Category Archives: Jennifer Ward

Eric Lamaze Scores Back-to-Back Grand Prix Victories at Spruce Meadows

Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5. Photo by Sportfot.

Calgary, Alberta – Canada’s Eric Lamaze scored back-to-back grand prix victories at the iconic Spruce Meadows show jumping venue in Calgary, AB.  Hot off his win riding Chacco Kid in the $500,000 CSI5* RBC Grand Prix of Canada, presented by Rolex, on Saturday, June 8, Lamaze repeated his winning ways on Sunday, June 16, by capturing the $390,000 CSI5* Friends of the Meadows Grand Prix, presented by Rolex, riding Fine Lady 5 to close out the Spruce Meadows ‘Continental’ tournament.

Forty-one of the world’s top show jumping athletes tackled the technical track set by Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt in the Meadows on the Green ring.  Seven riders, including three Olympic gold medalists, delivered clear rounds to set the stage for what would prove to be a thrilling jump-off.

2012 Olympic Champion and current number one rider in the world, Steve Guerdat of Switzerland, was the first to return for the jump-off.  He set the early pace, turning in a clear performance in a time of 38.68 seconds riding Venard de Cerisy.  Speed demon Kent Farrington, a member of the U.S. silver medal team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, was up next with Creedance.  His time of 38.73 seconds was close, but not close enough, and would leave him fourth in the final standings.

Lamaze and Fine Lady 5, a 16-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) owned by Artisan Farms LLC and his Torrey Pines Stable, sped around the track in a time of 38.65 seconds to move to the top of the leaderboard.  When two-time Olympic team gold medalist Beezie Madden pulled a rail with Darry Lou, all eyes turned to Canada’s Mario Deslauriers and Amsterdam 27.  The 1984 World Cup champion took his best shot, coming home in 38.67 seconds, just two hundredths of a second behind Lamaze and one hundredth of a second in front of Guerdat.  It was all up to the final challenger, Germany’s Philipp Weishaupt.  Riding CHE Fantastica, Weishaupt crossed the timers in 38.78 seconds.  While seemingly close to Lamaze’s winning time of 38.65 seconds, it would only land him fifth in the final standings.

“I have never seen an event where the riders were this close,” remarked Vaillancourt, the only Canadian show jumping athlete other than Lamaze to have won an individual Olympic medal, claiming silver at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

“It was a great jump-off; everybody in there knows how to go fast!” said Lamaze, 51. “Anyone could have won today but my horse seems to jump the lowest in the air; she just skimmed the last fence.  She jumps quite flat and lands carrying the speed.  Some horses are more agile than others at being able to go fast, and it sure makes our lives easier.  My horse deserves a lot of the credit.”

Despite her winning form, Lamaze is already thinking ahead to Fine Lady 5’s future.

“She’s 16 this year, and she’s been an incredible horse for me,” said Lamaze of his Olympic individual bronze medal partner at the 2016 Rio Olympics.  “It’s hard to think retirement when you see her jumping like this, but I want to leave with her winning and feeling great about the sport.  She deserves it.”

Earlier in the week, Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 finished second to Farrington and Creedance in the Scotiabank Cup on Friday night, June 14.  At last week’s CSI5* ‘National’ tournament, the pair topped a 14-horse jump-off to win the PwC Cup on Thursday, June 6.

Following a week of rest, international show jumping competition will resume at Spruce Meadows with the CSI5* ‘Pan American’ and CSI5* ‘North American’ tournaments.  Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 are the defending champions of the $500,000 ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup, presented by Rolex, which will be held during the ‘North American’ tournament on Saturday, July 6.

Lamaze is the all-time leading money winner at Spruce Meadows with more than $6 million in career earnings.  For more information on Eric Lamaze and his Torrey Pines Stable, visit www.ericlamaze.com.

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

Emotional Victory for Eric Lamaze at Calgary’s Spruce Meadows

Photo by Sportfot.

Calgary, Alberta – It was an emotional victory for Canada’s Eric Lamaze in the $500,000 RBC Grand Prix of Canada, presented by Rolex, on Saturday, June 8, at the Spruce Meadows ‘National’ tournament in Calgary, AB.

In his first competition since publicly revealing that he has been battling a brain tumour for the past year and a half, Lamaze scored one of the most meaningful wins of his career.  Riding Chacco Kid, Lamaze topped a seven-horse jump-off in dramatic fashion.  Jumping clear in a time of 46.25 seconds, Lamaze moved into the lead with two riders to follow.  2018 World Cup Champion Beezie Madden of the U.S. had the time, 44.62 seconds, with Coach but a rail down at the final Rolex fence dropped her to fourth in the final standings.  The reigning World Cup Champion and one of Lamaze’s closest friends, Steve Guerdat of Switzerland, was the final challenger and looked on target with Albfuehren’s Bianca, but when the clock stopped in 46.96 seconds, the victory went to Lamaze.

“I didn’t get up this morning thinking this was possible,” said an emotional Lamaze, 51. “It shows what a good horse can do for you.  When you don’t have the fight in you, they fight for you.  It’s one the victories I will cherish forever.”

The all-time leading money winner at Spruce Meadows with more than $6 million in career earnings, Lamaze last won the Grand Prix title at the ‘National’ tournament in 2010 riding Hickstead.

“This is an ongoing battle for me and today is a gift,” said the 2008 Olympic Champion.  “With great support from Steve [Guerdat], my owners and clients, my staff, and people all around the world, you keep fighting and the dream came true.  With the great Hickstead was the last time I won this grand prix; he was looking out for me today.”

Lamaze has been partnered with his winning mount, Chacco Kid, a 13-year-old chestnut Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue x Come On), for the past three years.  The horse is owned by The Chacco Kid group consisting of Rick and Sara Mershad, Ludi and Carol Sollak, and Andy and Carlene Ziegler.

“It was his first real grand prix win in the International Ring,” said Lamaze of Chacco Kid.  “I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again – I do believe Spruce Meadows makes horses.  Chacco Kid arrived here three years ago and he’s a better horse because of it.  I can’t say enough about this facility.  Spruce Meadows is a place to bring young students and see them grow, and to bring young horses and see them grow.  If you win a competition here, you can win anywhere in the world.”

Leaving little doubt as to his will to win, Lamaze also claimed victory on Thursday evening riding his 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medal partner, Fine Lady 5, owned by Artisan Farms and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable.  The pair topped a 14-horse jump-off to win the $36,100 1.50m PwC Cup, beating out Ireland’s Conor Swail riding GK Coco Chanel and Lamaze’s student, Kara Chad of Calgary, AB, who finished third aboard Viva.

Proud of his students and thankful for his friends and supporters, Lamaze had the biggest praise for his equine partners.

“This is our livelihood but we are very close to these animals and what they do for us,” said Lamaze, who is based in Brussels, Belgium.  “The horses are a big part of why I am here today.  I don’t know what level I will continue riding at as the year goes on but I know horses will always be a part of my life.  I want to keep riding and I will keep fighting every day to do this.  The horse is the greatest therapy you can have.”

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

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

Ian Millar Announces Retirement from International Competition

Photo by Simon Stafford for Starting Gate Communications.

Perth, Ontario – Ten-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar has announced his retirement from international show jumping competition after nearly five decades at the top level.  One of the most successful show jumping riders of all time, Millar is stepping away from the international level to re-focus his efforts on coaching and developing young horses.

Born in Halifax, NS in 1947, Millar began riding at the age of 10 in Alberta and was named to his first Nations’ Cup team in 1971.  Since that time, Millar has been a stalwart on the Canadian Equestrian Team, revered for his ability to deliver under pressure in major competitions.  Millar has represented Canada in more than 200 Nations’ Cup team competitions, including appearances in 10 Olympic Games, 10 Pan American Games, and seven World Championships.  Millar’s 10 Olympic appearances is a world record for any athlete across all sports.  He won his first Olympic medal, a team silver, at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has 10 Pan American Games medals, including two individual and two team gold.

“Representing Canada many times over my career has been my greatest honour,” said Millar of Perth, ON.  “Each time I wore the red team jacket was very special to me, and the fact that I was able to share this experience with so many great riders is a testament to the quality of horsemen and horsewomen here in our country.”

In addition to his efforts representing Canada internationally, Millar has won over 150 grand prix competitions over the course of his illustrious career, including winning the prestigious international grand prix three times at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ tournament in Calgary, AB.  He is a 12-time Canadian Show Jumping Champion and was the first rider to win back-to-back World Cup Finals, earning the title in 1988 and 1989.  His most successful horse, Big Ben, was a household name throughout Canada in the late 1980s and 1990s and was a favourite to win everywhere he competed.

Millar built his home stable, Millar Brooke Farm, located in Perth, ON, into a powerhouse training ground for international show jumping.  In addition to his development of over 100 grand prix horses, Millar has coached a number of other top international riders including Canadian Olympic teammates Mario Deslauriers and Jill Henselwood, as well as Richard Spooner of the U.S.  He has also been instrumental in the successful careers of his son, Jonathon; daughter, Amy; and daughter-in-law, Kelly, all of whom currently represent their country in international competition.  Today, Millar operates Millar Brooke Farm alongside his children and focuses on producing top show jumping horses and riders for competition.

In recognition of his many successes, Millar has received numerous awards including being named a Member of the Order of Canada.  He has been inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, and the Jump Canada Hall of Fame.

While Millar is stepping back from international competition, he plans to be busier than ever working with up-and-coming athletes and horses.

“The bond formed between horse and rider is an amazing thing to experience, but the partnership has to be built the right way, with compassion, understanding, and care,” said Millar.  “Over the past few years, I have found myself more and more drawn toward working with young horses and riders, and I am excited to expand my coaching to share my knowledge and passion with the next generation.”

At the conclusion of his international career, Millar paid tribute to those closest to him over the years.

“It has been the journey of a lifetime with so many dreams realized, so much due to the fantastic horses I was blessed to ride, to whom I am eternally grateful,” said Millar.  “I would like to personally thank my owners and sponsors for all their help and support during my show jumping career.  While there are too many to name, my partnerships with owner Ann Matthews and sponsor BMO Financial Group had especially long and sustained successes.  I would also like to thank all the members of my support team who have supported me faithfully over the years: my family, staff, veterinarians, equine therapists, chef d’equipes, and all my fellow riders.  Finally, the biggest contributor to my success was my late wife, Lynn, with whom I shared my most cherished bond.  Through our partnership, we achieved incredible success.”

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

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