Buddy system a winner

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:34 AM ET

There's one big guy in particular who would rather Ottawa had to wait just a few more days for its first real blast of heat this summer.

His name is VDL Nuit de Pomme -- or Buddy, to his friends around the barn.

"He doesn't handle heat that well, I'm a little concerned," Frankie Chesler admitted yesterday. "We'll wet him a lot, try to help him sweat better. We're going to be monitoring him."

Chesler will be feeling some heat herself Sunday at the Nepean National Equestrian Park, as she and Buddy are defending the $60,000 Kubota Cup Big Ben Memorial Grand Prix crown they won at the Capital Classic last year.

"There's a little pressure," admitted the 25-year-old Orangeville rider. "Everybody's asking 'Are you going to win again?'

"I'd love to. I have three mounts this year and they're all jumping really well."

Also coming out of the family-owned Sher-Al Farms stables will be Ranville and Picolien Zeldenrust.

Chesler rode those respective eight- and nine-year-olds last week in Blainville, Que., electing to give Buddy a rest.

"Hopefully, he'll be fresh and ready to go," said Chesler

Yesterday, American Chris Kappler won the Open Jumper 1.40m competition on Copado, completing the Conrad Homfeld-designed course in 33.64 seconds.

Eric Lamaze of Schomberg finished second at 33.80.

Competition heats up today at 6 p.m. with the $20,000 Capital Classic Open Welcome Stake, which follows the Canadian Young Horse Junior Development Series.

The $35,000 Brookstreet Jumping Derby highlights tomorrow's schedule.

The Open Welcome Stake features the challengers who will attempt to wrestle the Kubota Cup away from Chesler and Buddy.

"I would say, really, there's a top field of horses and riders that are going to be difficult to beat," she said.

Chesler, who began riding at age four, has developed into one of Canada's top riders. Now, she's anxious to gage the progress of Ranville and Picolien Zeldenrust.

"We had a really good winter in Palm Beach," said Chesler, whose husband Juan Ortiz is also riding at the Capital Classic. "My horses progressed to where we want them to be. The timing has been beyond what we expected."

"BEST FOOT FORWARD"

After a couple of days, so has her visit to the 2006 Capital Classic. Organizational problems from last year -- like stalls being too tight and classes not running on time -- are not evident this time around.

"I feel they're putting their best foot forward to make it work," said Chesler. "I'm here because I love this show. So far it's been fantastic."

Tickets are available on site and cost $10. Children 12 and under are admitted free.


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