Saugerties, NY: As the curtain closed on Week VII at HITS-on-the-Hudson, riders descended on the Grand Prix Ring to try their luck in Sunday’s $50,000 HITS Grand Prix.
The team to beat was Neshanic Station, New Jersey equestrian Laura Chapot and Thornhill Kate, co-owned with Mary Chapot.
Chapot has been the winningest rider on the Grand Prix tour at HITS Saugerties this season, with 12 wins and several more top-five placings, and expressed her gratitude. “Thank you to HITS for sponsoring this class and for putting on classes at this caliber for us to come and compete in.”
The course designer, Danny Foster of Ontario, Canada, built a technical course that tested the navigational skill of each horse and rider. Four would go clean in the first round to advance the jump-off. The first round course consisted of 17 jumping efforts and many rollback turns set out on a long, but winding track.
“There were many places to have a rail down as the course was sort of long, and there were some tricky distances,” said Chapot. “The triple in the first round really tested the distances through that combination that made for a lot of effort from the horse.”
Foster took advantage of the large Grand Prix Ring at HITS Saugerties in designing Sunday’s course. The jump-off course stretched the length of the ring with single fences and rollbacks that allowed riders to gallop, but also required them to strategically turn and angle multiple fences.
First to jump-off was Arturo Parada of Zapopen Jal, Mexico, aboard Constar. Parada and Constar scored the second place prize in Wednesday’s Brook Ledge Open Welcome, and returned to the Grand Prix Ring on Sunday to claim another spot in the top five. Two unfortunate rails, and a refusal at the last fence left Parada and Constar with 14 total faults, after two time penalties, as they crossed the finish in 56.609. They would end the day with third place.
Jonathan McCrea of East Windsor, Connecticut, followed aboard Special Lux, owned by Candy Tribble and Windsor Show Stables, Inc. McCrea, who had nabbed two top-five spots in Friday’s SmartPak Grand Prix, including third place with Special Lux, took to the course no holds barred. A fast time of 46.590 would have been good enough for the win, but a rail at the A element of the mid-course combination gave them four faults and the eventual red ribbon for their efforts.
Chapot and Thornhill Kate were last to test the shortened course.
“Kate is very adjustable, and since I’ve gotten her, her stride has really become a lot longer,” said Chapot of her winning partner. “Now I don’t feel like I’m just stuck when we need to move up a stride, and that’s really nice now because I know she has the scope to jump everything.
Chapot knew that she needed to jump clear to overpower Jonathan McCrea’s very quick time. She and “Kate” moved through the course carefully and strategically to make it through the finish in the time allowed with all of the rails up. They clocked in fault-free in 50.863 to grab the top spot and go home with the blue ribbon.
“It’s almost harder to go last in the jump-off when all you need to do is have a clear round, because Jonathan was very fast,” said Chapot. “If I had a rail, or I didn’t go for it, I wasn’t going to beat him. At the same time you want to be careful without being overly careful, so it can be a nice spot to be in but sometimes is more of a challenge.”
Fourth place went to Tracey Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas, and MTM Reve Du Paradis, owned by MTM Farm. Chapot also claimed fifth place with ISHD Dual Star, owned by Mary Chapot, with the fastest four-fault ride in the first round.
The Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix CSI – 5* will take place next Sunday, September 11, at 2pm in the Grand Prix Ring at HITS-on-the-Hudson. For more information visit www.HitsShows.com