Tuesday, June 15, 2010

L’Amazing Week for Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze

Four wins in a row is an incredible feat, and Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze accomplished exactly that in the International Ring during the CSI5* Spruce Meadows “National” Tournament held June 9-13 in Calgary, AB.

Having enjoyed victories on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, Lamaze scored the biggest win of the week when he claimed Saturday’s $200,000 CN Reliability Grand Prix with his Olympic mount, Hickstead. The pair were the last of five jump-off challengers, and posted a clear round in a time of 53.78 seconds to edge out Mexico’s Federico Fernandez and Zorro, who had clocked in at 55.49 seconds. Lamaze’s share of the prize money, $66,000, was a welcome addition to the healthy account of more than $2.3 million that he has already amassed in career winnings at Spruce Meadows.

“It was a pretty amazing week, not something that happens every day,” said Lamaze, 42, of Schomberg, ON. “I don’t think many people have ever had a week like this. It was just one of those weeks!”

Lamaze meant business when he arrived at Spruce Meadows with 34 horses, including his own top mounts that had flown over from Europe, as well as those of his students.

“My horses came from Europe to here, ready to compete,” said Lamaze, reflecting on his success. “They are very good horses that have been competing at great horse shows in Europe, and they were very ready to compete in Calgary. I think that showing in Europe makes a big difference.”

Before winning Saturday’s $200,000 CN Reliability Grand Prix, an event Lamaze and Hickstead also won in 2008, Hickstead placed second in Thursday’s $35,000 Spectra Energy Cup. It was the only other event the 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion, owned by Ashland Stables and Lamaze’s own Torrey Pines Stables, contested during the Spruce Meadows “National” Tournament.

On Wednesday, opening day of competition, Lamaze guided Take Off to victory in the $30,000 Enbridge Cup over 56 other entries, despite less than ideal weather conditions. He also placed ninth with Atlete van t Heike, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare.

On Thursday, Lamaze topped the leader board once again with Take Off, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, claiming the $30,000 Prairie Mines & Royalty Cup. In addition to winning with Take Off, Lamaze also placed third after posting double clear rounds with Atlete van t Heike.

Also on Thursday, Lamaze won the $15,000 Bantrel Cup with Coriana van Klapscheut, an eight-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare. On Friday, they proved to be the best of the best in the International Ring, leading the victory gallop over 51 entries in the $40,000 Atco Midstream Cup.

Take Off, Atlete van t Heike, and Coriana van Klapscheut are all owned by the Ziegler family’s Artisan Farms, LLC. Caitlin Ziegler, 15, who trains with the Olympic Champion, enjoyed her own success during the “National” Tournament, winning Friday’s 1.35m Junior/Amateur competition riding Mayhem.

Lamaze will continue to compete at Spruce Meadows throughout the summer tournaments. Next up is the CSI4*-W “Continental” Tournament from June 16 to 20, bringing with it the second of four events comprising the CN Precision Series.

“Hickstead feels very good,” noted Lamaze, who is aiming his Olympic partner for the upcoming 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, this fall. “We are looking forward to the next leg in the CN Series, and maybe we’ll get the bonus!”

Having already won the $200,000 CN Reliability Grand Prix, Lamaze is in line for a $50,000 bonus should he also win the $100,000 CN Performance Grand Prix on Sunday, June 20.