Articles: Press Release
Laura Chapot and Little Big Man Spring to Victory in the
Zada Masters Cup at the 2005 Winter Equestrian Festival
PHOTO CREDIT: Laura Chapot and Little Big Man are victorious in the $75,000 Zada Enterprises, LLC Masters Cup - CSI 3*. Photo by Randi Muster
Diana De Rosa for Phelps Media Group, Inc.
Mason Phelps, Jr. of Phelps Media Group, Inc. at (561)
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Wellington, FL - February 27, 2005 - It was Little Big Man that carried Laura Chapot to the winning clear jump-off round in a time of 34.52 seconds in the $75,000 Zada Enterprises, LLC Wellington Masters, CSI 3* on Sunday, February 27. Her dad, Frank Chapot, noted Olympic Veteran and Chef d'Equipe of many winning Olympic teams, feels he has the recipe to her success. "I give her the best advice I can, and when she follows it she wins." That advice is to "Let him go clean!"
Margie Engle and Hidden Creek's Wapino were just shy of taking away the win when their clear go timed out at 34.74 seconds, less than one quarter of a second off the mark. Chapot had a plan that was unbeatable and that was to follow her father's advice and go clear. Even though the 79 second time allowed was tight, Chapot wasn't worried. "My horse and I tend to ride fast."
Despite the rainy conditions, a crowd surrounded the arena to enjoy many of the nation's finest riders try their skills over the Leopoldo Palacios-Jugo designed course. Palacios, who is known for the technicality he builds into every course, tested the field with 13 jumps in the first round, which included one triple and one double combination, for a total of 16 jumping efforts.
Three days of rain forced the competition to be moved from the grass Internationale Arena to the DeNèmethy Arena. The all weather footing was better and safer for the horses to jump on by Sunday afternoon during the 2005 Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in Wellington, Florida.
Many of the 47 horses originally scheduled to compete in the class scratched due to the rain and at 3:00 when the class started, the field had dwindled down to 31 starters. Chapot was the third rider to go in the first round, and the first to go clear. When they cleared the triple combination, which had poles down 13 times at the B element and 10 times at C, she received overwhelming applause from the audience.
She later admitted, "The triple was a particular challenge. It had difficult distances inside and a plank as the third element."
Six horses later, Markus Beerbaum on Le Mans 8 produced the second clear go. They cleared the fences with room to spare, and his huge stride covered the ground quickly.
It took another eight horses before Eric Lamaze, riding Tempete V/H Lindehof, put in the third clear go. They had been the big winners on Thursday, February 24, in the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup. His round was aggressive and solid.
Noted Canadian Olympic Medalist Ian Millar was right behind Lamaze and produced the fourth clear go. Millar rode In Style, who was true to his name, and their round was one of the most stylish of the day with smooth turns to neat jumps.
Margie Engle and Hidden Creek's Wapino were 30th in the order and the next to last riders to go in the class. When Engle started around the course, it was obvious she was going for it, despite the fact that this horse is fairly new to the grand prix arena and this was their first time competing in a WEF Sunday Grand Prix. They had three rubs on the course (one at the middle element of the triple combination), but all the fences stayed up.
In the jump-off, Chapot negotiated Little Big Man so neatly, tightly and quickly around the course that Engle later admitted to a comment Millar laughingly said to her after they watched her go. "I think we are all riding for second," he noted. It was obvious that this little horse with the big jump was probably unbeatable. Like a cat, he raced around the course, cut corners and jumped as if he had springs in his feet, shaving time and setting the pace and time to beat.
Chapot's strategy had worked as planned, leaving the other riders with no room for negotiating a tighter, faster course. "I knew I had a lot of very fast people behind me. So I tried to go all out," she explained. Since she's owned Little Big Man since he was four years old, and now he's 11, she and the Dutch Warmblood work well together. "He suits me very well," she explained. "He's grown up with me and he knows how I ride."
On the sidelines her dad and mom watched as their daughter performed one of the strongest rides of her career. "She knows the game now," commented her dad, but then admitted, "but you get some ulcers." When asked if she likes having her dad there when she competes, Laura said, "I feel really confident when he's around. I know he'll be there to tell me not to do something really dumb."
After her dad saw her go, he was pleased. "I thought they (the other riders in the jump-off) were going to have to pull all the stops out to beat her. She was fast after the first fence and made a good turn."
While her dad was feeling confident, albeit with nervous tension, her mom, Mary, was "keeping my fingers crossed," knowing that, "everyone behind you is a contender."
Next to go behind Chapot in the jump-off was Beerbaum and Le Mans 8. They ended up taking down 5A half way through the course and tripped ever so slightly after 5B. They finished with 4 faults in 37.75 seconds.
Lamaze and Tempete were next and with an unbelievable turn from the first fence (which was the last on the original course), they sliced the corner, reducing the time it took to jump the next fence. The crowd watched to see if this was an indication of what was to come. However, their pace slowed down towards the end of the course and, though they were clear, their time of 36.34 seconds put them 3rd in the final order.
Millar and In Style were the next to go. They quietly flowed to the first fence and shaved as much as they could on their turns but as they jumped fence #3 (which was also the third fence on the original course), set at an angle near the far side, they just took the top rail with them. That would be the only downed pole. They finished with a 4 fault round in a time of 36.12 seconds.
Engle and Wapino were last to go and in her usual, formidable style she began right from the start to go for it. They made some of the nicest turns of the day and nearly had the time, but ended just shy of the lead. Engle was pleased.
"I was thrilled with him," commented Engle. "Laura was flawless. I knew she would be hard to beat. Laura rode a beautiful round. Everything was forward, off the turn, and she got what she wanted ... I figured, I'd give it a shot ... I knew she was going to be hard to beat today, and I felt I went as fast as he was ready to go."
In the first round Engle was most concerned about the triple. "I thought he would have a hard time with that triple. It walked tight, and it rode even tighter. I just wanted to go clean with him and give him a confident ride."
The course received much praise from the riders. Said Engle, "It was a really good course. No one got hurt but very few went clean and it was technical enough."
Added Chapot, "Leopoldo is one of the top in the world. He always manages to make it tough."
While there were a number of technical spots on the course with each corner having three-quarter turns from one jump to the next at some point during the course, it was the triple combination that caught most of the field of riders. Nineteen riders had some part of the triple down, with the remaining faults spread around the course.
Palacios knew before the class that the triple would be a problem. It was an oxer followed by two verticals. The last vertical had a plank set on flat cups as the top element of the jump. "That flat cup will catch a lot of the riders," said Palacios. After the class was over, he gave me a high five and said, "I was right!"
Palacios put a lot of turns on the course because of the muddy conditions. "In the turns they collect the horses," he explained. "When they have the horses collected, it is no problem."
Before the class, show manager Steve Stephens talked about the triple combination, noting that the distance between the first and second element was 26' and then 24.6' between the second and third element. "Anytime it's less than 25', it's really, really tight."
In fact, this might have favored Chapot's mount. At 15.1 hands, he was probably the smallest horse in the field. He jumped swiftly and smoothly through the combination without a problem.
Chapot had a good week, also winning Friday's Acorn Hill Farm 1.40m Speed Challenge on Sprite. "They (Little Big Man and Sprite) are both very near and dear to my heart. I could be dirt poor and I wouldn't sell those horses. They are two special horses you don't find every week," she confided.
"It's really exciting to win a class like this," she concluded. "It's always special and especially on that horse. He's always cocky and I love when he gets recognition."
The Masters is a member event of the AGA Series of Show Jumping and was being scored under FEI Article 238.2.2, Time First Jump-Off. Fences were set up to 1.60m (5'3") with spreads up to 1.72m (5'6"). The time allowed of 79 seconds was based on a speed of 350 meters per minute. All horses competing in this class were stabled in the official FEI stable area starting on Wednesday, February 23. While the total prize money for the class was $75,000, the first place winner took home $22,500 of that pie, with the remaining money given out through 12th place. Horses tied for other than first were placed based on their time in the first round.
WEF hosts its major grand prix each Sunday. On Sunday, January 30, 2004 Olympic veteran Beezie Madden won on Conquest II. On February 6, Olympic teammate Chris Kappler and Primeur 58 were the big winners. On February 13, Olympian Laura Kraut rode Anthem to the win. On February 20, yet another Olympian, Anne Kursinski, was in the irons on Roxana 112 for the win. Today's event wrapped up week five of the nine week long festival, the nation's largest and longest running equestrian sporting series.
Wednesday through Sunday, March 2-6, showcases Cosequin Wellington Open week at the Winter Equestrian Festival. Next Sunday, the Cosequin Florida Open, CSI-W is a preliminary competition for the World Cup Final and a member event of the AGA Series of Show Jumping. Thursday features the WEF Challenge Cup at night under the lights, Friday is highlighted by the Acorn Hill 1.40m Challenge II, and Saturday features the 1.50m Classic. Competition on the showgrounds begins at 8 a.m. daily.
Official Results - #100- $75,000 Zada Enterprises, LLC Masters Cup - CSI 3* - FEI 238.2.2 -02-27-05-Internationale Arena
1 - Little Big Man, Laura Chapot - 0-0/34.52
2 - Hidden Creek's Wapino, Margie Engle - 0-0/34.74
3 - Tempete V/H Lindehof, Eric Lamaze - 0-0/36.34
4 - In Style, Ian Millar - 0-4/36.12
5 - Le Mans 8, Markus Beerbaum - 0-4/37.75
6 - Lagretto 5, Kate Levy - 1-79.01
7 - Aguila, Jimmy Torano - 4-73.56
8 - Allegiance, Laura Kraut - 4-74.87
9 - Mivenno, Leslie Howard -4-75.25
10 - Madison, Kent Farrington - 4-76.12
11 - Nadia, Georgina Bloomberg - 4-76.76
12 - Carlos Boy, Ken Berkley - 4-77.16