Canada’s Eric Lamaze Scores Second Wellington Grand Prix Victory
WELLINGTON, FL, Feb. 24 -
Canada’s Eric Lamaze won his second Sunday Grand Prix of the season by scoring victory in the $75,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic/Adequan Grand Prix held Sunday, February 24, to conclude week six, rated a CSI3* by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), of the CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
During the third week of the CN Winter Equestrian Festival, Lamaze of Schomberg, Ont., guided Narcotique de Muze II to victory in the $50,000 Smart for Life Grand Prix CSI2*. On Sunday, he returned to the ring aboard Hickstead, his Team Silver and Individual Bronze medal partner at last year’s Pan American Games, and was the first rider to post a clear round over the course designed by Germany’s Olaf Petersen Jr.
Of the 50 other horse-rider combinations to attempt the technical track which included a difficult double combination set at fence 12ab, only three jumped clear to join Lamaze in the jump-off.
Lamaze, currently ranked number six in the world, opened the jump-off with a clear round in a time of 47.30 seconds. Fellow Canadian Darrin Dlin, riding the Canadian-bred mare Catwalk, was next into the International Arena. The pair was on the time, but a rail down at the final fence in a time of 47.67 seconds left them third overall.
Marilyn Little and the grey Unika were next up after repairing a shoe but ran into all sorts of trouble with early rails and a refusal at the final fence for a final tally of 33 faults - 16 jumping and 17 time.
As the final challenger, only Nicole Simpson of Wellington, FL, could catch Lamaze, but it became apparent that she was going for a slow and steady double clear with Vicomte D. Leaving all the rails in place and crossing the timers in 53.39 seconds, Simpson took second place for owner Jane Clark.
The lion’s share of the prize money, $22,500 for first place, went to Lamaze and Hickstead, owned by Ashland Stables of Wellington, FL. The $75,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic/Adequan Grand Prix marked the first Sunday Grand Prix that Hickstead had contested since undergoing colic surgery at the beginning of October.
“It’s his first grand prix of the year, and it was a good jump-off for him because he is quick across the ground,” said Lamaze, 39, of the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion sired by Hamlet. “He is so careful that the faster you run, the more clever he is over the poles. It was a good grand prix for him, it wasn’t overly big but it was technical. And he really likes the surface.”
“He feels good, he’s full of energy,” continued Lamaze, whose focus for the competition season with Hickstead is a berth at the 2008 Olympic Games. In September, the pair won the $1 million CN International, the richest Grand Prix event in the world, at the Spruce Meadows “Masters” Tournament in Calgary, Canada.
The Olympic Games are also the focus of runner-up Simpson and her mount, Vicomte D, an 11-year-old Belgian-bred gelding. The pair will contest the United States Show Jumping Team Selection Trials for the 2008 Olympic Games beginning on Thursday, February 28.
“I knew I wouldn’t beat Eric, so I just wanted to have a nice double clear. He says his time was beatable, but I didn’t want to take any major chances or risks going into the Trials,” said Simpson, 33, who began riding Vicomte D in November, taking over the reins from Molly Ashe who is expecting her first child.
Week Seven, the Zada Enterprises, LLC CSI3*-W opens on Wednesday, February 27. Featured events include the $30,000 WEF Challenge Series Round VI on Thursday and Sunday’s $100,000 Zada Enterprises, LLC Masters Cup, which acts as a World Cup Qualifying event for the 2008 World Cup Final in Goteborg, Sweden. Both competitions will also act as U.S. Show Jumping Team Selection Trials for the 2008 Olympic Games. Christa Heibach of Germany will be the course designer in the International Arena while 2008 Olympic co-course designer, Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela, will handle duties in the DeNemethy Arena.
Results of Class 101 - $75,000 Palm Beach Equine Clinic/ Adequan Grand Prix CSI3*
1 - 7476 HICKSTEAD
ERIC LAMAZE CAN 0.00 80.98 0.00 47.30 ASHLAND STABLES & TORREY PINES
Results of Class 1025 - $15,000 Amateur/Owner Jumper Classic - High (SJHOF)
1 - 1044 U-2
MARLEY GOODMAN 0.00 76.176 0.00 34.960 MARLEY GOODMAN
The 2008 CN Winter Equestrian Festival attracts the best horses and riders from around the world to Wellington and offers more than $5 million in prize money. For more information, visit www.equestriansport.com