Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5. Photos © Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Darragh Kenny and Wilton Porter Win 1.45m Jump-Offs
Calgary, AB, Canada – July 4, 2014 – The Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ Tournament continued with wins for two of this summer’s top riders as well as an exciting first for a young up-and-comer in the International Ring on Friday. Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Fine Lady 5 topped the $50,000 LaFarge Cup 1.50m, Darragh Kenny (IRL) and Chin Quidam VDL won the $33,500 Pepsi Challenge 1.45m, and Wilton Porter (USA) and Diamonte Darco were victorious in the $33,500 Friends of the Meadows Jumper 1.45m.
Watch highlights from Friday’s competition!
The ‘North American’ Tournament continues through July 6, featuring the $210,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Saturday and the $210,000 Cenovus Energy Classic 1.50m Derby on Sunday.
Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela is the course designer in the International Ring for the week and set some challenging tracks on Friday. In the $50,000 LaFarge Cup, Palacios saw 25 entries with five clear rounds to advance to the jump-off. Eric Lamaze and Artisan Farms LLC’s Fine Lady 5 got the win with the only double clear round in 53.16 seconds. Richie Moloney (IRL) and Equinimity LLC’s Freestyle de Muze were clear over the jumps and finished with one time fault in 57.68 seconds. McLain Ward (USA) and his own and Susan Heller’s d’Ulien van de Smeets had the fastest jump-off time of 46.63 seconds, but incurred four faults to finish third.
Lamaze and Fine Lady 5, the 11-year-old Hanoverian mare by Forsyth x Hauptstutbuch, are already on their third international victory this summer in a brand new partnership that solidified quickly.
“I didn’t know her very much before I came here, so I really got to know her on this summer tour,” Lamaze stated. “What I found out about her is that she is absolutely 100% reliable. She really wants to stay off the fences. She gets a little excited and moves right to left very quickly sometimes, so it took me a little bit to adjust to her, but she’s a total class horse for the 1.50m division. Who knows what else is in the future for her, but at this height I feel like I’m on the very best horse I can have for this.”
Fine Lady came to Artisan Farms when Lamaze needed a horse to fill the 1.50m speed classes in his string of top mounts, and the purchase has proved to be an excellent investment. Although they have only done a few jump-off rounds together, Lamaze knew he could trust his horse completely.
“It was wide open, and she’s really careful,” he stated. “The double was the trick to jump after the long gallop from one to two. I knew if McLain was to be clear, I was going to have a harder night. He had an unfortunate four faults, so things became a little bit easier. With one time fault to beat, I felt pretty good about things, but you never know about things in this sport. You could have the first jump down, the last fence, a light rub and it comes down. It’s not because all you have to do is go clear that it works every single time. I’m very happy with the result. I felt that I was on the right horse to accomplish this mission.”
“The great thing about this mare is that she is really fast, and she goes fast, but you can always push,” Lamaze added. “That’s why she is so good. Great horses, it doesn’t matter how fast you get to the fence, if they’re asking for leg when you get there, they are very competitive horses. In the jump-off tonight, I didn’t really have to hold her back. She always asks for more leg. I just sort of maintained a rhythm that I thought would be under the time allowed, and that’s all I had to do.”
After another great win, Lamaze looks forward to jumping Fine Lady 5 in Saturday’s $85,000 TD Cup 1.50m. He will also compete in the $210,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup 1.60m with Powerplay.
Kenny Can’t Be Beat
Ireland’s Darragh Kenny continued an incredible summer at Spruce Meadows with another win on Friday afternoon, this time taking the $33,500 Pepsi Challenge 1.45m aboard Hyperion Stud LLC’s Chin Quidam VDL, an eight-year-old KWPN stallion by Chin Chin x Quidam de Revel. Including Friday’s win, Kenny has now had eight individual FEI victories over the course of four weeks at Spruce Meadows as well as a team Nations Cup win for Ireland.
In Friday’s Pepsi Challenge, course designer Leopoldo Palacios set the track for 42 entries and saw 10 advance to the jump-off with four double clear rounds. Eric Lamaze went first over the short course with Artisan Farms LLC’s Check Picobello Z in 39.78 seconds, but Kenny stole the lead with Chin Quidam VDL in 35.63 seconds a few rounds later. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) then moved into second with Spy Coast Farm LLC’s Mimosa in 36.97 seconds. Last to go, Leslie Howard (USA) went for the clear round in 40.87 seconds with Moormann, Rolf u. Paul Schockemohle’s Balboa 6 to finish fourth. Frances Land (USA) had the time in hand with Vieanne in 35.21 seconds, but had four faults at the final fence to place fifth.
“I didn’t know what exactly I was doing when I went in the ring,” Kenny admitted after his round. “He’s very quick, and he’s very careful. I didn’t know if he was going to spook on the inside turn from one to two in the jump-off, but he didn’t at all. Everybody had said to me that it was going to be very difficult to do six strides to the double (combination), but I knew that he had such a big stride that it was going to be easy for him. I just cut inside, did the six, and then I knew I was one stride ahead at that stage, so then I just kept going. I tried to do seven to the last, but I got caught wide, so I had to do eight (strides), but it turned out to be good enough.”
“I was very lucky that Frances Land hit the last jump because she could have done 11 strides to the last jump and still beaten me,” Kenny added with a laugh.
Chin Quidam VDL is a breeding stallion for Hyperion Stud in Virginia. Kenny started riding the horse in Florida over the winter and has been stepping him up this summer.
“He’s a really, really nice horse, and he only started doing the 1.45m here at Spruce,” Kenny noted. “He has really come a long way. He won a national 1.45m here also and was second in another. Today was only his second time in the big ring, and he really performed well. He is quite competitive.”
In addition to his own success throughout the summer series, Kenny has coached many of his students to top ribbons. One student, Taylor Alexander, finished ninth with her horse G&C Flash in the Pepsi Challenge. Kenny explained that it is a big job to make sure all of his horses and riders are prepared in the same classes throughout the day, but showing together also keeps him on top of his game.
“For me, I really enjoy working with students,” he acknowledged. “I really enjoy helping people get to their goals in their careers. I know from my own experience, I ask nearly all the top riders questions all the time, so I think it’s good for my students that they also have someone that’s riding in the ring and can get on the horse and feel what they feel, and have an idea of what’s going on.”
“It’s a huge balance when you’re walking the course,” Kenny pointed out. “You have to teach every person differently because of how they ride and the horse that they are on. I really try in my training to individualize the horses. I don’t try to use the same idea for every horse. I see what each horse needs to improve on and do that, whether it’s my own horses or my clients’ horses.”
Porter Wins Big with Diamonte Darco
Twenty-year-old Wilton Porter (USA) got his first International win at Spruce Meadows Friday morning riding Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s Diamonte Darco in the $33,500 Friends of the Meadows 1.45m. Porter got the nine-year-old mare, a Great Britain Sport Horse by Unbelievable Darco, this winter. The pair first showed in Florida for a few months and then traveled to Europe in May before starting up in Calgary last week. Jumping in the world-renowned International Ring, they made their first win together a big one.
Forty-three entries showed in the first competition of the day with nine clear rounds to advance to the jump-off. Porter and Diamonte Darco had the advantage of being last to go over the short course. When no one else was able to finish without fault, they only had the round of two time faults in 52.37 seconds from Christine McCrea and Candy Tribble’s Win For Life to beat. Porter explained that he thought he was almost not fast enough, but he galloped down to the final fence and jumped clear in 50.33 seconds to take top honors.
“It was a good jump-off to go last in,” the rider smiled. “I was right at the in-gate when Chris went, and I watched her round. It wasn’t super slow, but it wasn’t all out. I knew that I didn’t need to race and have a rail down because I was trying to go too fast. Actually, once I started doing the course and I was coming around to the second to last jump, I thought, ‘I’m pretty slow. I might be slower than her.’ So I had to kind of race to the last (jump), but it was a wall. Horses tend to back themselves off of that, so it worked out well.”
“It’s really exciting,” Porter said of his momentous win. “I have been coming to Spruce for four years and competing in the International Ring for three years. I have had some good placings in here, but I had not gotten that victory yet, so it is really special to have all of the hard work pay off.”
Porter was also excited to get the win with a relatively new horse in Diamonte Darco. He had a great round in the competition with his veteran partner Paloubet as well, but had one time fault to finish just out of the ribbons.
Porter explained that the mare has been gradually stepping up to bigger classes, and that although she is only nine years old and a little green at this level of competition, she handled it very well.
“She’s pretty fiery; a fiery personality, and she’s definitely very sensitive,” he said of the ride. “I have adjusted to that. She is very different from my other horse, Paloubet, who is really strong and powerful. I am just sort of trying to hold on to him, whereas with her, it is more of a finesse to it. She’s very careful. The distance at the jump is very important for her.”
With a fantastic win under his belt, Porter has big plans for the rest of the summer. Diamonte Darco will travel to Kentucky to be his mount at the Adequan FEI North American Junior/Young Rider Championships while Paloubet will fly over to Europe to give Porter the ride in his first senior Nations Cup team on the United States Under 25 tour in Bratislava, Slovakia.
The ‘North American’ Tournament continues on Saturday with the $85,000 TD Cup 1.50m and the $210,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup 1.60m. For more information and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Spruce Meadows Media Services