Laura Chapot and Chandon Blue topped the $50,000 Puissance America Grand Prix CSI2* on Sunday, March 31, to claim the final FEI grand prix victory of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival season, marking the pair’s fourth win within the past five weeks at PBIEC.
Forty-five entries contested the final FEI-sanctioned class of the 12-week circuit, with 11 entries navigating the Guilherme jorge-designed track without fault to advance to the jump-off.
When Chapot entered the ring as the eighth rider to return, the time to beat had been set at 38.05 seconds by Carly Anthony (USA) and Chacco. However, Chapot and Chandon Blue again showcased the speed and accuracy that have become their signature, tripping the timers in a clear 36.30 seconds to take over the top of the leaderboard.
Wilhelm Genn (GER) was the final rider to return, and his time of 37.06 seconds aboard Van Gogh secured him the second-place finish while cementing the win for Chapot and relegating Anthony to the third-place honors.
“I feel so lucky to have this horse,” said Chapot tearfully following her fourth WEF 2019 victory with Chandon Blue, a 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue x Landcapitol) owned by Mary Chapot.
The duo also topped the $50,000 Grand Prix CSI 2*, presented by The Dutta Corp in association with Guido Klatte, during WEF 7, the $36,000 Griffis Residential 1.45m CSI 2* during WEF 9, and the $36,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 10 CSI 3* during week 10.
“To win one class is great, but for him to win as many as he has is unbelievable,” continued Chapot. “He just keeps producing time after time again. I’m just so amazed with his performance. I feel like I’m the luckiest person to have this horse right now. He obviously loves this place, and he goes in there and gives it his all every single time that he goes. What more can you ask than that?”
Chandon Blue is naturally quick across the ground, and Chapot used that to her advantage in Sunday’s jump-off.
“I was fortunate to get to see a few go because [an inside turn] inside the tree ended up being a little bit slower and little bit awkward, and you had to slow up to do it,” explained Chapot. “With my horse, he’s got such good ground speed when he opens up; I decided to just run around, and I think I actually got one less stride going around than [Carly Anthony] did going inside. Her horse has a humungous stride. So, I’m very fortunate; my horse is a quick horse naturally, so that always gives him a little bit of an edge in the jump-off.”
While he was just shy of catching Chapot, Genn was thrilled with the rounds turned in by his mount Van Gogh, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Valentino x Caretano Z) owned by Wilhelm and Patty Genn.
“I could not be more pleased,” said Genn. “He’s always showed a lot of talent, but he was always kind of slow, but he tried really hard. Last fall, I jumped him a little bit smaller to teach him to go faster and have fun, and it really paid off because now mentally I think he’s getting it. Physically, he always had a lot of ability, but I think now mentally he’s in the game.
“When you have so many great riders that go that fast, and you’re on a slower horse, you think, ‘How can I get even close to that time?’” continued Genn. “You hope everything comes up right, and you can leave a stride out here, a stride out there. He has a big stride, and he’s careful. He was fantastic. I couldn’t believe how close I got [to the time]. It shows me too, he’s getting quicker. He’s getting more efficient. He likes going fast. I think now the sky is the limit. I think he’s just going to get better and better now, so it’s super exciting.”