Laura Chapot & Thornhill Kate Light Up for the Win at the Winter Equestrian Festival

Wellington, Florida – January 19, 2022 – The 2022 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) continued today at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, with WEF 2 week of the 13-week long circuit, which features top jumper, hunter, and equitation competition until April 3. The $6,000 Bainbridge Companies 1.40m Jumper class got the day started in the International Arena where Laura Chapot (USA) ran away with the win aboard Thornhill Kate.

International competition this week takes place at Equestrian Village beginning Thursday, January 20, featuring the $140,000 Hygain Feeds Grand Prix CSI3* and $25,000 Hermès Under 25 Grand Prix on Sunday, January 23.

Top national jumper competition this week will be showcased in the International Arena on the main PBIEC grounds highlighted by the $50,000 Marshall & Sterling National Grand Prix on January 22 at 7 p.m. as part of the continuing “Saturday Night Lights” series.

It was an exciting way to start WEF 2, with 83 entries contesting the first class of the day, the Bainbridge Companies 1.40m “power and speed” format class. Nick Granat (USA) is the course designer for the International Arena this week. Chapot and Thornhill Kate smoked the competition, finishing the speed portion of the course in 24.339 seconds.

However, hot on their heels was another speedy mare in Ericka Houlihan’s Carmen de Bonnieres, piloted by Conor O’Regan (IRL). They finished the speed portion in 24.400 seconds, less than a tenth of a second behind Chapot for second-place. In just a fraction of a second more, Kamille Marcussen (USA), riding M. Michael Meller’s Freedam, sped through the timers in 24.441 seconds for a third-place finish.

They say you can’t beat a good mare, and that was certainly true today for Chapot and Thornhill Kate. Chapot and “Kate,” a 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare by Courage II x Clover Hill, have been partnered together for almost six years and have really developed their relationship.

“I think over the years we’ve formed a good communication between each other and a good compromise. I understand the way she wants to be and kind of let her be her own horse,” she noted.

“Kate,” a horse that Chapot owns with her mother, Mary Chapot, gets the liberty of being an individual not only in the ring, but back in the barn as well.

“For sure she has her own way. Once she gets to know people, she’s actually really kind, but she definitely is a horse that takes a little time to get to trust,” said Chapot.

The duo’s experience together helped inform Chapot how her horse was feeling today, and it was evident that Kate was ready to win.

“[Kate] just came in on fire today,” commented Chapot. “Her stride was enormous, and she was jumping really, really well, so I knew by the time I got to the speed part that the leave-outs were going to be very easy for her.”

Chapot knew exactly what she needed to do to capitalize on her horse’s strengths.

She explained, “[Kate] creates so much speed on her own that the best thing for her is to just keep it smooth and even and not get rushed. She gets very excited, and when she gets too excited then she gets too quick. If you just think about taking her time, she’s actually very quick and very, very careful at the jumps. If you just trust her speed, she oftentimes ends up being quicker than you expect.”

National competition picks back up tomorrow with the $10,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate National Grand Prix Qualifier. Over at Equestrian Village, international competition for the week gets underway with the $6,000 Bainbridge 1.40m CSI3* followed by the $37,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m CSI3*. The Pre-Green 3 & 4 Year Old division will be featured in the hunter arena.

Final Results – $6,000 Bainbridge Companies 

1) Laura Chapot (USA) & Thornhill Kate – 0 / 0 – 24.339

2) Conor O’Regan (IRL) & Carmen de Bonnieres – 0 / 0 – 24.4

3) Kamille Marcussen (USA) & Freedam – 0 / 0 – 24.441

Source: Press Release by Amanda Picciotto Feitosa / Jennifer Wood Media for ESP – Equestrian Sport Productions

Photo: © Sportfot