WELLINGTON, Fla--Laura Chapot, who seems to be the perennial Winter Equestrian Festival Jumper Rider Circuit Champion, did it again this year, and did it by a huge margin, finishing with 1,263 to second placed Erynn Ballard of Canada's 798 points.
Chapot of Neshanic Station, .J., also has, over the years, often placed two or more horses at the top of individual jumpers sections, but this year she finished an incredible first, second, third and fourth in the 1.40m Jumpers with Gideon finishing ninth, meaning she had five horses in the top 10 in a section that had 278 horses winning money in it throughout the shortened 10 weeks of WEF.
Not only did she ride the top four, all four were far ahead of the nearest competitor.
Calafornia was 1.40m Circuit Champion with $13,010,, with Out of Ireland second with $9,600, Thornhill Kate third with $7,430 and Shooting Star fourth with $7,210, while the fifth place horses was almost $2,000 less with $5,575.
"We had a nice group of horses for that division" said Chapot. "We had a couple of up-and-comers and a couple of old standybys. they all went well
Chapot also rode Calmanda 3 to be Seven-Year-Old Developing Jumper Circuit Champion and Umberto to finish second in 1.35m.
"WE GOT HER after WEF last year from Cian O'Connor," said Chapot. "She won at the Princeton shows before we took her to Florida."
In the Leading Jumper Trainers championship, Mary Chapot, with 1,355 points, finished second to Henri Prudent of Middleburg, Va., who accumulated 1,675 points.
The Chapots would have also been Open Jumper Leading Owners, but some horses were listed as owned by Mary Chapot and some were listed as owned by Mary and Laura Chapot, so their points were counted separately.
Gochman Sport Horses LLC of New York, N.Y., were circuit champion with 920 points, while Mary Chapot finished fourth with 615 points and Mary and Laura Chapot were 10th with 404 points, meaning they would have had 1019 points if counted together.
"It wasn't worth arguing about," said Mary. "We don't show to win points in any division. That's not the goal. What we want is to have the horses go well and progress in their schooling."
"We were pleased with all the horses," said Mary. "To have five in the top 10 in the 1.40m, you've got to say they were all consistent."
"We get a stable package by paying for all 12 weeks of WEF, so we stayed in Florida for the last two weeks even though they were canceled," said Mary. "The management did a really nice thing for those last two weeks.
"They put up a real course in the International Arena, and you could take a horse in and school, and if you goofed you could do it again. They had the open water in the ring, so if you stopped at it four or five times, you could still school over it without being eliminated.
"If a horse was nervous going into the International Arena, you could school in there and get them to relax. We took all the horses in. they had hand sanitizers there and only allowed two horses at a time and limited the number of people you could take with you.
"It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to get horses into the International Arena. It just cost management to pay the jump crew, and they let the ring crew practice setting up courses for those of them that wanted to get their course designer license," said Mary.
Horse show owners and trainers have been hit hard by all shows being canceled due to the corona virus, and the Chapots are among them
"We've applied for the small business loan that becomes a grant if you keep your employees, but we haven't heard yet," said Mary. "Our employees need to be paid, and the horses keep eating. Laura can't teach any lessons. We have a couple of boarders, but a lot take their horses home when we go to Florida, and they can't come back yet. We occasionally sell a horse or two, but that's not our business. We live off the prize money we win and Laura's training fees."
"My horses usually get a bit of time off after WEF, so not showing now is not so bad," said Laura. "But it was a bit of an abrupt end. What we'll do now depends on what the world does. I hope things open up in time for Saugerties, which usually starts the week before Memorial Day weekend/
Barbara Rochford, who trains with Laura, finished 17th of 77 in Adult Jumper on Butterfly Ambition.
"Barbara divided her time between skiing in Utah and showing her dogs in Agility contests and showing in jumpers," said Mary. "The few times she showed she did well, winning a couple of classes and being champion one week.She was going to show the last two weeks."
"Laura's other students also only showed a few times," said Mary. "They were all going to show the last two weeks. Everyone likes the last two weeks with all the big grand prix to watch."
Other successful Delaware Valley exhibitors inlcuded Clementina Brown, who, with only showing about four times, finished fifth in Amateur Owner Hunters, 3'3", with the new horse Wanderer.
Ken Berkley of Flemington, N.J., was Leading Hunter Trainer by a huge margin, with 4,178 points to second placed David Belford with 2,471 points.
Berkley's partner Scott Stewart was second in Leading Hunter Rider with 2,506 points to Victoria Colvins winning 2,711 points.
Stewart rode Everwonder to the Circuit Championship in Green Hunter, 3'9".
Kelly Farmer of Keswick, Va., rode Undaunted to the Circuit Championship in Green Conformation, while Sandra Ferrell of Bernville, Pa., rode Moonshot to the Championship in High Performance Hunters.
Jessica Springsteem of Colts Neck, N.J., won the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider award, which is given to the lady that wins the most points in the WEF challenge and grand prix.