Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON had the crowd on the edge of their seats as he sped to a bronze medal finish in a six-horse jump-off on Aug. 19 at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, BRA.
Nick Skelton of Great Britain won gold after riding Big Star to a clear jump-off in the fastest time of 42.82 seconds. Peder Fredricson of Sweden and All In were close behind with a clear performance in 43.35 seconds.
Riding Fine Lady 5 (Forsyth x Drosselklang II), a 13-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Artisan Farms LLC and Torrey Pines Stable, Lamaze crossed the timers in the fastest time of 42.09 seconds, but incurred four faults for a toe on a 1.60m vertical off a tight roll-back turn.
Incredibly, the rail was the only one Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 incurred throughout five rounds of competition over four days. Lamaze adds his bronze medal to a collection that includes individual gold and team silver from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, giving him the record for the most medals won by a Canadian in equestrian sport.
“I’m amazed with what (Fine Lady 5) can do and I’m very, very happy – she really jumped from the heart,” said Lamaze, 48, who was the only rider of the Games to head into the individual final on a perfect score of zero. “She’s just incredible and is jumping with a lot of power and carefulness. So many things have to go right to be here with a medal around your neck. I’m very satisfied.”
Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 also led the Canadian Show Jumping Team, comprised of Yann Candele of Caledon, ON, Tiffany Foster from North Vancouver, BC and Amy Millar of Perth, ON, to a fourth place team finish after forcing a jump-off for bronze with Germany on Aug. 17.
“The Olympics are one of the most difficult things that we come across in our sport, and I think we all tried our hardest to do the best we can and we really appreciate what our horses do for us,” commented Lamaze.
Impressively, Canada was represented by three riders in the individual final, with Candele and Foster being invited forward as part of the top 35 after three qualifying rounds. Foster and Tripple X III (Namelus R x Cantango), a 14-year-old Anglo European stallion owned by Artisan Farms LLC and Torrey Pines Stable, were working on a foot-perfect round over the track set by Guilherme Jorge of Brazil until the very last fence, when the back rail of an oxer fell for four faults.
With Foster going early in the order, the performances by the remainder of the field determined whether she would advance as part of the top 20 (including ties) to Round ‘B’ of the individual final. After many rails were dropped and time faults incurred, Foster and Tripple X III were given the green light to move forward as part of the total field of 27.
Unfortunately the previous five rounds, plus the team jump-off, had taken their toll and the duo had four rails plus a time fault for a final score of 17 faults. This brought their final placing at the Games to 26th.
“I’ve never ridden in the individual final of any championship, so I’m still so happy,” said Foster, 32, who also represented Canada at the London 2012 Olympic Games. “(Tripple X III) just felt pretty tired – he really jumps from his heart, and I just felt like he was a little bit cooked. But, I couldn’t be happier with him and I couldn’t be happier with our whole team. I had a great Olympics, and I’m so happy.”
Candele, 48, was tied for 18th heading into the individual final aboard First Choice 15 (For Keeps x Angard), a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by The Watermark Group. After one rail fell at the ‘b’ element of a 1.60m triple combination, along with a late rail at fence 11, the duo closed out their Olympic debut in a tie for 32nd place.
“Basically I was a little bit off the pace, but it was a good experience at the end of the day,” said Candele, who is a team gold medalist from the 2015 Pan American Games. “We’re where we want to be. It’s the first Olympics for me, so for me to do the individual, that is a bonus for the future.”
During the Games, the Canadian Show Jumping Team was supported by Chef d’Équipe, Mark Laskin, Team Manager, Karen Hendry-Ouellette and Team Veterinarian, Dr. Sylvie Surprenant.
The Canadian Equestrian Team thanks the Government of Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Own the Podium for their support on the road to the Games.