September 12, 2011
Lamaze captures Grand Prix
By ROD KELLY, QMI Agency
It wasn’t more than a minute after Canadian show-jumping superstar Eric Lamaze pulled off his latest feat that the accolades started to stream in.
“There has to be a movie made about this,” read one post on the wall of Lamaze’s official Facebook site.
“You deserve this Eric,” read another.
“Goose bumps,” were the words chosen by another proud supporter of Lamaze following the Canadian equestrian star’s latest win in international competition.
Lamaze, the 2008 Olympic show-jumping gold medallist, and his Dutch Warmblood stallion, Hickstead, were again in perfect form at the Masters tournament at Spruce Meadows Sunday afternoon.
They went double-clear on a difficult Leopoldo Palacios-designed course to win the prestigious $1-million CN International Grand Prix.
After successfully completing his final jump of the day, a jubilant Lamaze rested his head on Hickstead’s side.
He then took the horse he calls “the best in the world” on a celebratory victory lap, much to the delight of the crowd taking in the wrapup event at this year’s Masters.
“To win this. And to win here,” Lamaze said.
“I mean, it’s special.
“I don’t come to Canada very often to compete. I come in the summertime. I find myself being in Europe all the time, and that’s great. But this is the Grand Prix, when I was a kid, I dreamed of winning,” Lamaze said.
“You never know what the outcome will be. But when you have a great horse that tries so hard, you want this title to be attached to his name as many times as possible.
“Sure, the money is great, but there’s more to it than that for me,” said Lamaze, who was also the Grand Prix champion at the Masters in 2007.
“This is the best horse in the world, in my opinion, and to show it to all these fans here is special ... This is for all the fans, too.”
In what’s become habit for Lamaze and Hickstead, the dynamite duo was again flawless in both the first and second rounds of competition under perfect conditions Sunday afternoon.
In Saturday’s $350,000 BMO Nations’ Cup, it was only Lamaze who went double-clear in helping Canada claim a silver medal in the team event.
In the 36-rider CN showdown, again it was only he who was able to pull off two consecutive fault-free runs.
All told, the Schomberg, Ont., rider earned $385,000 for his efforts in the Sunday matinee event.
Of that, $325,000 was the first-place payout in the CN Grand Prix. Lamaze earned an additional $60,000, too — a $50,000 payday for winning his second event in this year’s CN Precision Series, and $10,000 as the top Canadian rider in Sunday’s CN International.
In the Grand Prix’s opening round Sunday, Lamaze led the way with an error-free 84.76 showing, a clocking that put him in the No. 1 spot going into the 12-rider second round.
In Round 2, there was no letting up, as Lamaze and Hickstead again clocked a quick and clear time, this one a 66.41.
Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels was second on the day, earning $200,000 aboard NASA, a 10-year-old Selle Francais mare.
Third place and $100,000 went to Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs, who rode Principal 12, a 15-year-old Mecklenberg gelding.
Fuchs, just 19 years of age, couldn’t hold back his joy after claiming the hard-fought third-place ribbon.
“I’m really proud,” Fuchs said. “This is a special day — maybe one of the best in my life.”