CN International brings out best

DAVE DORMER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

There will be a new champion crowned at today's $1-million CN International.

It just might not be a brand-new champion.

With a half-dozen former winners in the field and defending champion Nick Skelton not competing after his horse, Arco, retired, today's event is wide open for anyone to win.

"I think it's the strongest field I've seen at Spruce Meadows in quite some years," said Eric Lamaze, who won the richest event in the sport of show-jumping in 2007.

"Some of the best horses in the world are here, the best riders," Lamaze continued. "And I think you're going to see some serious jumping."

Along with Lamaze, fellow Canadian Ian Allison has taken the title more than once, and other winners include Beezie Madden from the U.S., Jos Lansink from Belgium, Rodrigo Pessoa from Brazil, and Meredith Beerbaum from Germany.

Beerbaum was questionable for today as of last night, however, after taking a nasty spill from her mount Checkmate 4 when it clipped the final fence in the opening round of the BMO Nations Cup yesterday, landing heavily on her side.

After getting checked out at the Spruce Meadows clinic, Beerbaum was taken to Calgary to see a doctor.

No further updates were available.

There were several crashes in yesterday's BMO Nation's Cup and Lamaze said he fully expects today's course will be just as tough.

"These are tricky fences to jump out there," he said.

"Those flat rails are not something we're used to seeing a lot, other than if you come to Spruce Meadows so it's always a challenge."

Coming into this week's competitions, Lamaze said it was important for him to get off to a strong start -- something he did by winning the $30,000 Zeidler Financial Cup on the opening day -- and his confidence has only gone up from there.

"I had a lot of confidence coming to the Nations Cup (yesterday), and I feel really good about (the International)," he said.

"I don't think (yesterday) took too much out of (Hickstead), and we're really looking forward to it."

The $1 million CN International goes at 1:15 p.m.

DAVE.DORMER@SUNMEDIA.CA


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