Lamaze two-rrific

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

Eric Lamaze was two times better than the other riders in the Jump Off at the Kubota Big Ben Memorial Grand Prix yesterday.

He was better on Ronaldo and he was better yet on Hickstead.

After seven horses completed fault-free tours of the Conrad Homfeld designed course in the opening round, Lamaze guided Ronaldo to the double clear in 46.86 seconds.

Three competitors later, Lamaze was aboard Hickstead for another clear run, this one in a sizzling, 45.31 seconds. In beating himself, Lamaze secured a 1-2 finish.

"Ronaldo is not a very quick horse .... I thought I was very beatable on him, especially with Chris (Pratt) and (defending champ) Frankie (Chesler) with two horses still behind us," said Lamaze, a resident of Schomberg, who was also aboard Hickstead in victory last week and will confidently ride the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion at his fourth World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany next month. "I decided to go a little faster (on Hickstead), nothing crazy. It all worked out.

'VERY FAST HORSE'

"He's a very fast horse. At this point, we're just keeping him healthy and killing time. He's in form and as good a horse as anybody could have going into the World Cup."

While Lamaze collected $17,000 on Hickstead and $11,000 on Ronaldo, Pratt grabbed the third-place cheque of $5,000 on Rivendell. A Toronto native who now lives in Belfountain, the 37-year-old Pratt will be making his first appearance at the WEG, Aug. 20-Sept. 3.

"I know Rivendell can go faster," said Pratt, who took the 11-year-old Westphalian gelding on a fault-free 48.85 run in the Jump Off. "My focus is on the World Cup, and I just wanted to keep him jumping at his best. The World Cup has been a goal of mine since I first started riding. It's something, when friends would say, 'Do you want to go to the Olympics?' I'd say no, the World Cup is bigger. It's an awesome competition."

Finishing fourth yesterday and picking up $5,000 was Lauren Hunken, who rode Orleans. The 26-year-old Hunken moved to Perth from her parents' home near Toronto four years ago, so she could train with the great Ian Millar.

"Mainly, he told me to keep it simple and play my own game," Hunken said of the advice Millar gave her heading into the Jump Off, during which she knocked over one rail. "This was my biggest finish, for sure. (Orleans) was quite a horse and it was wonderful fun. It was very exciting for me to be out there with the riders that are here."

While Darrin Dlin rode Catwalk to a fifth-place finish, last year's winners -- Chesler and Vdl Nuit De Pomme -- wound up sixth. Chesler was also aboard Picolien Zeldenrust in the Jump Off, finishing seventh.

Ian Millar was 13th, on Promise Me, just behind his daughter Amy, who missed qualifying for the Jump Off when her mount, Costa Rica Z, knocked over the last rail in the opening round.


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