be back."

Riders and horses from all corners of the country will soon meet at HITS-on-the-Hudson as next weekend's featured classes near. Show jumping continues this week as Hunter riders have one last chance to qualify for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final in Saturday's $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix. Grand Prix action will resume on Sunday as High-Performance riders take to the course of the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.

$10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome

After winning last week’s $40,000 HITS Grand Prix in Culpeper, Virginia, Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas returned to Saugerties with a bang. She topped a field of 25 in the Wednesday’s $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome at HITS-on-the-Hudson aboard MTM Farm’s MTM Centano. The win gave her the momentum to pocket a 11th place finish with MTM Centano and seventh place finish on MTM Timon in Friday’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.

Chapot also used Wednesday’s class as a matinee performance to Friday’s win, finishing on the heels of Fenney in second with Umberto. Gemma Paternoster capped the top three in the $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome in the irons of her own Osiris.

About SmartPak Equine
Founded in 1999, SmartPak Equine is the country's largest online and catalog retailer serving the needs of the active and engaged horse owner. The patented SmartPak™ supplement feeding system has simplified the process of feeding horse supplements and medications, making it easier for thousands of riders to keep their horses healthier by ensuring their supplements are being fed correctly. SmartPak's diverse and expansive product offering includes its own line of supplements, tack, and horse blankets as well as an extensive selection of leading brands of equine health, apparel, tack, and equipment. SmartPak is a six-time Inc. 500/5000 honoree and is the only equine company ever named to the Inc 500 list. SmartPak is backed by Waltham, Massachusetts-based North Bridge Growth Equity.

HITS, Inc. produces high-quality, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS has been producing shows since 1982 and is now a nationwide company with world-class circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia. In 2010, HITS took the industry to new heights when it hosted the first-ever Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. HITS will once again offer the most innovative weekend in show jumping history in 2011 when it hosts the second annual Pfizer Million and the inaugural Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, September 10-11, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit Stay connected with HITS, join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!

$25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health
1 Umberto Mary Chapot Laura Chapot $7,500 0 0 43.347
2 Ceonto Blair Cudmore Karen Cudmore $5,500 0 0 44.056
3 Executive Privilege 3E  King Ridge Stables Hugh Graham $3,250 0 0 44.512
4 Urame Oakwood Stables Todd Minikus $2,000 0 0 44.691
5 Mr. Whoopy  Simone Coxe Duncan McFarlane $1,500 0 0 45.030
6 My Self De Breve  Haras De La Roque Marie Hecart $1,250 0 0 46.022
7 MTM Timon  MTM Farm Tracy Fenney $1,000 0 0 46.621
8 Viggo Beth Underhill Beth Underhill $750 0 0 48.632
9 Sweetheart Candy Tribble & Windsor Show Stables, Inc. Todd Minikus $750 0 4 39.681
10 Fatalis Fatum  Daniel Bluman Daniel Bluman $500 0 4 41.502
11 MTM Centano  MTM Farm Tracy Fenney $500 0 4 43.386
12 Lariccello Alison Heafey Helen McNaught $500 0 4 43.391

Photos: Laura Chapot on course with Mary Chapot's Umberto in Friday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. © ESI Photography. Laura Chapot and Mary Chapot's Umberto receive first place honors from HITS' Lisa Engel in Friday's $25,000 SmartPak Grand prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. © ESI Photography. Tracy Fenney and MTM Farm's MTM Centano on their way to winning Wednesday's $10,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome at HITS Saugerties. © ESI Photography.