Lamaze eyes big bonus

Eric Lamaze jumps his horse Hickstead during the Nations' Cup at the Spruce Meadows Masters....

Eric Lamaze jumps his horse Hickstead during the Nations' Cup at the Spruce Meadows Masters. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:11 PM ET

It’s been a painful week for Eric Lamaze, but he hasn’t lost sight of what lies ahead.

Fracturing his foot during the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen in Germany in July has the Canadian show-jumping king at a bit of a disadvantage for the Spruce Meadows Masters’ final day.

Heading into Sunday’s CN International Grand Prix with a chance to limp away with as much as $800,000 in prize money after winning two of the first three legs of the CN Precision Series this summer, the unlucky break couldn’t come at a worst time.

The good news is he claimed 350,000 Euros — nearly $460,000 — in that Aachen Grand Prix after breaking his foot in the opening round.

“So it was worth it,” Lamaze joked this week.

Fractured during a landing, Lamaze had a screw inserted in his left foot and is wearing a stiff walking boot whenever he’s not in the saddle.

“I’m definitely favouring landing on my right foot. I’m trying to avoid putting pressure on the left as much as possible,” he said. “Whenever you have time to think about it, you definitely try to land that way, but there’s times where you just don’t have time to think about it.

“It’s not the most comfortable way of landing, but it’s the way it’s going to be for me for a little bit now until it completely heals, which is going to take some time.”

The injury requires a little more attention before he enters the ring. He tries to keep it as still as possible — a tough task when you’re saddled on a massive horse leaping over jumps as high as 1.70 metres.

“I just tape the foot together so it stays tight and there’s no rotation,” Lamaze said.

“It’s the rolling of the foot that aggravates it. I got special stirrups that are fitted to my boots, so there’s not a lot of room, on each side of the stirrups for the feet to do that. That helps.”

He saddled up in Spain recently to test out the foot and was less than his usual stellar self at the Masters this week until going double-clear for Canada in Saturday’s Nations’ Cup to help them to a third-place finish.

Having won the CN Reliability Grand Prix and ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup this summer, a victory in Sunday’s CN International Grand Prix would hand him a $450,000 bonus on top of the $350,000 first-place cheque and a brand new Mercedes Benz — hopefully an automatic, because popping the clutch in that boot might be tough.

The bonus for the triple — which has never been done before — is massive and motivating, but Lamaze isn’t the only one who sees it that way.

“I think the event of the day is very important to every rider. I think it’s a grand prix that every rider dreams of winning. The prize money is one of the richest that exists, so that alone, it’s a very special day. It’s a day we take very seriously,” Lamaze said.

“The added bonus ... for me, the competition itself is enough to get your adrenaline pumping.”

Lamaze had a shot at the three-leg bonus in 2008, the year he won Olympic gold with Hickstead in Beijing.

“I had the last fence down in the second round of that day. I had the bicycle down the last fence, and if I would have cleared that, I would have had a jump-off I think with (winner) Nick Skelton,” recalled Lamaze.

“I had a chance that day, but it wasn’t meant to be. I get another chance this year. Let’s face it, it’s a competition everybody wants to win, but if you’re first, second or third, you get a great payday and you’re gonna go home happy.”

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos