Chapot at home in Lake Placid
LAKE PLACID — Like any other rider, Laura Chapot is quite happy when she wins a show jumping competition. But the veteran equestrian is especially happy when she triumphs in Lake Placid, which has happened often, and she did it again on Saturday at the I Love New York Horse Show.
Riding her horse Thornhill Kate, Chapot topped a field of seven in the jump-off round to take top honors in the $100,000 Great American Insurance Grand Prix in the Richard M. Feldman Ring.
The event started with a field of 36 in the opening round, and then moved into a jump-off after seven horses and riders advanced with clear rounds. Chapot and her mount then turned in another fault-free ride in 38.996 seconds to claim the top prize of $30,000.
“I think I get the most nervous for the grand prixs up here because really, of all the classes, all year long, the Lake Placid grand prixs are the ones I want to win the most,” Chapot said. “I love the venue. Our family has been here every single year the horse show has existed. I’ve been here every year of my life.”
What made Chapot’s win ever sweeter was that she topped a who’s-who field of competitors that featured seasoned Olympians, including gold-medalist McClain Ward, who didn’t compete a week ago but came for the final days of this year’s equestrian stop in Lake Placid. Ward entered three horses in Saturday’s grand prix and turned in sixth-, 10th- and 11th-place results.
“It means a lot to win up here, and today especially,” Chapot said. “We had a very strong field of horses and riders. It’s a good feeling to win against all those players. He’s (Ward) beaten me all week long. I don’t resent that. I actually like that because it steps up your game. I think it makes you concentrate even harder and work harder for the win. It’s nice to have him here — makes you work a little more and it means a little bit more.”
Amber Harte rode Cafino to a runner-up finish, and she was the first rider in the jump-off. The pair turned in a clear round and stood in first place with a time of 39.725 seconds until Chapot and Thornhill Kate beat that mark by less than a second as the fourth team to go.
“She always doesn’t have the biggest stride,” Chapot said of Thornhill Kate, a horse she has been riding for about three years. “She’s very careful, she’s a real trier, she tries every single time she jumps a jump, and she’s naturally quick, which always helps in the jump-off, so you don’t have to press, press, press every single stride and rely a little bit on her natural speed to help you.”
Three years ago, Chloe Field competed in her first grand prix in Lake Placid and was thrown from her horse. On Saturday, Field fared much better, finishing with two clear rounds to claim third place. Riding Tess De Jalesnes, Field completed the jump-off in 46.978 seconds, which was well off the pace of the top two riders but a thrilling result none-the-less.
“I would say this is definitely the best finish I’ve ever had in my career,” said Field, who will be starting law school at Harvard this fall. “This was fun. I got this horse last year and doing well here was a goal of mine. I really wanted to come to Lake Placid and do well in a grand prix. Nothing would make me happier.”
Field was beaming a wide smile after Saturday’s event while receiving congratulations from the Lake Placid Horse Show chairman, who is also her godfather. Field said her goal was coming to Lake Placid and putting down two clean rounds, and her third place Saturday was the icing on the cake after placing 25th a week ago in grand prix action in Lake Placid.
“This grand prix means a lot to me. My dad used to show here, my godfather shows here, I’ve been watching this class for 15 years,” Field said. “A couple years ago, I had a less than stellar experience here. I made a mistake at the fourth fence, my horse tried to help me out and the end result was that we parted company. I wanted to come here and complete the grand prix, and we did that last week. This week to come in and jump two clear rounds, that was the goal, and so I couldn’t be more excited.”
Although a career-best finish may have given Field more inspiration and confidence that she can compete against the world’s top riders, the 25-year-old realizes that law school comes first.
“This is a passion, but I’d also like to be gainfully employed,” Field said. “I’m going to be riding less for sure. I’ll compete less often, but I am going to continue to try doing this as much as I can because that horse is so special. It makes it very hard to figure out how I’m going to step away.
“It’s been a really cool summer,” Field continued. “We went to Calgary and I’ve never gotten to do that show, and I’m going to take her to Europe in a couple week to compete. I’m going to Switzerland and in France. This has been the summer of bucket-list horse shows.”