The $37,000 Gold Coast Feed & Nutrition Classic CSI2* kicked off international competition on the final Friday of the 2021 Winter Equestrian Festival. A full line-up of 68 horse-and-rider combinations prepared to contest Olaf Petersen Jr.’s (GER) first-round track which included a total of 15 jumping efforts set at the 1.45m height. The class saw riders and horses ranging in experience levels but only a baker’s dozen of the competitors left all fences standing within the time to earn their spot in the jump-off. Veteran professional Laura Chapot (USA) ended up in the top spot after flying through the timers with Chandon Blue in 33.69 seconds.
Four entries of the original field were knocked out of the jump-off return by a lone time fault while another 16 fell victim to a single downed rail. Young professional Kelli Cruciotti-Vanderveen (USA) was the first to return and set the early pace as she and her own 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare Hadja Van Orshof (Cabrio Van de Heffinck), crossed through the timers fault-free in 37.60 seconds. Cruciotti-Vanderveen ultimately landed the eighth place position.Great Britain’s Jessica Mendoza finished in the final top-three spot with Casanova 499, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Clarimo x Wencke. She and Carly Day’s gelding put in a clean finish with a time of 34.27 seconds. American ridersclaimed the remaining two positions with Katherine Strauss in the runner-up position and Chapot leading the pack. Strauss cruised to the finish line with Katherine Strauss LLC’s 16-year-old KWPN gelding (Aachen x Indoctro) All In after producing a clean effort with an efficient time of 34.22 seconds.
Chapot’s efforts with her established partner, Mary Chapot’s Chandon Blue earned her the victory when the speedy pair flew through the timers at 33.69 seconds. Chapot and Chandon Blue have celebrated many upper-level victories together in the years since they teamed up and continue to prove to be a successful pair in any venue.
“I got [Chandon Blue] late in life as he was already coming 13 years old, but he had a fantastic year in 2019,” said Chapot of the 16-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue x Landcapitol). “I think he won roughly six of these classes that winter.”The pair were not a regular combination in last year’s events as Chapot explained that a minor injury kept her mount out of the game for a majority of the season.
“He ended up having a year off which kind of worked out nicely with the COVID-19 restrictions,” she detailed. “We were able to bring him back up slowly, and he has been jumping better every time, so I’m really thrilled to win this class today.”She described that she did not chase the win against the string of top competitors today but instead just let her mount ride the track his natural way.
“I didn’t want to get caught up trying to chase anyone so I just thought about sticking to my plan and making sure my horse jumped well,” explained Chapot. “He is a very fast horse so if we are consistent it is usually enough to end up towards the top. He has a great heart and tries his hardest for me each time out in the ring.”The headliner for the qualifying event, the $50,000 The Wanderer’s Club Grand Prix CSI2*, will take place Sunday, April 4, as the final international event of this year’s Winter Equestrian Festival.