Lamaze reclaims Grand Prix title

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:46 PM ET

CALGARY — Ian Millar and In Style weren’t around to defend their title.

So, Eric Lamaze reclaimed it.

Lamaze was clean and fast in the five-rider jump-off to win the $200,000 CN Reliability Grand Prix Saturday afternoon for the second time in three years aboard Hickstead at the Spruce Meadows National.

Millar’s mount is nursing an injury, and Captain Canada didn’t want to rush any of his other horses into the big ring before they were ready.

Only Federico Fernandez and Lamaze were able to go double-clear, and the 2008 CN Reliabilty champ clocked in almost two seconds faster to take the $66,000 first-place prize.

But there were a few moments Lamaze wasn’t sure if he’d even be in the short round. Four faults were posted when his first round was complete, with everyone scracthing their heads trying to figure out what he might have done wrong.

“The only thing I could have touched that sometimes a rider is not always sure they cleared is the water,” said Lamaze. “But there’s a certain noise it makes when you step on the tape that you can hear.

“It felt like he jumped a great water. That’s the only thing I could see, so I was disappointed for a short time.”

The score was quickly corrected, to the chagrin of his pal Fernandez, who was so close to what would have been his biggest victory at Spruce Meadows. Only Lamaze was left to challenge his double clear, and Fernandez was confident.

“I was completely sure that he was going to beat me,” Fernandez said with a laugh. “He’s a great friend, but he’s also probably the best rider in the world and he’s a perfect couple with Hickstead.

“I was hoping my friend Eric would be a little bit passionate about me and have a rail down.

“Someday maybe he’ll have a rail down.”

Only a handful cleared course designer Werner Deeg’s long and challenging circuit that offered a few loud refusals, plenty of falling rails and even one ejection.

Georgina Bloomberg — daughter of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg — was tossed to the ground when her mount Metropolitan came down on the first of a combination oxer flanked by imitation train engines.

John Pearce, who finished third aboard Chianto, was up to the challenge, along with Fernandez and New Zealanders Katie McVean and Guy Thomas. And, of course, so were Lamaze and Hickstead.

“Hickstead’s always perfect,” Lamaze said with a laugh as Pearce prodded him to tell the gathering what he said earlier his 14-year-old stallion should have been called.

“I said his name should have been ATM.”

Lamaze is definitely cashing in.

Another big payday has him inching ever closer to second spot on the Spruce Meadows’ all-time prize money list.

RESULTS

CN Reliability Grand Prix - 1.60M

1. Eric Lamaze (Hickstead) $66,000

2. Federico Fernandez (Zorro) $40,000

3. John Pearce (Chianto) $25,000

4. Katie McVean (Delphi) $20,000

5. Guy Thomas (Carino) $15,500

6. Beezie Madden (Coral Reef via Volo) $8,250

7. Mario Deslauriers (Vicomte D) $6,000

8. Pablo Barrios (G&C Quick Star) $4,300

9. Daniel Bluman (Fatalis Fatum) $3,300

10. Brianne Goutal (Onira) $3,000

11. Will Simpson (Archie Bunker) $2,050

12. Christopher Lowe (Jackpot) $1,000

*Top five qualified for jump-off


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