Friday, January 29, 2010

Eric Lamaze Opens 2010 Season with a Win

Wellington, Florida – Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, claimed his first victory of the 2010 season by winning the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round III on Thursday, January 28, at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL.

A total of 54 horses were entered in the competition, including three ridden by Lamaze. The Olympic Champion increased his chances for victory by delivering three clear rounds over the course designed by Germany’s Olaf Petersen Jr. to advance to the jump-off.

Competition in the jump-off proved to be tough as a total of 18 horses advanced from the first round. Lamaze took the early lead with a clear round in a time of 38.16 seconds riding Ronaldo, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Ashland Stables. His lead would hold for the next seven horses until young American rider, Brianne Goutal of New York, NY, jumped clear in a faster time of 37.91 seconds with Ballade van het Indihof.

Lamaze, however, was next in the ring and reclaimed his place at the top of the leader board by delivering a clear round in an incredible time of 36.49 seconds with Ultra Boy. Although several came close, none who followed could catch Lamaze, and the Olympic Individual Gold and Team Silver Medalist had the final say with the final entry of the day. His young mount, Coriana van Klapscheut, an eight-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Artisan Farms LLC, had a rail at the third fence on the shortened jump-off course, but victory already belonged to Lamaze. For the win with Ultra Boy, Lamaze collected $9,000 in prize money for the horse’s owner, Ashland Stables.

“I’ve been taking my time with him,” said Lamaze whose owners, the Fleischhacker family of Ashland Stables, purchased the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion in December of 2008. “I was really looking forward to stepping him up here in Florida, and this is a great start. I am looking forward to a great season here with him.”

Of his jump-off strategy, Lamaze said, “I don’t know him that well in a jump-off. I have never gone this fast with him, ever. I was very happy with how he handled the speed, and he kept the height of his jump. That is what a great horse needs to learn how to do.”

Lamaze will continue to compete throughout the 12-week FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, which runs through April 4. His Olympic mount, Hickstead, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood breeding stallion owned by Ashland Stables and Lamaze’s own Torrey Pines Stable, was recently released from quarantine after traveling from Europe, and will begin competing later in the circuit.