Defending Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, is currently tied for first place in the individual rankings following the opening day of show jumping competition at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Lamaze, 44, was one of 32 riders to jump clear in the first individual and team qualifying event held Saturday, August 4. Lamaze, who lost his Olympic Champion partner Hickstead last November, is riding the newcomer Derly Chin de Muze, owned by Ashland Stables and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable.
“It’s good to have a clear round behind me,” said Lamaze of his performance with the nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare. “I couldn’t have asked for a better day with a young horse.”
Lamaze and his inexperienced mount were competing in front of a packed stadium of 21,000 spectators at the Olympic equestrian venue of Greenwich Park.
“For me, it was great to get her in the stadium and see how she reacted,” said Lamaze, who is making his second Olympic appearance. “Today we read her well with how much to work her in the warm-up, and she gave me a good effort. It’s great to start with zero faults, and to have that confidence.”
Setting a world record in his tenth Olympic appearance, Ian Millar, 65, of Perth, ON, had one rail down at fence 11. He is currently tied for 42nd position from the starting field of 75.
“One less rail would have been good, but he reacted to the ring and the ambiance,” said Millar of Star Power, an 11-year-old Dutch-bred gelding owned by Team Works. “Horses sense the atmosphere, and he walked in here and was a little over-impressed. He’ll relax and ease into it.”
Henselwood of Oxford Mills, ON, incurred four faults for a rail down at the ‘b’ element of the double combination at fence three, which proved to be one of the most problematic elements on the course designed by Bob Ellis of Great Britain. She also barely exceeded the 82-second time allowed, stopping the clock at 82.02 seconds, for one time penalty. With a total of five faults, Henselwood is tied for 53rd place with George, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Brian Gingras.
“Whether I go first or last doesn’t change anything for me mentally, but what it doesn’t give me is the library of information,” said Henselwood, 49, who, as Canada’s lead-off rider, was only the fourth competitor out on course. “I didn’t get to see anyone else go – George doesn’t stand at the ingate! Had I watched and been a little later, I would have done seven strides instead of six (to the double combination at fence three).”
In her Olympic debut, Tiffany Foster, 27, of Schomberg, ON, had two rails for eight faults and is currently tied for 60th position in the individual standings. Foster’s rails came at the back rail of the ‘a’ element of the double combination at fence three, and the back element of the ‘a’ element of the double combination at fence 12.
“There’s always tomorrow, and I’m going to let him have a little more energy,” said Foster of her training preparations for Sunday’s events, noting that she was not sure how Victor, her 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by the Ziegler family’s Artisan Farms and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable, would react to the stadium environment. “Our team is very cohesive and everyone is relaxed. They are all the veterans and I am the baby.”
Henselwood, Millar and Lamaze were all members of the Canadian Olympic Team for Show Jumping that won the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Of Canada’s chances in the team competition, Millar said, “Jill and Tiffany will get in the groove; Jill’s horse is temperamental and should be better tomorrow. Eric is going to do what Eric does, and that is to perform superbly. I’m optimistic that Star Power will just relax into it as we get further along.”
Show Jumping competition continues on Sunday and Monday, August 5 and 6, after which team medals will be awarded. Both rounds of competition also count towards the individual standings. The top 35 athletes from the original starting field of 75 will advance to the two-round Individual Final on Wednesday, August 8, where they will all start with a clean slate of zero penalties.
The Canadian Olympic Team for Show Jumping is supported by Chef d’Equipe Terrance Millar; Assistant Chef d’Equipe Mark Laskin; Veterinarian Dr. Sylvie Surprenant; Stable Manager Lori Green; and Team Manager Karen Hendry-Ouellette. Grooms include Cristian Canobbio (Foster), Jessica Dooley (Henselwood), Delphine Rouston (Lamaze), Sandy Patterson (Millar) and Anne-Sophie Canut (Candele). Kerri McGregor is the Team Leader for the Canadian Olympic Team for Equestrian and Tina Collins is Assistant Team Leader.
For more information, including live scoring and results, please visit the equestrian sport section of the official 2012 London Olympic Games website at www.london2012.com/equestrian.