Laura Chapot and Chandon Blue Claim Victory in $75,000 SummitMax Grand Prix

The penultimate day of competition during the third week of HITS-on-the-Hudson brought a buzz of activity to the venue as the week’s feature event got underway. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Hudson Valley, the series is a favorite in the area and offers top-level hunter, jumper, and equitation competition for any and all ages. Saturday’s competition produced extra excitement as 20 athletes prepared to contest the track for the $75,000 SummitMax Grand Prix in the Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Stadium. At the class’s completion, as has been the case many times before, the win ultimately belonged to Laura Chapot (USA) and her longtime partner, Chandon Blue. 

Mark McGowan (GBR) set the intricate first-round course, but with the challenge set high, only five entries managed to produce a fault-free effort to advance to McGowan’s jump-off track. In a stacked lineup, Chapot and Mary Chapot’s 19-year-old Oldenburg gelding  (Chacco-Blue x Landcapitol) were the most seasoned pair by far, and they used their years of wisdom and experience together to procure yet another win. 

“Actually, the jump-off was probably not his best type of jump-off because it had a lot of turns,” explained Chapot. “He was really there for me today and he was looking and turning really well. That’s really nice when something is maybe not set perfectly for you and you end up doing it as well as you can.”

Laura Chapot stands for presentation. Photo by ESI Photography

Their best was enough as they clocked in fractions of a second ahead of the second-place finisher with a time of 40.64 seconds. 

“He very much tells you what he wants to do, and today he was just jumping incredibly,” added Chapot. “All week he has felt like he was really into it and like he is excited to be here.”

With Chandon Blue being the seasoned competitor he is, Chapot detailed that her biggest hurdle comes in keeping the gelding from getting too enthusiastic and incurring unnecessary rails, as had happened earlier in the week. 

“I thought it was fortunate actually that I got to go first in the jump-off today, because I just had to focus on riding the correct ride and not overdoing it by trying to chase somebody,” she said. “I honestly thought I left a few gaps where I could have been caught, but he has such a big stride and covers the ground so quickly that even when we are not trying, he can be naturally quite a bit faster.” 

Just slightly off the pair’s blazing pace, Philip McGuane (IRL) guided Paso Doble SCF, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Diktator van de Boslandhoeve x Cassini I) owned by the Evergate Stables LLC, into the runner-up position with a time of 40.93 seconds. As the only other double-clear combination in the class, Katie Eppinger (USA) and her own 13-year-old Oldenburg mare (Chacco-Blue x Charity), Chacco’s Cherry PS, rounded out the top three with a clean effort in 44.88 seconds. 

Jumper riders put their speed horses to the test in the $15,000 STX Open Speed Series on Friday, June 7, in an effort to pick up crucial points to get on the series leaderboard. Diego Perez Bilbao (ESP) and the Over Fences Farm LLC’s 11-year-old Holsteiner mare (Diarado x Quidam’s Rubin), Dialuna, took the class win as they posted a time of 61.93 seconds and closed the door on the remaining competitors.