Eric Lamaze Wins $30,000 WEF Challenge
WELLINGTON, FL, March 7 -
Heavy thunderstorms which prompted the rescheduling of Thursday night’s $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round VII gave way to sunny skies on Friday morning for the 8 a.m. start of the competition, which also acted as the fourth United States Show Jumping Team Selection Trial for the 2008 Olympic Games. Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, Ontario, Canada, won the class while Laura Kraut of Wellington, Fla., maintained her position at the top of the Selection Trial standings during the CSIO5* CN Wellington Open, week eight of the CN Winter Equestrian Festival, presented by Zimmerman Advertising, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Course designer Jose Gamarra of Bolivia set a large track which only produced three clear rounds. Two of those rounds belonged to Selection Trial candidates Chris Kappler of Pittstown, N.J., and VDL Oranta and Will Simpson of Thousand Oaks, Calif., with Carlsson vom Dach. Both Kappler and Simpson opted not to return for the jump-off, instead saving their horses for Sunday’s fifth and final Selection Trial. Their withdrawal from the jump-off automatically gave the win to Lamaze and Sadin, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Ashland Stables Inc.
“Thank you to Will and Chris,” smiled Lamaze, 39. “My horse jumped well, we’ve been keeping him in the back and waiting for a bigger class to put him in and this fit the plan. I’m just happy that it’s a Trial for the Americans and they wanted to save their horses, which is the right thing to do.”
Following the fourth Selection Trial, Kraut, 42, maintained her position as the leader with a score of six faults. Riding Cedric, Kraut incurred four faults in Friday’s competition, bringing down fence number seven, a tall yellow vertical situated four strides after the triple combination. It was the first fence that Kraut had incurred over four rounds of jumping with the 10-year-old grey German-bred gelding owned by Happy Hill Farm.
“It is nerve-wracking, I am not used to being in the lead,” laughed Kraut, a 2000 Olympian. “He feels amazing; every day he’s getting more relaxed jumping these jumps. I will be happy when Sunday is over.”
Tied for second place in the Selection Trial standings with 12 faults each are Will and Nicole Simpson. Will Simpson has now jumped clear the last three Selection Trials, carrying forward only the 12 faults from the opening round with Carlsson vom Dach, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding and owned by El Campeon Farms.
“I got a good night’s sleep and everything went well this morning,” said Will Simpson, 48, who has moved up from sixth position following the third Selection Trial into a tie for second. “He’s jumped rub-free round after round, he’s come to party. I’ve been trying to get him to peak here, and he’s responding.”
Simpson, who traveled across the country to contest the Trials, noted of his position going into the final Trial, “It’s easy to handle pressure when you’re riding a horse like this. He gives you confidence.”
Nicole Simpson incurred four faults on Friday morning with SRF Dragonfly to bring her four-round total to 12 faults as well. The performance of Silver Raven Farm’s bay mare has come as a surprise to Nicole Simpson, who only began riding the mare at the beginning of the CN Winter Equestrian Festival.
“This was not really part of the plan,” said Nicole Simpson, who is no longer contesting the Trials with her other entry, Vicomte D. “I just started riding her on this circuit, she was ridden by someone in California before, and I started her in
some smaller classes. The owners really believe in her, and I am thrilled with her. She’s really risen to the occasion. As she’s gone along, she’s been really confident.”
The fifth and final Selection Trial will be Sunday’s $150,000 CN US Open Jumping Championship, presented by Cosequin. At the conclusion, a total of 10 horse-rider combinations will be named to a pre-Olympic European tour. Beezie Madden’s Authentic and McLain Ward’s Sapphire were given byes before the Selection Trials began while Jeffery Welles and Armani were granted a bye following the second Selection Trial.
The CSIO5* CN Open also features Friday night’s $75,000 FEI Nations’ Cup, presented by CN, the only Nations’ Cup team competition held in the United States.
Results of Class 102 - $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round VII
1 - 5776 SADIN
ERIC LAMAZE CAN 0.00 91.36 0.00 1.00 ASHLAND STABLES
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