St. Lazare, Quebec – Lauren Hunkin of Kemptville, ON, won the $25,000 Grand Prix of St. Lazare held Saturday, May 29, at the 36th Annual Pépinière and St. Lazare Horse Shows in St. Lazare, QC.
The crowds turned for an afternoon of entertainment that included top level show jumping and the uniquely Canadian RCMP Musical Ride. The spectators saw show jumping sport at its best, with six members of the 22-horse starting field jumping clear over the track set by Canadian Olympic Silver Medalist Michel Vaillancourt to advance to the jump-off.
Hunkin was the fourth rider to return for the jump-off with Larry 0146, a 12-year-old black Oldenburg gelding owned by Synergy Farm. The pair worked their way around the shortened jump-off track, leaving all the rails in place and crossing the timers in 36.75 seconds. That performance moved them to the top of the leader board ahead of pathfinder Francois Lamontagne of St. Eustache, QC, who had also been clear in a time of 38.44 seconds riding Unik Circa. Two more challengers followed, but neither was able to catch Hunkin.
“He came out of the box super today,” said Hunkin, 30 of her partner for the past four seasons. “He wanted to win. All I had to do was steer and stay with him.”
Hunkin has competed in the $25,000 Grand Prix of St. Lazare for the past three years, and enjoyed a third place finish with Larry 0146 in 2008. She can now add a victory to her list of accomplishments, as well as adding the first-place prize money of $8,000 to her bank account.
“It was my third year in a row competing here,” said Hunkin, who opened her own training business, Synergy Farm, in Kemptville, ON, last year. “The show is close to home, and the organizers do a great job for us. Plus, the footing is great.”
Finishing second was Lamontagne riding Unik Circa for owner Vanessa Boisvert. The defending champions, Angela Covert-Lawrence and Utan, were forced to settle for third this time when their time of 39.88 seconds was not fast enough to catch the leaders. The only other rider to produce a clear round in the jump-off was Isabelle Lapierre of Breakeyville, QC, with a considerably slower time of 41.42 seconds riding Vicki Vale for owner Ecuries de la Chaudiere.
Two-time Canadian Olympian Jay Hayes of Orangeville, ON, had the final fence down to end his chances for victory with Leonidas, a 13-year-old Hannoverian gelding owned by Trish Crang.
The final jump-off challenger, hometown favourite Covert-Lawrence, had the fastest time, 36.02 seconds, but at the expense of two rails with Unica van de Roshoeve, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by The Eastwood Group. While Covert-Lawrence was not able to celebrate with a win on her 34th birthday, she and Unica van de Roshoeve had won the $10,000 Pépinière Grand Prix on Sunday, May 23, edging out Hunkin and Larry 0146. Covert-Lawrence also took third place with Candidate du Marquet, an eight-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare she began riding this winter for owner Emmanuelle Bolduc.
Immediately following the $25,000 Grand Prix of St. Lazare, the heart-warming ‘Jump for Hope’ Breast Cancer Survivors Ride was held, featuring women who have emerged from breast cancer and are living their dream of horseback riding. Their bravery and courage was then reflected in the RCMP Musical Ride, a majestic display of red-coated Mounties and black horses executing intricately choreographed patterns to music. The day was topped off by with the Fifth Annual Black Tie and Blue Jeans Gala, held to benefit the Cedars Cancer Institute, on Saturday evening.
For more information on the Pépinière and St. Lazare Horse Shows, please visit www.pepinierehorseshow.com.
$25,000 Grand Prix of St. Lazare – Final Results
Rider - Hometown - Horse - Faults - Time
1. Lauren Hunkin Kemptville, ON Larry 0146 0:0 36.75
2. Francois Lamontagne St-Eustache, QC Unik Circa 0:0 38.44
3. Angela Covert-Lawrence St. Lazare, QC Utan 0:0 39.88
4. Isabelle Lapierre Breakeyville, QC Vicki Vale 0:0 41.52
5. Jay Hayes Orangeville, ON Leonidas 0:4 38:08
6. Angela Covert-Lawrence St. Lazare, QC Unica v/d Roshoeve 0:8 36.02
7. Nicolas-Xavier Belanger Calixa-Lavallee, QC Papabili 4
8. Francois Lamontagne St-Eustache, QC Anton 4
9. Jay Hayes Orangeville, ON Livarot 4
10. Paul Halpern St. Lazare, QC Rolls Royce 4
Photo: Lauren Hunkin of Kemptville, ON, riding Larry 0146 won the $25,000 Grand Prix of St. Lazare at the 2010 Pépinière and St. Lazare Horse Shows. Photo credit: Cealy Tetley, www.tetleyphoto.com