The seventh week of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) drew to a close on Sunday, February 24, with victories for McLain Ward (USA) and Laura Chapot (USA) in the International Arena. Ward rode Tradition de la Roque, owned by Kessler Show Stables Europe BV, to win the $72,000 CaptiveOne Advisors 1.50m Classic CSI 5*, while Chapot and Chandon Blue won the $50,000 Grand Prix CSI 2* presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte.

WEF continues with CSIO4* week 8 presented by Lugano Diamonds, on February 27-March 3, with highlights that include the $150,000 Nations Cup CSIO4* on Saturday, March 2, and the $209,000 Grand Prix CSIO4* presented by Lugano Diamonds on Sunday, March 3.

In a field of 45 competitors, Laura Chapot (USA) and Mary Chapot’s Chandon Blue sped to the win in the $50,000 Grand Prix CSI 2*, presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte. Chapot and Chandon Blue were one of eight clear in the first round and fourth to return in the jump-off over a course designed by Andy Christiansen Jr.

First to return in the jump-off were Bretton Chad (CAN) and The Pugilist, who put down a deceptively fast clear round in 38.72 seconds that would hold up for second place. After a fall and a scratch from the next two competitors, Peter Wylde (USA) and Canamera 2, owned by Kathleen Kamine, entered the ring and finished in 39.99 seconds for fifth place.

“Basically my plan was to leave it all on the table,” said Chad of her jump-off ride. “There were only eight in the jump-off, and one wasn’t going to go. I’m not the most experienced jump-off rider, so I thought I should just give it what I had.”

Chad has been riding The Pugilist, a 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by ARD VDL Douglas x Freddie’s Star, for five years. “He’s been unbelievable for me, taken me all the way up,” she expressed. “He’s pretty unique. If you just saw him in the stall, I don’t think you would really think he’s a jumping horse. He’s more like a Quarter Horse! He’s a bit bouncy, but once you get him going, his stride gets massive. He can pretty much do it all; he can add, he can leave out. He’s a wonder horse.

“I’m really appreciative to him and my whole team at Torrey Pines,” she continued. “Everyone was here behind me, cheering me on, so that was really cool.”

Chapot and Chandon Blue went next and through a combination of speed and tight turns, they brought the leading time down to 37.85 seconds for the win.

“Fortunately I wasn’t in the beginning of the jump-off this time, which was a nice opportunity because I got to see a few go,” Chapot described. “I saw Bretton go and then I saw Peter go and leave out the strides and still be slower than her. That kind of made all the decisions for me. There was no playing it safe, especially with the few behind me who are very fast riders with fast horses. I just tried to do as few strides between the first couple jumps and make the turn, and then keep the rhythm through the end of the course. He’s a very fast horse naturally, so you hope that it would hold up and I was fortunate that it did.”

Three more combinations would chase Chapot’s time, including Hardin Towell on Oakland Ventures LLC’s Billy Cool (39.63 seconds for fourth place), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) on La Caramba, owned by Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC (39.12 seconds for third place), and Hunter Holloway (USA) riding Hays Investment Corp.‘s VDL Bravo S, who had eight faults in 40.02 seconds. None of them could catch her time.

Michaels-Beerbaum was thrilled with La Caramba, a nine-year-old Holsteiner mare by Carambole x Caretino 2 that her husband Markus found in Germany and was purchased in May 2018.

“When I tried her, I fell in love with her,” said Michaels-Beerbaum. “She’s very, very fast and extremely careful. When I go to the fence, if I go anywhere near it, she’s going to give everything to clear the jump. That helps a lot to go fast. She’s very big, but still narrow and very thoroughbred-y. I feel so comfortable on her.

“I must say, I brought her along nicely over the last three-quarters of the year, but this was a big step up for her,” said Michaels-Beerbaum of the mare that was showing in her first two-star grand prix. “I was just so pleased with her because I think the horse has tremendous talent and a wonderful mind. I’m delighted to have her and this was a shining star for us today. I think she’s going to be a great one.”

For Chapot, a change in Chandon Blue’s bit at the beginning of the year – she went from a pelham to a “western bit” long shank snaffle – made the difference for her ride and the horse’s adjustability. “It’s made him a lot easier to either fit in the strides or leave it out,” she explained. “He just seems to respond to it a lot easier. I can leave out [strides] and still make the turn after the jump.”

It was an exciting win for Chapot and Chandon Blue, who have picked up two seconds and a third in FEI ranking classes so far at the 2019 WEF.

“I’m just so pleased for the horse to have won the class,” she said of the 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Chacco Blue x Landcapitol. “He really deserves it. He’s been jumping brilliantly the whole circuit and especially the last two weeks, he’s been over the top. He just has so much spirit and enthusiasm for this sport that it’s really nice for him to have a win. Everyone and the team puts in so much effort, and it’s a lot of work down here. It’s a nice reward for everyone.”

Final Results: $50,000 Grand Prix CSI 2* presented by The Dutta Corp. in association with Guido Klatte

1. CHANDON BLUE: 2005 Oldenburg gelding by Chacco Blue x Landcapitol

LAURA CHAPOT (USA), Mary Chapot: 0/0/37.85

2. THE PUGILIST: 2004 Irish Sport Horse gelding by ARD VDL Douglas x Freddie’s Star

BRETTON CHAD (CAN), Stone Ridge Farms LLC: 0/0/38.72

3. LA CARAMBA: 2010 Holsteiner mare by Carambole x Caretino 2

MEREDITH MICHAELS-BEERBAUM (GER), Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC: 0/0/39.12

4. BILLY COOL: 2007 AES mare by Billy Congo x Kannan

HARDIN TOWELL (USA), Oakland Ventures LLC: 0/0/39.63

5. CANAMERA 2: 2009 Holsteiner mare by Clarimo x Carthago

PETER WYLDE (USA), Kathleen Kamine: 0/0/39.99

6. VDL BRAVO S: 2006 KWPN gelding by Ephepe For Ever x Chellano Z

HUNTER HOLLOWAY (USA), Hays Investment Corp.: 0/8/40.02

7. LOU 66: 2007 German Sport Horse mare by Landprinz x Grozzo Z

JENNA THOMPSON (CAN), Attache Stables: 0/elim

7. HITCHCOCK VD BROEKKANT: 2007 BWP gelding by Canturo x Heartbreaker

ALISE OKEN (USA), Hi Hopes Farm LLC: 0/WD

9. CADANS Z: 2009 Zangersheide mare by Carosso VDL x Navarone

ADRIENNE STERNLICHT (USA), Starlight Farms LLC: 1/76.29

10. UKULMAN DE LA NUTRIA: 2008 Selle Français gelding by Quick Star

CELSO ARIANI (BRA), Ricardo Romero Garcia: 1/76.32