Laura Chapot and Chandon Blue Race to the Front in $62,500 Ethel M Chocolates CSI2* Grand Prix

February 25. 2024

Competition during the Lugano Diamonds-sponsored Week 7 of the 2024 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) culminated in the $62,500 Ethel M Chocolates CSI2* Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon with a win from Laura Chapot (USA). WEF plays host to 13-weeks of international and nationally ranked top sport across the hunter, jumper, and equitation disciplines in the equestrian capital of Wellington, FL, ending on March 31. 

Chapot and her longtime partner, the Laura and Mary Chapot-owned 19-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Chandon Blue (Chacco-Blue x Landcapitol) were one of 11 that managed to produce a first round worthy of advancing to the jump-off out of the original 44 combinations.

Laura Chapot & Chandon Blue, winners of the $62,500 Ethel M Chocolates CSI2* Grand Prix. Photo © Sportfot

As the class crept closer and closer to its finish, Anthony D’Ambrosio’s (USA) short course proved difficult to master. As the penultimate combination to return, Chapot and Chandon gave it their best effort, but as so many others had done, took down one obstacle towards the end of the course. The results were decided among four-fault rounds with no double-clears on the day.

“I was a little bit surprised that there weren't any clears when I went in,” Chapot explained. “But I knew I shouldn't really change the plan because I could start to get too careful, and then I did get a little too careful at the end and he did have the rail down.”

With no clears ahead of her and knowing her partner’s fancy footwork, she knew her best bet was to set the pace and let luck do the rest. 

“He's got a naturally fast pace, so I wanted to try and keep it smooth and moving everywhere and hoped all the rails stayed up,” she continued. “Obviously it was very unexpected to have a bunch of horses go in there and end up on four faults, so you have that in the back of your mind that you could have a rail too. You might as well keep going and then even if you have one down, you'll end up in the top of the mix.”

Chapot has been partnered with the gelding for many years and taken many victories in Wellington International’s main arena, and the pair have found their sweet spot at the two-star level. 

“I think this is a nice level for him at his age,” Chapot continued. “It’s still a challenge; these classes are not easy, they tend to be extremely fast and tricky enough, but it's just a nice spot for him. He’ll tell us when he doesn't want to do it anymore, but right now he's all about it.”

Laura Chapot & Chandon Blue are presented as winners of the $62,500 Ethel M Chocolates CSI2* Grand Prix by Pamela Mars. Photo © Sportfot

Luis Pedro Biraben (ARG) slated only four faults on the board but his time of 36.06 seconds with his own 14-year-old Oldenburg mare, Chacco Bumpy (Chacco-Blue x Toulon) ran second to Chapot’s time of 35.64 seconds. Grant Seger book-ended the podium with another ribbon for the U.S. after piloting his own 12-year-old Oldenburg mare, Frieda (Balou du Rouet x Canturo) into third. 

H5 Chacco-San Steals the Show in $62,500 Hermés CSI5* 1.50m Classic

Five-star show jumping came to a close in the International Arena with 55 pairings geared up to race against the clock in the $62,500 Hermés CSI5* 1.50m Classic. Once again, 11 duos did their all to advance on to the jump-off, but none proved to match the time of Carlos Hank Guerriero (MEX) and H5 Chacco-San. The jump-off featured a lineup of heavy hitters including Olympic Champion Ben Maher (GBR), Saturday Nights grand prix victor Richard Vogel (GER) and Canada’s Erynn Ballard (CAN) to name a few. However, Guerriero’s blazing-fast time of 34.22 seconds left him leading the way in the victory gallop. 

Carlos Hank Guerriero & H5 Chacco-San, winners of the $62,500 Hermés CSI5* 1.50m Classic. Photo © Sportfot

“Honestly he tried so hard for me out there,” Guerriero gushed. “I have a very, very quick horse and I know normally if I do the same strides as most horses, he's almost always quicker than them. I knew if I tried to do something similar to Ben’s round, I could be faster.” 

Guerriero has been partnered with H5 Sport Horses LLC’s 13-year-old Hannoverian gelding (Chacco-Blue x Sandro Boy) for close to five years and the two have risen together to be incredibly competitive at the five-star level. 

“He's such a competitive horse at this level that we are trying to pick and choose what competitions we put him in,” he explained. “If you point him at the jump, he will do his best to clear it. His mentality is amazing; he's so careful but he's almost more brave than careful sometimes. He's a great partner for these classes.” 

The ever-impressive Maher and his, Charlotte Rossetter and Pamela Wright’s 14-year-old KWPN stallion, Faltic HB (Baltic VDL x Concorde) trailed just off Guerriero’s time after stopping the clock in 34.74 seconds. Egypt’s Nayel Nassar made it a truly international podium by posting the third-fastest time with Evergate Stables LLC’s nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, ESI Ali (Stakkato Gold). 

Carlos Hank Guerriero & H5 Chacco-San are presented as winners of the $62,500 Hermés CSI5* 1.50m Classic by Leah Rogers Meierfeld, Client Development Manager, Equestrian for Hermès. Photo © Sportfot

The 2024 Hermès 1.50m Championship Jumper Series will take place weekly throughout WEF, culminating during Week 11’s Saturday Night Lights with $150,000 in prize money. Riders who consistently compete in the series will accumulate points towards the series’ title, a $10,000 Hermès store credit and a bespoke Hermès horse rug.

Lacey Powers, Emi Richard, and Kenzie Smith Rein Victorious in Pony Hunter Divisions

Sunday of Week 7 at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) was all about pint-sized entries on Pony Island. Large, Medium, and Small Pony Hunter Divisions wrapped up their weeks with tri-color presentations. Each division concluded for the weekend after riders competed across a regular, handy and classic round over-fence, as well as an under saddle to gain points needed to claim the tricolor ribbons. 

The Large Pony Hunter championship and reserve titles went to Lacey Powers of Loxahatchee, FL. Powers topped the division with her mount Gentle Touch, owned by Rivers Edge. The 12-year-old hunter star then followed her own lead, claiming reserve with fellow Rivers Edge mount, Won Wish.

Lacey Powers & Gentle Touch. Photo © Sportfot

Powers celebrated her birthday weekend in the arena, earning her first-ever score in the 90s atop Won Wish. “I love showing at WEF and all the opportunities to go in the ring,” said Powers. “The jumps always look nice, and I think the ponies really enjoy it.” 

Powers earned five winning ribbons across the division with Gentle Touch, including the Large Pony Hunter Classic and under saddle. 

In the Medium Pony Hunters, sponsored by Carol Sollak, Engel & Völkers. with Emi Richard of Middlefield, CT, claiming both champion and reserve for the division. Richard’s top honor mount was Qualen’s Charismagic, owned by Carolex Stables, LLC. The pair won two over-fences classes and an under saddle, as well as being second in the classic. 

Emi Richard & Qualen’s Charismagic. Photo © Sportfot

Richard took reserve with Woodlands Corduroy, owned by Fancy Pants Equestrian, LLC, placing top three in each over-fences. 

Pony action rounded out with the smallest but mightiest of them all, the Small Pony Hunters. Kenzie Smith of Shoreham, NY, and Buttons and Blues, owned by First Blue LLC, took home champion after placing no lower than second across the division, winning two over-fences and an under saddle.

Kenzie Smith & Buttons and Blues. Photo © Sportfot

Reserve champion went to Cisy Zhou of New York, NY, and their own, Fortnite, taking home a blue ribbon in the over-fences and a second place in the under saddle. 

Action across all rings and disciplines at WEF will resume Wednesday, February 28, for Week 8 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), sponsored by Florida Coast Equipment and highlighted by CSIO Nations Cup competition in the International Arena. For the week’s full schedule, please click HERE.