Olympic veteran and World Cup winner Leslie Howard of the USA won the $85,000 Grand Prix De Penn National, the showcase event of the 70th Pennsylvania National Horse Show on Saturday, October 17th with the 9-year-old Belgian warmblood Gentille Van Spieveld (Heartbreaker x Capital).
Four riders from an initial start list of just 20 entries managed to get around Designer Michel Vaillancourt’s 1.60 meter course clear to qualify for the jumpoff round. It wasn’t until the seventh horse in the order, that a clear round was posted on the scoreboard. Peter Lutz and Robin Du Ponthual, owned by Katherine Gallagher and Michael Meller was the first clear. They were followed by the next in the order, Laura Chapot with Quointreau Un Prince, jointly owned by the rider and McLain Ward. It took five more rides before Canadian Jordan MacPherson posted another fault free round with Aldine, owned by SVED Stables. Howard, the 14th rider on course, guided the nine year old bay gelding, owned by GJ Stable, to a faultless performance, making four to return to jump off against the clock.
Lutz returned first in the second round and luck was not with him as his mount had two rails down for an eight fault penalty in a time of 43.92. Chapot, always a speed threat, was next in the ring and she did not take her foot off the gas, but her time of 40.79 came with four faults at the penultimate fence. MacPherson was the third to attempt the course and she turned in a clear, steady round, no penalties in a time of 44.31. This left the door open for Howard, and she walked right through, breaking the timers in 43.71 seconds to win the class.
Howard has won many national and international grand prix classes throughout her storied career, but she’d never before claimed the Grand Prix de Penn National title, and was thrilled to finally be able to add this Grand Prix to her list of wins. “Finally, I get to make the wall,” she said. “I came to this show when I was 11 on a large pony, and I am 59 so I have been here a lot. The first year I rode in the Grand Prix would have been Chase The Clouds, so that would have been 1979. I just kept on trying, so, finally!
“I’m very excited about this horse. He is very green,” continued Howard. “I got the ride about a year ago and he’s done nothing but what I have asked him to do. I have really high hopes for him. He’s been learning the ropes. I have always had a tremendous amount of confidence in the horse because he is so scopey. He is like a big puppy dog, all big and cumbersome, but now he is getting quicker and more coordinated. He wants to do the right thing. I think he’s the horse for the future.”
By virtue of their win, Howard was named Open Jumper Champion. Laura Chapot was named Leading Lady Jumper Rider as well as Leading Open Jumper Rider due to her top placings through the week.
-Source: Classic Communications
Full results of the $85000 Grand Prix de Penn National: