Canadian Olympic gold, silver and bronze medalist Eric Lamaze successfully defended his title with Fine Lady 5 to win the €100,000 Turkish Airlines Prize of Europe for the second year in a row on Wednesday, July 19, at CHIO Aachen, Germany.
Lamaze and his 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medal partner, Fine Lady 5, were one of 20 combinations from the original 60-horse starting field to qualify for the jump-off. It was a star-studded jump-off featuring numerous Olympic medalists but, when it comes to speed, few are faster than Lamaze and Fine Lady 5. The pair raced around the expansive grass arena, posting the winning time of 42.97 seconds to hold off four-time Olympic gold medalist Ludger Beerbaum of Germany, who stopped the timers in 43.05 seconds riding Chiara 22. Young Irish phenom Bertram Allen finished in 43.06 seconds for third place aboard Molly Malone V.
“She jumped amazing!” said Lamaze of the 14-year-old bay Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) owned by Andy and Carlene Ziegler of Artisan Farms in partnership with Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable. “To win here in Aachen is very prestigious, especially for a Canadian, and it’s very special to win two years in a row. You don’t ever forget competing at Aachen with all of its history, and you certainly don’t ever forget winning.”
Of the track set by course designer Frank Rothenberger of Germany, Lamaze commented, “The course was big, and included a pair of double liverpools that caused a lot of problems. When we first walked it, a lot of riders thought it was too big for the first day, but you have the best in the world competing here and ended up with 20 in the jump-off.”
Lamaze arrived in Aachen, Germany, following four weeks of competition at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, AB. During the final week of competition, Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 placed third in the $500,000 CSI5* ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup, earning enough prize money for Lamaze to surpass $5 million in career earnings at the Calgary venue alone.
“For the horses that jumped in Calgary in similar conditions, they arrived here in Aachen ready to go,” said Lamaze, who divides his time between training bases in Wellington, FL, and Brussels, Belgium. “It is fantastic to have a venue like Spruce Meadows. Fine Lady didn’t win anything in Calgary but she was close a few times, and she gave me a lot of confidence coming into today’s competition.”
Last year, Lamaze used Aachen as his final event before the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and opted not to compete in the highlight event, the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen. This year, he has a different strategy, and will now rest Fine Lady 5 in preparation for Sunday’s feature. Part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Lamaze won the Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen in 2010 riding the great Hickstead, despite breaking his foot during the competition.
In addition to Fine Lady 5, Lamaze is competing at Aachen with Chacco Kid, his 2015 Pan Am Games team gold medal partner Coco Bongo, and the eight-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare, Jewel 8.