Category Archives: Jennifer Ward

Eric Lamaze Opens Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament with a Win

Eric Lamaze and Chacco Kid, Photo by Starting Gate Communications.

Calgary, Alberta – Canadian Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze opened the five-day Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ show jumping tournament in Calgary, AB with a win in the $70,200 1.60m Akita Drilling Cup on Wednesday, September 5.

Lamaze closed out the four-week Spruce Meadows ‘Summer Series’ with a win, claiming the $500,000 CSI5* ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Saturday, July 7 with his 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medal partner, Fine Lady 5.  His winning mount on opening day of the ‘Masters’ was Chacco Kid, his mount for the upcoming Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Equestrian Games in Tryon, NC.

“In two weeks, we are off to the world championships and I’m using Spruce Meadows as his training ground,” said Lamaze, currently ranked number three in the world.  “I think I’m doing the right thing!”

Lamaze and Chacco Kid, a 12-year-old chestnut Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue x Come On), faced off against 37 entries in the $70,200 1.60m Akita Drilling Cup with six advancing to the jump-off over the course designed by Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela.  With a time of 35.32 seconds over the short course, Lamaze took the win over Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat who stopped the clock in 35.53 seconds riding Alamo while Egypt’s Sameh El Dahan delivered another clear round in a time of 35.67 to take third.

“It’s always good to win on the first day because you don’t know what is going to happen the rest of the week!” laughed Lamaze.

Lamaze will saddle up Coco Bongo, owned by Artisan Farms and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable, for the $460,000 BMO Nations’ Cup at the CSIO5* Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ tournament on Saturday, September 8.  He will join Lisa Carlsen of Okotoks, AB, Kara Chad of Calgary, AB, and Ian Millar of Perth, ON in representing Canada in the prestigious team event.

Based in Wellington, FL and Brussels, Belgium, Lamaze is the all-time money winner at Spruce Meadows with career earnings in excess of $5.8 million at the Canadian venue.

For more information on Eric Lamaze, visit www.ericlamaze.com.

CONTACT: Jennifer Ward | cell: 613-292-5439 | www.startinggate.ca

Spencer Smith Wins Third Consecutive Grand Prix in Europe

Spencer Smith and Theodore Manciais. Photo by Solenn Rispail for R&B Presse.

Valence, France – For the third Sunday in a row, Spencer Smith of the United States claimed a grand prix victory in Europe.  Under the tutelage of 2008 Canadian Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze, Smith won the CSI2* Grand Prix at Global Champions Tour London, England on August 5; the CSI2* Grand Prix at Global Champions Tour Valkenswaard, Netherlands on August 12; and the €100,000 CSI4* Grand Prix in Valence, France on August 19.

Smith’s first victory in London came aboard Happiness, an 11-year-old chestnut Belgian Warmblood mare (Quadrillo x Burggraaf) owned by the Watermark Group.  Nine riders contested the jump-off, with Smith jumping clear in a time of 32.62 seconds to claim victory over Great Britain Show Jumping Team veteran, Amanda Derbyshire, who stopped the clock in 33.32 seconds riding Cornwall BH.

Valkenswaard was the next stop on the Global Champions Tour and Smith had his work cut out for him.  From a starting field of 91 entries, 38 qualified for the jump-off in the €26,100 CSI2* Grand Prix with another 18 pairs again jumping clear.  With speed being the name of the game, Smith and Theodore Manciais, an 11-year-old bay Selle Francais gelding (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Power Light) owned by his family’s Ashland Farms, stopped the clock in 34.21 seconds to win by exactly one full second over Brazil’s Yuri Mansur riding van het Indihof Hunter and relegating Simon Deleste of France to third with Conbelleza.

With two wins at the two-star level to his credit, Smith stepped up to the four-star level in Valence, joining 39 other horse-rider combinations to contest the €100,000 CSI4* Grand Prix, presented by Axeria – SFAM.  In a repeat of their win in the $132,000 CSI3* Horseware Ireland Grand Prix earlier this year in Wellington, Florida, Smith and Theodore Manciais posted the only clear round to take the win without a jump-off.

“This is the third week in a row that Spencer has won the grand prix,” said Lamaze of his 21-year-old protege.  “The grand prix he won today was big; for him to be clear in the four-star grand prix in Valence was amazing.”

Winner of the 2014 Pessoa/US Hunter Seat Medal Finals, Smith made his United States Equestrian Team debut this spring as a member of the Nations’ Cup in Rome, Italy.  In addition to being one of several athletes that train and compete alongside Lamaze at show jumping’s highest level, Smith also works as a rider for his Torrey Pines Stable with bases in Brussels, Belgium and Wellington, Florida.

“Spencer is a great kid; he works hard, listens, and truly wants to be a student of the sport,” said Lamaze, who has long done business with Smith’s parents, professional trainers Ken and Emily Smith, of Ashland Farms based in Lexington, Kentucky.  “I saw something in Spencer.  He rode well, and he has been brought up in our sport by true professionals.  He had a background in hunters and equitation, and now he’s finding success at the biggest and most competitive show jumping venues in the world.

“He is a big part of our business at Torrey Pines and is a huge asset to our team, and he deserves every congratulation on what he has accomplished,” concluded Lamaze.

For more information on Eric Lamaze and Torrey Pines Stable, visit www.ericlamaze.com.

CONTACT: Jennifer Ward | cell: 613-292-5439 | www.startinggate.ca

Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 Victorious in $385,000 CSI5* ‘Continental’ Grand Prix

Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5. Photo by Spruce Meadows Media.

Calgary, Alberta – Canadian Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze stood in the winner’s circle for the third day in a row after claiming the $385,000 CSI5* ‘Continental’ Grand Prix riding Fine Lady 5 on Sunday, June 17, at the Spruce Meadows ‘Continental’ tournament in Calgary, AB.

Having won Friday night’s $131,600 Scotiabank Cup in spectacular fashion aboard Chacco Kid, Lamaze again won on Saturday, taking the $70,200 Canadian Utilities Cup with new mount, Saura de Fondcombe, owned by Katharina Peter.  His third win on Sunday came aboard Fine Lady 5, his individual bronze medal partner at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Riding Fine Lady 5, the 15-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) his Torrey Pines Stable owns in partnership with Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms, Lamaze was one of seven riders to jump clear and qualify for the jump-off over a testing track set by course designer Guilherme Jorge of Brazil.  In the same scenario as Friday night’s Scotiabank Cup, Lamaze was chasing the jump-off time posted by young American Lucy Deslauriers and Hester when he entered the ring.  And in a repeat of Friday night, Lamaze was again faster, stopping the clock in 43.22 seconds compared to the 43.66 posted by Deslauriers.

Lamaze is using the Spruce Meadows Summer Series consisting of four weeks of CSI5* competition, the highest level of show jumping competition sanctioned by the Federation Equestre International (FEI), to prepare for September’s FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, NC.  When Fine Lady 5 was originally purchased in the spring of 2014 from Germany’s Holger Wulschner, she was not intended to be used for 1.60m grand prix competition.

“Fine Lady was purchased as a speed horse, as a 1.45m/1.50m ranking horse,” explained Lamaze, who is based in Wellington, FL and Brussels, Belgium.  “Prior to the Rio Olympics, we stepped her up and put her in some big competitions here at Spruce Meadows in the Summer Series and she just blossomed.  Then we moved her up at Aachen and she won.  At the Olympics I couldn’t believe it; the final round was big and although I wouldn’t say she jumped it easily – none of the horses jumped it easily – she jumped it.  It was a very pleasant surprise.

“Any horse that did well in recent major championships, the ones that ended up on the podium at an Olympics or World Championships, most of them came here in the summer time and trained for the four weeks,” continued Lamaze.  “In a year when there is a world championship, there is no better place to prepare than the Spruce Meadows Summer Series.  It makes you a better rider.  This Summer Series serves us on many levels.  It’s good for developing younger horses and younger riders and it also prepares more experienced combinations for major championships.”

As Fine Lady 5 is his intended mount for the World Equestrian Games, Lamaze is choosing her classes carefully.  He will now rest the mare for two weeks before bringing her out to contest the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ tournament from July 4 to 8.

“I love coming to Spruce Meadows; we have real competition here,” said Lamaze, who is the all-time leading money winner at the Calgary venue.  “It’s the only venue in Canada that I come to.  This facility has been very good to me.  And I love competing in front of our fans.  It feels like home.”

Lamaze will now have a week off from competition before returning to Calgary for the back-to-back Spruce Meadows ‘Pan American’ and ‘North American’ tournaments.

For more information on Eric Lamaze, please visit www.ericlamaze.com.

CONTACT: Jennifer Ward | cell: 613-292-5439 | www.startinggate.ca

Eric Lamaze Scores Back-to-Back Wins at Spruce Meadows

Eric Lamaze and Chacco Kid. Photo by Spruce Meadows Media.

Calgary, Alberta – Canada’s Eric Lamaze scored back-to-back victories at the CSI5* Spruce Meadows ‘Continental’ tournament on June 15 and 16.  Hot off his win in Friday night’s $131,600 Scotiabank Cup, Lamaze returned to the Meadows on the Green arena on Saturday to claim victory in the $70,200 Canadian Utilities Cup.

On Friday night, Lamaze qualified both Chacco Kid, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue x Come On) owned by the Chacco Kid Group, and his 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medal partner, Fine Lady 5, for the jump-off, joining six other horse-rider combinations.  Once Chacco Kid posted a time of 37.13 seconds over the course designed by Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge to move into the lead by over two seconds, Lamaze elected to withdraw Fine Lady 5 in the hopes his leading time would stand up for the win.  Stand up it did, with Lamaze and Chacco Kid claiming the Scotiabank Cup over 19-year-old American Lucy Deslauriers who stopped the timers in 39.16 seconds riding Hester.

“Most grand prix events don’t even offer $100,000 in prize money so when you’re going for $131,000 on a Friday night, you are jumping for real money,” said Lamaze.  “It was an incredible class.  The track that Guilherme set was built for speed.  If you wanted to win, you had to be committed.

“After the jump-off round I had with Chacco, I didn’t think I could possibly go any faster with Fine Lady!” said Lamaze of his decision to withdraw Fine Lady 5, automatically placing the pair eighth.

The leading all-time money winner at Spruce Meadows, Lamaze increased his lead even further on Saturday by winning the Canadian Utilities Cup.  A total of 12 riders jumped clear in the first round to advance to the tie-breaker including Lamaze aboard a new mount, Saura de Fondcombe, owned by Katharina Peter.  As the tenth rider to return for the jump-off, Lamaze was chasing a time of 36.07 set by Daniel Coyle of Ireland riding Quintin.  Despite the new partnership, Lamaze guided the 12-year-old selle francais mare (Balou du Rouet x Paladin des Ifs) home in a time 35.38 seconds to claim his second victory in as many days at the iconic Canadian show jumping venue.

“Last night, the jump-off was insane!  Today was a little more subdued,” laughed Lamaze, 50, who also finished runner-up in Thursday night’s $40,000 1.50m Husky Energy Classic with Saura de Fondcombe.  “It was a solid 1.50m course with 12 clear, and I had a good position going towards the end.  She is a very careful, genuine mare.  She’s had a lot of experience at this level and you can take a lot of risk.  She’s a really good horse.

“As I always say, if you win a class at Spruce Meadows, you can win anywhere in the world,” said Lamaze.  “Horses learn a lot and riders learn a lot by competing here.  It’s real sport.  If you want to participate in any major championships, you have to prove you can survive Spruce Meadows!”

Lamaze will saddle up Fine Lady 5, the 15-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) he owns in partnership with Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms, for Sunday’s $385,000 CSI5* ‘Continental’ Grand Prix beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Following the Spruce Meadows Summer Series, concluding on July 8, Lamaze will return to his home base in Brussels, Belgium.  From there, he will compete at the CSI5* Global Champions Tour in Chantilly, France, from July 12 to 15 followed by CHIO Aachen, Germany, from July 17 to 22.

For more information on Eric Lamaze, please visit www.ericlamaze.com.

CONTACT: Jennifer Ward | cell: 613-292-5439 | www.startinggate.ca

Eric Lamaze Claims First Win of 2018 Competition Season

Eric Lamaze riding Chacco Kid. Photo by Starting Gate Communications.

Wellington, Florida – Eric Lamaze scored his first win of the 2018 season, claiming victory over 109 starters in the $35,000 CSI2* Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round II on Thursday, January 18, at the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.

Mexican course designer Oscar Soberon whittled the enormous 109-horse starting field down to nine for the tie-breaking jump-off.  None was faster than Lamaze and Chacco Kid, with the pair stopping the clock in the winning time of 34.68 seconds.  Remarkably, there was a three-way tie for second place as Emanuele Camilli of Italy and Cian O’Connor and Paul O’Shea, both of Ireland, crossed the timers in exactly 36.76 seconds.

Lamaze concluded his 2017 show season by competing at CSI5* events in Paris, France and Geneva, Switzerland in December, before relocating to Florida for the winter season.

“Every year at the start of WEF, I use a horse that is coming off Paris and Geneva; rather than give him a rest, I keep him going and compete with him in Florida as he is already in form,” explained Lamaze, who has won Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medals during his illustrious career.  “For a lot of the riders, their horses have been on a lay-off.  Today’s class was very competitive with 109 starters, but it was nice for Chacco Kid to do a round at a lower height of 1.45m than he was jumping in Paris and Geneva.  When it comes to the jump-off, he has the experience going fast. I know him well, and I don’t mind taking some risks that perhaps a year ago I wasn’t comfortable doing.”

Lamaze welcomed Chacco Kid to his Torrey Pines Stable during the Winter Equestrian Festival two years ago by way of Colombia.  The now 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue x Come On) is owned by the Chacco Kid Group, comprised of Sara and Rick Mershad, Carol and Ludi Sollak, and Carlene and Andy Ziegler.

“The development of this horse has been a little backwards,” explained Lamaze of Chacco Kid’s progression since 2016.  “Although he had been ridden by good riders in Colombia, he had never been exposed to big international shows.  He was very inexperienced that way but, with it being an Olympic year, we wanted to save my Olympic horse, Fine Lady 5, as much as possible.  Normally you would have him start out competing at 1.45m, but he ended up doing the big Nations’ Cups in Aachen and Rome, and the grand prix at La Baule, so it went a little backwards.  Now I’m doing what we should have done in the beginning.  He has the biggest heart, and always tries 100 percent.  It is very impressive what this little horse has done.”

While Lamaze is traditionally based in Wellington for the duration of the winter season, his competition schedule is a little different for 2018.

“I will have a different strategy this year as I’m going to do the Rolex show in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Holland, as well as the Global Champions Tour in Mexico City, which are both in March.  I’m planning my winter season around those two events,” said Lamaze, 49, who splits his time between training bases in Wellington and Brussels, Belgium.  “I did quite a bit of the Global Champions Tour last year, and I really enjoyed being part of the Hamburg Diamonds team with Harrie Smolders, Audrey Coulter, and Jos Verlooy; it was great to be among great riders and enjoy good team spirit.  Of course, we have World Championships to think about this year as well.  You try to target one or two horses towards that, keep competing, and pick the one that is performing the best at the time.”

In the meantime, Lamaze is building on his success by adding more horses to his competition roster.  Last year, Lamaze put together a group of owners to purchase Jewel 8, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Kannan x Indoctro), and continues to strengthen his stable with horsepower.

“We have some promising young horses coming up including Viva, a new mare that I think a lot of,” said Lamaze, who was double clear earlier on Thursday in the 1.45m competition riding Viva.  “I have another new nine-year-old that is spectacular, so we are adding some new horses to our string thanks to the continuing support of Andy and Carlene Ziegler of Artisan Farms, as well as some wonderful new owners who have gotten behind me.  It’s very exciting!”

For more information on Eric Lamaze, please visit www.ericlamaze.com.

CONTACT: Jennifer Ward | cell: 613-292-5439 | www.startinggate.ca

Eric Lamaze Ends Global Champions League with Team Victory

Eric Lamaze and Chacco Kid. Photo by Stefano Grasso for Global Champions League.

Doha, Qatar – Canada’s Eric Lamaze, riding alongside Harrie Smolders, led the Hamburg Diamonds to the overall victory in the final event of the Global Champions League held November 10 and 11 in Doha, Qatar.

The 2017 Global Champions League saw 18 teams participate, with the majority named for stops on the Global Champions League tour.  Heading into the final event of the season, the Hamburg Diamonds held a narrow lead over Valkenswaard United, with the final rankings to be decided over two days in Doha.

Lamaze incurred nine faults in Friday’s opening round, hindered by two broken ribs suffered days earlier, while his teammate, Harrie Smolders of The Netherlands, jumped a clear round to keep hopes of an overall victory alive.  On Saturday night, Lamaze delivered when it counted most, producing a clear round aboard his 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medal partner, Fine Lady 5, a 14-year-old bay Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) owned by Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms in partnership with Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable.  When Smolders matched his fault-free performance riding Don VHP Z, the Hamburg Diamonds secured the 2017 Global Champions League title with a total of 312 points over Valkenswaard United, who kept the pressure on right until the end and finished runner-up with 308 points.  The Mexico Amigos finished a distant third with 250 points.

The Hamburg Diamonds won a total of €2,269,614 in prize money throughout the 2017 Global Champions League season.  Lamaze, Smolders, and six-time British Olympian John Whitaker were joined by Audrey Coulter of the United States and Jos Verlooy of Belgium, both two-time World Cup Finalists, in representing the Hamburg Diamonds over the course of the 2017 season for owners Copernicus and Euro Horse.  Two riders from each team are selected to compete in each of the 15 Global Champions League events held around the world.

“Thank you to Axel Verlooy and the Coulter family for including me on their team this season,” said Lamaze, 49, who rode alongside Smolders, Coulter, and Jos Verlooy during his 2017 season appearances.  “When Axel first approached me, I didn’t hesitate to join such a strong team.  It took the best riders to win the championship title.

“I would also like to thank my owners, particularly Andy and Carlene Ziegler, for allowing me to ride their horses in the Global Champions League this year,” added Lamaze.

Lamaze competed in four Global Champions League events riding his 2016 Rio Olympic mount, Fine Lady 5.  He also made three appearances with Chacco Kid, an 11-year-old chestnut Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue x Come On) owned by Andy and Carlene Ziegler, Rick and Sara Mershad, and Ludi and Carol Sollak, who, collectively, form The Chacco Kid Group.

Lamaze has two competitions left on his 2017 schedule.  The three-time Canadian Olympic medalist will compete at the CSI5* Paris Masters in France from November 30 to December 3 before heading to Switzerland for the CHI Geneva from December 7 to 10.  In Geneva, Lamaze will defend his title in the innovative Rolex IJRC Top Ten Final, which offers 475,000 Swiss francs in prize money to the top ten ranked riders in the world, on Friday night, December 8, as well as contest the Rolex Grand Prix, part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, on Sunday, December 10.

For more information on Eric Lamaze, visit www.EricLamaze.com.

Media Contact:  Jennifer Ward
Starting Gate Communications
Cell: (613) 292-5439
www.startinggate.ca

Ian Millar Claims $50,000 CSI2* Jumper Classic in Caledon

Ian Millar riding Dixson. Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography.

Caledon, Ontario – Ten-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar of Perth, ON opened the Canadian international show jumping season with a win in the $50,000 CSI2* Jumper Classic, presented by Horseware, on Sunday, May 21, during the CSI2* Caledon National in Caledon, ON.

The clear rounds just kept coming for Millar and Dixson throughout the five-day CSI2* Caledon National tournament.  Having jumped double-clear in Friday’s $35,000 CSI2* Open Welcome for a fifth-place finish, the pair turned up the heat in Sunday’s Jumper Classic.  With the advantage of being the final challenger in an eight-horse jump-off, Millar knew exactly what he had to do to catch the leading time of 34.82 seconds set by Ireland’s Conor Swail and Flower, a new acquisition owned in partnership with Canada’s Vanessa Mannix.  With decades of experience under his belt, Millar sliced and diced his way around the jump-off track, meeting every distance with trademark precision.  As he cleared the final obstacle and galloped through the timers, the new winning time of 34.09 seconds flashed on the scoreboard.

“Conor pushed me really hard; he was fast, but Dixson was right on his game!” said Millar, 70, of the 14-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Vigo d’Arsouilles x Olisco) owned by Susan and Ariel Grange of Cheltenham, ON.  “There was a turn to the pair of verticals where we happened to catch the correct distance and shaved the time off.  I know Dixson well, and he knows me, too.  He knows what I’m about to do it almost before I know I’m going to do it.  We’re like a married couple.”

Millar and Dixson celebrated their victory in the same arena where they had helped Canada claim the Team Gold medal two years earlier during the 2015 Pan American Games.  As the host of equestrian events, the Caledon Equestrian Park now serves as an important legacy to horse sport.

“Dixson is starting his Canadian season here at the Caledon Equestrian Park,” said Millar, who spent the winter competing at the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL.  “He’ll enjoy a rest next week, and then we’re off to Langley, BC, where he’s on the Nations’ Cup team for Canada.  Then it’s over the mountains to Spruce Meadows for the summer series.”

Millar had two shots at victory in the $50,000 CSI2* Jumper Classic, as he also qualified Vittorio 8 for the tie-breaker by jumping clear over the first-round track set by two-time Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela.  Millar has been riding Vittorio 8 for owner Future Adventures for the past year, and the pair was double clear in a time of 36.25 seconds to finish in fifth position.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what the Spruce Meadows tour will do for him,” said Millar of the nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Valentino DDH x Ramiro’s Bube).  “He has the technique, power – he’s careful, modern.  He would be a Games horse.  He’s just nine now and if he takes the next step over the next year, he is there.”

While Millar dominated Sunday’s proceedings followed closely by Swail, another Irishman settled for third.  Daniel Coyle, who is 22 years of age, guided Cita, an 11-year-old Holsteiner mare (Casall x Pik Ramiro) to a third place finish for owners Susan and Ariel Grange, giving the mother-and-daughter team both the win as well as a third place finish.  Erynn Ballard of Tottenham, ON took fourth place following a clear jump-off performance in a time of 35.24 seconds riding Carimba B, a nine-year-old Hanoverian mare (Contendro I x For Pleasure) owned by her family’s Looking Back Farm.

While Swail may have settled for second in Sunday’s $50,000 Jumper Classic, it was he who stood alone in the winner’s circle following Friday’s $35,000 CSI2* Open Welcome.  The times were close but, in the end, Swail’s time of 39.49 seconds gave him the edge over Coyle, who had stopped the clock in 39.62 riding Cita.

Canadians filled the next three spots in the placings with Keean White of Rockwood, ON turning in a time of 41.10 to take third with Carrera v/h Westleven Z, Canadian Olympian Beth Underhill of Schomberg, ON placing fourth with a time of 41.47 riding Count Me In, and Millar and Dixson rounding out the top five with a time of 42.30 seconds.

FEI-sanctioned show jumping competition continues with the CSI2* Classic at Palgrave Phase II from May 23 to 28 at the Caledon Equestrian Park.  The tournament marks the second of five weeks of FEI competition offered at the Caledon Equestrian Park this year by competition organizer Equestrian Management Group.

For more information on the CSI2* Caledon National, including full results, as well as a full competition schedule, please visit www.caledonequestrianpark.com.

Media Contact:  Jennifer Ward
Starting Gate Communications
Cell: (613) 292-5439
www.startinggate.ca

Eric Lamaze Reflects on Career Year

Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Photo by Arnd Bronkhorst Photography.

Wellington, Florida – Canada’s Eric Lamaze marked a career year in 2016 by adding even more medals and accolades to his already impressive list of accomplishments.  As much as individual titles are meaningful, it is teamwork that truly drives the 2008 Olympic Champion.

The stage was set for success when, a year earlier, the Canadian Show Jumping Team claimed the gold medal in front of a home crowd at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada.  There was only one starting position for the 2016 Olympic Games up for the whole of North, Central and South America, and Canada clinched it with its gold medal performance.

“The Pan Am Games were super important because it was our only chance to qualify for the Olympics; it was absolutely crucial that we put in a good performance,” explained Lamaze of the event that was the catalyst for 2016.

Good riders need good horses, and while Lamaze and his teammate, Tiffany Foster, were strongly supported by their owners, Andy and Carlene Ziegler of Artisan Farms, Lamaze made it his mission to find major games horse power to put under Yann Candele.  That meant approaching potential investors, and the Watermark Group was quickly formed to purchase Showgirl, later followed by First Choice 15 and Happiness.  With a group committed to the cause, a small share of ownership for each of them meant big support for Candele, and for the rest of the Canadian Team.

“Canada had a great rider in Yann Candele, but he didn’t have the horses,” said Lamaze.  “When the opportunity to purchase Showgirl came about, Jennifer Rogers and John Edwards quickly stepped up to the plate, along with Deborah Roy and Artisan Farms.  When the time came to invest in new horses, we were able to expand the circle of support.  As a result, Yann was able to put in very good performances, helping Canada achieve great results at the World Equestrian Games, Pan Am Games, and Olympic Games.”

Additional investors for First Choice 15 and Happiness included Janice Aron, Susan Chu, and Moffat Dunlap.

“Watermark Group has been a big part of what we, as Canadians, have been able to achieve on the international scene,” Lamaze emphasized.  “We are truly grateful for their support, which was not just financial, but they supported us by coming to watch, and by being there at major events to cheer us on.  A small investment allowed so many people to support Yann, to support Canada, and to own an Olympic horse.  So much camaraderie was created by the members coming to Rio to support Yann and First Choice.”

While having strong teammates was a priority, Lamaze also focused on managing the show schedule of his selected Olympic mount, Fine Lady 5.  With other horses in his stable able to jump in grand prix and Nations’ Cup events, Lamaze was able to carefully select Fine Lady 5’s classes to have her in top form for Olympic competition.

“Everything with Fine Lady’s season was based around the Olympics,” said Lamaze of the 13-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) owned by Artisan Farms.  “It was a well-planned season; even winning two classes at Aachen but not doing the grand prix in July was all part of the careful preparation.  I had a plan, and it paid off.  Sometimes it doesn’t go your way regardless of everything you do right but, in this case, it really worked.  Everything went my way.”

Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 arrived in Rio and blew the competition away as the only pair to jump five clear rounds and leading Canada into a jump-off against Germany for the team bronze medal.

“For us Canadians to have been jumping off against Germany for the bronze medal was a victory in itself!” said Lamaze.  “We had Yann’s horse that is not so fast and Amy Millar’s was a young horse, but to be in that position was, for us, a victory.

“Yann sacrificed his whole year with First Choice to be there for us at the Olympics, and Tiffany has really come into her own and is a very strong teammate.  Amy was at her first Olympics riding a nine-year-old horse, and she did everything right to prepare – she came to Europe; she jumped in the Nations’ Cup at Aachen.  The effort that everyone put forth for the Canadian team was very impressive, and I am very proud of everybody and how we all worked together.”

With Canada finishing fourth in the team standings, the weight of a nation now rested on Lamaze’s shoulders.  Canadian fans reminisced about his incredible gold medal victory with Hickstead at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and, having witnessed Fine Lady’s incredible form, hoped for a repeat performance in the individual final.

The pair jumped both rounds of the individual final clear, but so did six other horse-rider combinations to force an all-deciding jump-off for the medals.  While they would have had the winning time, a rail down at the penultimate fence gave Lamaze the individual bronze while his long-time friend, Nick Skelton, claimed the gold for Great Britain aboard Big Star.  Added to his individual gold and team silver from Beijing, Lamaze has now won an Olympic medal in every colour for Canada, setting a record for the most Olympic medals ever won by a Canadian equestrian athlete.

“Fine Lady’s performance, in my opinion, made her the best horse at the Olympic Games,” said Lamaze, 48.  “She delivered round after round of impressive jumping.  It really showed the heart that she has.  It’s one thing to jump a clear round at the Olympics, it’s another to jump five of them!

“For an animal to come into its own like that, so on point and so full of confidence, was incredible,” he continued.  “She gave me confidence that we could do it because she had confidence.  I will always remember her as being the best horse at the Rio Olympics.”

Another great memory that Lamaze treasures from Rio is the support that he, and the entire Canadian team, received.

“When we went into the arena, seeing all the Canadian flags in the air gave us an extra boost of support,” he said fondly.  “We really saw their energy, and it transferred into us wanting to do even better.  I could see Carlene Ziegler, I could see Kim Kirton, and so many members of the Watermark Group.  It meant so much for those people to support us the way that they did.  Looking up in the stands and seeing familiar faces brought a smile to my face and made me feel great about what we were achieving.  That is a memory I will always cherish.”

Lamaze reserved the greatest gratitude for Andy and Carlene Ziegler, whose generous and unwavering support following the sudden death of Hickstead allowed him to come back from tragedy and once again stand on the Olympic podium.

“The Olympic medal from Rio is every part theirs,” said Lamaze of the Ziegler family, who were recently named the Jump Canada ‘Owner of the Year’ for a record fourth time.  “They did everything they could to provide us with the best horses with the Olympic Games always being the goal.  I am very happy that we could achieve the goal that we set for ourselves at a time when, for me, it was hard to believe it would ever be possible.  We would be nothing without Andy and Carlene’s support.”

Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 closed out their year with a thrilling performance to win the €300,000 Rolex Top Ten Final on December 9, in Geneva, Switzerland.

“It was a touching moment for me,” said Lamaze, who had contested the Rolex IJRC Top Ten Final four previous times in his career.  “It brought back so many memories with Hickstead, and the days when I was in the top ten in the world.  It was a competition where we always came close, but I was never able to win it with him.

“It was a title that I was very happy to add to my accomplishments,” said Lamaze, a Rolex testimonee who is also sponsored by Bruno Delgrange, Dy’on, Samshield, and SSG Gloves.  “You are competing against the ten best horses in the world on their best horses.  To be the only Canadian to have ever participated is something, but to bring the title back to Canada was very special.  I hope that seeing a Canadian win that competition is inspiring not just to every Canadian rider, but also to every young person who is looking to move up in the sport.”

Looking to 2017, Lamaze will begin the year competing at the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.  In addition to Fine Lady 5, Lamaze has high hopes for Chacco Kid, a ten-year-old chestnut Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue x Come On) purchased during the 2016 WEF season by Rick and Sara Mershad, Ludi and Carol Sollak, and Andy and Carlene Ziegler.

“One of the reasons we were able to prepare Fine Lady so successfully for Rio was due to my other horses all playing a part in giving her some relief,” explained Lamaze.  “She was able to skip some Nations’ Cup competitions thanks to the Chacco Kid Group supporting me by purchasing this incredible horse.  With Chacco Kid stepping up and taking on some difficult tasks, especially given his stage of development, it really gave Fine Lady a chance.  We look forward to a very bright future with this horse.”

Reflecting on an incredible season by anyone’s standards, Lamaze said, “I would like to thank all of my staff for doing what they do.  We are very much looking forward to a new season in 2017 with all our students striving to get better and better; we look forward to helping them achieve their goals.  A special thank you to Kara Chad, who is my rider and helps organize Torrey Pines.  Kara was on the Nations’ Cup team at Aachen and the reserve rider for the Olympic Games.  She is only 20 years old, and it is refreshing to have a young rider on our team.  I think she will be a big asset to Canadian show jumping in the future.”

Currently ranked number six in the world, Lamaze credits his success over the past decade to basing himself in Europe and competing against the best in the sport week in and week out.  Lamaze’s personal success also helped open the door for other Canadians to gain European exposure, with Canada fielding teams at such prestigious Nations’ Cup events in 2016 as Rome (Italy) and Aachen (Germany).  Individuals were also invited to five-star events such as La Baule (France), Paris (France), and Geneva.

“We have now established a strong path to international competition where we, as Canadians, are well-received,” stated Lamaze, who is based in Brussels (Belgium) and Wellington, FL.  “We have the support of our chef d’equipe Mark Laskin as well as Karen Hendry-Ouellette at Equine Canada, who is well-connected and such a valuable liaison and asset to our team, especially when we are competing at all the venues in Europe.  The pathway to Europe for up-and-coming Canadian riders has already been created, and I urge everyone to get themselves to Europe and better themselves.  Other than Spruce Meadows, there is no place in Canada where riders can measure themselves against the highest level of the sport.

“Tiffany Foster is a great example of that; she is competing against the best in the world, and has climbed so high in the World Rankings,” stated Lamaze of Foster’s 21st position.  “It is important to get out of your comfort zone and compete against the best if you truly want to be the best.  Initiatives like the Watermark Group and all that we’ve accomplished shows how important, yet attainable, it is for Canada to have the support of owners if we want to keep performing, and winning medals, on the world stage.  As we’ve proven, small steps in the right direction can bring big results for Canada.”

In conclusion, Lamaze said, “Thank you to everyone for such an incredible year.  I’m so proud of the Canadian athletes and what we have accomplished by working together.  We now have the 2018 World Equestrian Games and 2020 Tokyo Olympics to look forward to, and the incredible support of our owners will once again position Canada as medal contenders.”

For more information on Eric Lamaze, please visit www.ericlamaze.com.

Media Contact: Jennifer Ward
Starting Gate Communications
Cell: (613) 292-5439
www.startinggate.ca

Eric Lamaze Wins Rolex Top Ten Final in Geneva

Germany’s Christian Ahlmann (left) and Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat hoist Eric Lamaze holding the Rolex IJRC Top Ten trophy in an impromptu podium celebration.  Photo by Arnd Bronkhorst Photography.

Geneva, Switzerland – Canada’s Eric Lamaze claimed the €300,000 Rolex Top Ten Final riding his Rio Olympic bronze medal partner, Fine Lady 5, on Friday night, December 9, in Geneva, Switzerland.

With the top ten riders in the world show jumping rankings going head-to-head in a two-round showdown of epic proportions, Lamaze jumped clear in the opening round riding Fine Lady 5, a 13-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) owned by Artisan Farms.  As Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 had posted the fastest clear in the opening round, they had the luxury of going last in the all-deciding second round of competition.

Currently ranked number one in the world, Germany’s Christian Ahlmann had set the time to beat at 43.05 seconds riding Taloubet Z, forcing Lamaze to take every risk and rely on Fine Lady 5’s tremendously fast foot speed in a full-out effort to catch his time.  Coming home to the final fence on course, the packed house cheered encouragement as Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 sailed over the Rolex oxer and stopped the clock in 42.56 seconds to take the win.  Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, the 2012 Olympic Champion, was the only other rider to jump double clear, placing third riding Corbinian with a time of 44.30 seconds.

“Going last gave me an advantage in the jump-off,” said Lamaze, the 2008 Olympic Champion who is currently ranked number six in the world.  “I thought Christian Ahlmann was not going to be beatable, but my gallop to the last fence won it for me!

“It’s a big win!” continued Lamaze.  “The Rolex Top Ten is one of the most prestigious competitions that we have throughout the year, showcasing the best riders in the world riding their best horses at this moment in time.  A grand prix is a grand prix, but the Rolex Top Ten is something special.  Having been second once before, having been so close, it means a lot to me to win.  And especially on this mare that had such an unbelievable Olympics; it’s like her gold medal!”

Lamaze has contested the Rolex IJRC Top Ten Final four previous times in his career with his best finish coming in 2011 when he was the runner-up riding Coriana van Klapscheut, also owned by Artisan Farms.  His other three appearances, in 2008, 2009 and 2010, were all aboard the legendary stallion Hickstead, the horse that carried him to the 2008 Olympic championship title as well as the team silver for Canada.  Lamaze is the only Canadian to have ever contested the Rolex IJRC Top Ten Final in its 16-year history.

“As a Canadian, I am extremely proud to bring this title back to Canada,” said Lamaze, 48, who has won Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals for his country.  “I hope this gives great hope to the new generation of riders back home.  Everything is possible.”

Lamaze spoke to the importance of having great owners behind him, noting, “The support I received from Andy and Carlene Ziegler of Artisan Farms after the tragedy of losing Hickstead truly revived my career.  I don’t know if I would be standing where I am today without them.  I am so thankful to them, and so thankful to Rolex for putting on this amazing event.  This is truly something special.”

Lamaze, who is also a Rolex testimonee, will contest the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon, December 11, at CHI Geneva.  Part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Geneva is the third leg each year following Aachen, Germany, in July and Calgary, Canada, in September.  Great Britain’s Scott Brash is the current live contender for the €1 million bonus offered to any rider able to win all three grand prix events in succession, having won the last event at Calgary’s Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’.

For more information on CHI Geneva and the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, visit www.chi-geneve.ch and www.rolexgrandslam.com.

Media Contact: Jennifer Ward
Starting Gate Communications
Cell: (613) 292-5439
www.startinggate.ca

Eric Lamaze Claims Individual Bronze at 2016 Rio Olympics

Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5. Photo by Arnd Bronkhorst Photography.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON claimed the individual bronze medal on the final day of show jumping competition held Friday, August 19, at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Riding Fine Lady 5, owned by Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable, Lamaze jumped clear in both rounds of the Individual Final to join a six-horse jump-off for the individual medals.

In the jump-off, Nick Skelton of Great Britain led with a clear round riding Big Star, stopping the clock at 42.82 seconds.  Steve Guerdat of Switzerland, Sheikh Ali Al Thani of Qatar and Kent Farrington of the United States all had rails down before Sweden’s Peder Fredricson jumped clear in a time of 43.35 seconds riding All In to secure a medal; the only question was which one it would be.  It was all up to Lamaze, who was the final rider to enter the packed Deodoro Olympic stadium.

Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 had been the only pair to jump clear through every round of competition held over four days, but their luck ran out at the penultimate fence in the jump-off, giving the pair four faults.  Speed is never a question for Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 however, and they crossed the timers in 42.09 seconds, the fastest of all the jump-off contenders, to take the individual bronze medal.

“It was an incredible competition!” said Lamaze, who now has a third Olympic medal to add to his individual gold and team silver earned at the 2008 Beijing Olympics riding Hickstead.  “To even represent your country, let alone win a medal, at the Olympics is just amazing.  I am so grateful to Fine Lady and for the support of Andy and Carlene Ziegler.  To have a horse with the ability to come here and do that is incredible.  This medal is as much theirs as it is mine.

“Fine Lady didn’t win the jump-off, but she won the Olympics, in my opinion,” continued Lamaze of the 13-year-old bay Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II).  “She was the best horse; she was the only horse that started the jump-off today with zero faults.  But at the Olympics, it’s a brand new slate on the last day, and those other clear rounds don’t count.  That’s the way it is.  It was a gruelling competition, and for Fine Lady to be one of the best horses at the Olympic Games is incredible.”

Lamaze carefully built Fine Lady 5 up throughout the 2016 season with Rio in mind, competing throughout the winter in Wellington, FL and spending four weeks in June and July in Calgary, AB, competing at the Spruce Meadows ‘Summer Series’.

“We made the plan this year, and the whole thing was set up for her; she needed to arrive here full of confidence,” said Lamaze of his Olympic preparation.  “Spruce Meadows is one of the very best venues to get ready for championships, and we are very lucky to have that in Canada.

“I’m incredibly proud of the entire Canadian team, and especially that we qualified three riders for the Individual Final,” concluded Lamaze.

Having led the Canadian Show Jumping Team to a fourth place finish following a jump-off against Germany for the bronze medal on Wednesday, Lamaze sat at the top the leaderboard heading into the Individual Final, which saw the top 35 compete.  He was joined by teammates Yann Candele, 45, and Tiffany Foster, 32, in the battle for an individual medal.

Foster of North Vancouver, BC had the last fence down in the opening round of the Individual Final riding Tripple X III, a 14-year-old Anglo European stallion (Namelus R x Cantango) owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable.  Her score of four faults allowed her to move through to the second round, but 12 faults left them out of medal contention and in 26th position overall.

“I’ve never ridden in the Individual Final in any championships, so this is as far as I’ve ever gotten!” said an elated Foster, who made her Olympic debut in London in 2012.  “I’m thrilled with my horse; he gave me everything he had this whole week.  I couldn’t be happier with him, and I couldn’t be happier with my team.  I had the best Olympics I’ve ever had!”

Candele of Caledon, ON incurred 12 faults in the first round to tie for 32nd position in his Olympic debut riding First Choice 15, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding (For Keeps x Angard) owned by the Watermark Group, a group of owners committed to supporting the Canadian Show Jumping Team.

“My horse was a bit tired today,” said Candele, noting that the Individual Final was the fourth day of Olympic-calibre show jumping.  “Basically, I was under the pace and that created the faults, I guess.

“I’ve never seen an Olympic Games with such a high standard of horse and rider combinations,” noted Candele.  “You had 15 or 20 starters that could have easily won.”

In the end, it was Great Britain’s Nick Skelton who stood in the center of the medal podium, flanked by Peder Fredricson of Sweden who won individual silver and 2008 Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze wearing the individual bronze medal for Canada.

For more information on the equestrian events at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, visit www.rio2016.com/en/equestrian-schedule-and-results.

Media Contact: Jennifer Ward
Starting Gate Communications
Cell: (613) 292-5439
www.startinggate.ca