Saugerties, New York, USA – June 09, 2023 – The last week of the spring series of the Hits-on-the-Hudson at Hits Saugerties began last Wednesday, and Laura Chapot (USA) returned to the world-class venue in winning form with a wire-to-wire victory aboard Chandon Blue. The duo dominated the $25,000 Hits Grand Prix on Friday, setting an unbeatable pace during the seven-horse jump-off. Steven Bluman (COL) produced the only other double clear effort for second place with Pinot Gris di Fer, while Christian Coyle (IRL) and Ma Pomme de Tamerville took home third as the fastest 4-faulter.
“Chandon Blue is a winner at heart,” smiled Chapot after her win. “He’s 18 years old now and he still acts like he’s about 6 years old. He enjoys his job, and he has the sweetest personality in the barn – he really loves attention. He walks and plays in the schooling area every time. It’s just a pleasure for him to go in the ring, and you can’t beat having a horse with that kind of personality.”
Course designer Oscar Soberon posed many questions to the riders in the first round of the $25,000 Grand Prix, including three double combinations carefully placed throughout the expansive Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Stadium. Seven were able to clear the course and advance to the jump-off. The tiebreaking track included a tight rollback to a vertical-oxer double combination before another sharp turn to a wide oxer. Riders could then make up some valuable time as they galloped to the final bending line that ended heading towards the gate.
Chapot was the first to return for the tiebreaker with Chandon Blue and the duo were on the pace from the start. They found every fence out of the stride, never touching a rail while also making quick turns to clock in at 40.87 seconds with all the rails intact.
Christian Coyle (IRL) was next with Ma Pomme de Tamerville, and they made every effort to try and catch Chapot’s quick time, but a rail at the penultimate fence incurred 4 faults in a time of 42.130 seconds, which would hold up for third place.
When Steven Bluman (COL) returned with Pinot Gris di Fer, he knew that Chapot’s time was quick and opted for a more conservative pace in an effort to leave all the fences in place. Their plan paid off as rails continued to fall for the remaining riders, taking the second-place prize with a time of 47.330 seconds, while Chapot returned to lead the lap of honor.
“Chandon Blue is naturally very fast and he has a very big stride,” explained Chapot. “During the jump offs, it opens up really easily, so I just get a good pace to the first one and then after that I could leave out strides just maintain the pace without pressing him. He is so fast on his own that I don’t really have to run any faster than he already goes.”
Based at her family’s Chado Farm in Neshanic Station, NJ, Chapot has been competing at HITS Saugerties her entire life and was very pleased with the improvements for the 2023 show season. “It’s amazing,” she concluded. “It poured last night, it poured during the class, it poured this morning, and there’s not a puddle on the ground. If anything, the footing just gets better. With the new footing and all the improvements, there’s no reason not to come. It’s amazing and they should be really praised for putting so much time and effort into it. It makes it a whole different ball game up here.”
This marks the final week of the HITS-on-the-Hudson Spring Series, but jumper action will continue throughout the Summer as part of the eight-week HITS Saugerties Series, which runs through September at the world-class facility. HITS-on-the-Hudson will feature a $100,000 Grand Prix each week, in addition to the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix each Friday. Classics in the Junior/Amateur Jumpers close out each week, in addition to the High, Low and Modified Children’s and Adult Jumper Classics, which are qualifiers for the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League Finals.
Final Results –$25,000 Hits Grand Prix
1) Laura Chapot (USA) & Chandon Blue – 0 / 0 – 40.87
2) Christian Coyle (IRL) & Ma Pomme de Tamerville – 0 / 0 – 42.130
3) Steven Bluman (ISR) & Pinot Gris di Fer – 0 / 0 – 47.330
Source: Press Release from Hits Horse Shows
Photos: © ESI Photography