Frisky biz for great gelding

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

Riding Hickstead has always meant success for Eric Lamaze.

It's also always come with an extra degree of difficulty.

Being a stallion, Hickstead -- Lamaze's superstar mount with which he won Olympic gold and silver last year -- has always had some extra spirit as opposed to your regular gelding.

Now, the horse's owners, Lamaze's Torrey Pines Stables and the Florida-based Ashland Stables, are breeding Hickstead.

As a result, the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood is even friskier.

"Yeah, he's a bit naughtier than he used to be," Lamaze said with a laugh.

"He has a bit more character than he had. That's why we never bred him before the Olympics. We knew once he would start to breed, he would be harder to handle.

"He still jumps great and everything else, but around the barn and things like that, he's a little more awake than he was. It took us a little to get used to how to train him for that.

"Now he's in good form, so I can't wait to get started here."

The good news for horse jumping fans is the potential of a Hickstead offspring.

That would be down the road. Starting today at the Spruce Meadows National, they'll be able to enjoy the real thing.

After another great season in Europe, Lamaze and Hickstead arrived for this week's tournament, as well as the whole summer season, hoping to continue their domination.

Pick a major event at Spruce Meadows over the last few years, and be rest assured they won it. In fact, the number of rails Hickstead has knocked down the past few seasons can be counted on one hand.

"He's in really good form," said Lamaze of the horse with which he placed second at the Madrid Grand Prix late last month.

While Lamaze is here with his usual strong stable, he arrived with another mount of note.

Lord du Janlie, a 10-year-old bay gelding, is finally the derby horse he's been looking for over the last few years. They combined for third at the Derby La Baule, which has Lamaze looking forward to Sunday's Nexen Cup.

"It's quite a difficult derby, part of the Super League," Lamaze said of the event at La Baule. "He jumped really well, so I'm excited to do the derby stuff here with him.

"It's been a long time since I've had a horse to do the derby."

Still, it will take an impressive performance to top the 2008 season for Lamaze, who is ranked third in the world after being as high as No. 1 in early January.

He was named the nation's male athlete of the year at the Canadian Sport Awards as well as Equine Canada's equestrian of the year.

"It's hard to top last year, it was a dream season, but we've still got some goals ahead of us and the horses are jumping," he said.

At least he's been able to allow all those exciting accomplishments -- plus the redemption of his past drug-testing incidents which cost him trips to two previous Olympics -- sink in.

"We found a horse that's magical and magical things happened. There are horses, and then there's Hickstead."


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