|Eric Lamaze of Canada jumps his horse Hickstead over the water jump during the CN International Grand Prix. (REUTERS/Todd Korol)
He'd kick himself, but with only one good leg, he'd fall over.
A broken left foot finally caught up with Eric Lamaze, and it cost him nearly $700,000.
The Canadian show jumping king was the last rider out in the second round of the CN International Grand Prix at the Spruce Meadows Mastsers with a chance to win the $325,000 top prize and a $450,000 bonus after claiming two of the previous three legs of the CN Precision Series this summer.
He and horse Hickstead had to go fault-free under the time allowed to get the best of Dutch rider Jeroen Dubbeldam after both went clear during the first round and Dubbeldam took just a single time fault aboard BMC Van Grunsven Simon in the second.
But after his third jump, Lamaze passed by the combination at No. 4 before circling back around to attempt it and complete the course.
Game over. Dubbeldam was the winner. The crowd was stunned.
"I've been trying to protect my left foot the whole week, trying to land on my right stirrup. The fences just got big, just got too big," Lamaze said after finishing third and taking $100,000 for his effort. "I landed right and my left stirrup just slipped my foot -- really in the wrong place because there was no way to recover.
"You circle, you put your pedals back on and you carry on and you hope for the best result you can get that day."
Keeping him from becoming the first person to win three of the series legs was Dubbeldam, who completed his own version of the triple.
He took individual gold at the 2000 Olympic Games, and won the coveted Grand Prix of Aachen in 2001. Now, he has the CN International Grand Prix title, too.
"I didn't mention it before this class because then you put the pressure up too high. I kept it to myself," he said of his quest to add the coveted Spruce Meadows Masters title.
"These are three classes you want to win. I'm very proud of it."
It was a much better finale for Dubbeldam than his last time here in 1999.
"I was eliminated in the grand prix. I didn't even get my $3,500," he said with a laugh. "On the plane back I was sitting next to Rene Tebbel and he won the grand prix."
American Richard Spooner finished second Sunday and pocketed $200,000 after taking down the final rail in the second round.
"I was concerned with the time allowed and I had a feeling I was on the edge," Spooner said. "With Eric coming, I felt the odds were slim he was going to have a time fault. I went to the last jump a little disheveled, quite frankly. I think I rushed it."
Both he and Dubbeldam were scared of what Lamaze could do. In the end, the Canadian's health cost him a shot at a record payday.
But all three can be proud of what they accomplished.
"There's no shame to be third in this event, especially to Jeroen and Richard," said Lamaze. "We get here, if somebody gives you third place in the CN, you're happy.
"Financially, it was not as successful for me as much as it could have been today, but to be third in this event, I am very, very happy about that."