It was redemption in Wellington for Laura Chapot on Thursday, February 2nd as she captured the $35,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup CSI4* Round 4 at the Winter Equestrian Festival.
Chapot, who narrowly missed out on a podium finish during last Saturday’s CSI3* $130,000 Adequan Grand Prix coming in 4th place as the fastest four-faulter in a seven-pair jump off, entered Thursday’s competition with renewed determination.
“I think I kind of learned my lesson from last Saturday night,” joked Chapot. “I was maybe not quite as aggressive enough and I just didn’t want to leave the door open again. If you go out and do the best you can and get beat, you still have to be happy with that. Saturday night I felt like my horse was jumping great and maybe I just didn’t push it quite enough and do the best round I could do. I played it a little bit too safe. Today I was really ready to try and win the class. I wanted to put down my best round and see what happens and let them try and catch me.”
‘Laying down her best round’ was a bar Chapot set high right from the start as she and her longtime partner Quointreau Un Prince (Diamant De Semilly x Rosire) delivered the first clear trip as the class’s lead-off entry.
Competitors and spectators alike couldn’t have asked for better conditions to start WEF Week 4 as clear blue skies and a breezy 75° degrees ushered the 47 starters into the International Arena. Of the original entries that tackled the first round test, only four would ride clear.
Multiple horse and rider pairs found difficulty over the 13 fence track, either lowering poles through the set of three combinations or failing to cross the timers within the 74 second time allowed.
However, those that met the Steve Stephens-designed track with success, did so in great style. Ireland’s Darragh Kenny and the Robert Castro owned entry Caliber 9 (Quasimodo Z x Colman) confirmed a jump off with the second clear round of the class. It wasn’t until 23 trips and a quick ring drag later that another clear round would be posted.
Cue Olympic silver medalist Kent Farrington and the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare and queen of speed, Gazelle (Kashmir Von Schuttershof x Indoctro) as the third clear trip. Following suit, seven trips later were Hardin Towell and Evergate Stables LLC’s Emilie De Diamant A S (Diamant De Semilly x Flipper D’Elle).
With Darragh Kenny electing to retire from the second round, Chapot, Farrington, and Towell would comprise the three combinations returning for the jump off.
First to enter the ring once again, Chapot and the 13-year-old Selle Francais chestnut gelding left a stride out on the approach to the combination at 11 a-b setting the time to beat at 38.67 seconds.
“Going first is always a little bit difficult but I felt like I had a good plan with him. I’m just thrilled with him. He really rose to the occasion and jumped super today,” Chapot shared about Quointreau’s jump off effort. “My horse has a very big stride and has no problem leaving out a stride, especially into a combination, he almost prefers that so that’s one thing I think he had to his advantage. I never have a worry about taking a stride out because he’s used to that and really thrives on it.”
Farrington would actually beat Chapot’s time in 38.49 seconds but a rail down in the B element of the combination left him settling for second place. Towell brought in the yellow ribbon ride also with a rail down in the combination in a time of 39.07 seconds.
After her winning ride in the Thursday’s Challenge Cup, Chapot expressed her appreciation for the performance of her partner that she’s developed since a young horse.
“I’ve had Quointreau since he was five I bought him from McLain [Ward], who is still a part owner. He’s been a super horse for me his whole life. He’s won a ton of grand prixs, he won the first grand prix down here last year. He’s just a horse who really enjoys his job. He’s funny because he’s really just a show horse. He doesn’t care too much to go out exercise and do flat work. He’s very quiet but when he enters the ring he’s a totally different horse,” said Chapot.
Quointreau Un Prince,, who also received the Omega Alpha Healthy Horse Award, will make additional appearances later in the circuit around Week 7 or 8, but for now, Laura is happy to give her horse a well-deserved rest. When asked about the program she puts her horses through to keep them on top form for wins such as Thursday’s, Chapot spoke to the importance of an individualistic approach to each horse:
“Each horse is an individual and you have to cater to their needs. Quointreau in particular, sometimes the hot weather can get to him a little bit so we always try to keep him a little bit fresh and fit enough so that the heat late in the circuit doesn’t bother him. A couple of years ago he started not sweating and that really took a toll on him. Now we just keep him healthy and sound and he continues to jump amazing.”
Full results at this link.