Canadian Olympic Show Jumping Champion Eric Lamaze and his student, Tiffany Foster, both of Schomberg, ON, have been nominated to the Canadian Olympic Committee for review and naming to the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team for show jumping.
Lamaze, 44, made his Olympic debut in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, becoming the first Canadian equestrian athlete to win an individual gold medal, while Foster, 28, has never before represented Canada in Olympic competition. Other athletes nominated to the Canadian Olympic Committee for show jumping are Yann Candele, Jill Henselwood, and Ian Millar.
Lamaze is in the unique position of being nominated with two horses, Derly Chin de Muze and Verdi. Both horses are new to Lamaze, having been acquired in December of 2011 following the tragic death of his Olympic championship partner, Hickstead, on November 6.
Derly Chin de Muze is now under the ownership of Ashland Stables and Torrey Pines Stable, the same owners as Hickstead. Formerly ridden by Ashley Fleischhacker, the Fleischhacker family generously passed the reins to Lamaze in support of his Olympic quest. Lamaze and the nine-year-old chestnut Belgian Warmblood mare (For Pleasure x Nabab de Reve) were members of the Canadian Team for the Nations’ Cup held March 2 in Wellington, FL, turning in two faultless efforts.
Verdi is owned by Carlene and Andy Ziegler’s Artisan Farms in partnership with Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable. A 10-year-old grey Dutch Warmblood gelding (Heartbreaker x Mr. Blue), Verdi formerly competed under the saddle of Stephanie van den Brink of The Netherlands. Lamaze began competing with Verdi in international competition in May, placing third in the €150,000 Volvo Grand Prix held at CSI5* Madrid, Spain, on May 20.
“It is incredible to think that in such a short period of time, I am now in the position of having two horses to choose from,” said Lamaze, who suffered a devastating loss when Hickstead collapsed and died of a heart attack after completing the first round of world cup qualifying competition in Verona, Italy. “We thought Hickstead would be going to London to defend the title, so we didn’t really have a back-up in mind. With the help of my owners, we have done what I wasn’t sure was even possible with one horse, let alone two. Thanks to their incredible support and generosity, I am in the position of having two horses selected for this summer’s Olympic Games.”
The final decision on which horse Lamaze will ride will be made by July 4, the deadline for definite entries to the Canadian Olympic Committee.
“Both horses are young, but I really like them both,” said Lamaze. “I think I can definitely help the Canadian team be in contention and hopefully win a medal. Individually, I am dealing with younger horses and anything can happen. I do feel like I could have successfully defended the gold medal with Hickstead, but these are both great horses and anything is possible. For sure this year is important with the Olympics, but the most important thing is that both of these horses have big futures in front of them and are going to go on to have incredible careers.”
In 2008, Lamaze helped Canada claim the team silver medal, only the second Olympic team medal in its history, before going on to claim the individual gold.
Foster was in attendance at those 2008 Olympic Games, cheering on the Canadian team as well as Lamaze, her coach and mentor. Having broken her back in a riding accident that kept her out of the saddle for six months, Foster had only just started walking again when she attended her first Olympic Games. Now, four years later, she finds herself on the road to London riding alongside Lamaze.
“I am so excited!” said Foster enthusiastically. “I don’t even know where to start!”
Foster has been nominated with Victor, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Elmshorn x Grandeur) owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable.
“Victor really pulled through for me,” said Foster, who is originally from Vancouver, BC. “I really wanted him to be good, and he showed just how good he was! I am really happy with him.”
Foster continued, recognizing the owners of her Olympic nominated mount by saying, “I wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for Andy and Carlene Ziegler as well as Eric; he is also a part-owner. They could have sold Victor; I know they have had a lot of offers. I am going to give my best and make them happy that they didn’t sell him!”
Foster made her Canadian Show Jumping Team debut in the $350,000 BMO Nations’ Cup held at the 2011 Spruce Meadows “Masters” tournament riding Southwind VDL, and has subsequently represented Canada riding Victor in Nations’ Cup competitions in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Wellington, Florida; Lummen, Belgium; and Linz, Austria.
“I couldn’t imagine anything better than being on an Olympic team with Eric,” said Foster, who began training with Lamaze in 2006, having previously enjoyed great success under the tutelage of Brent and Laura Balisky. “He is not only my coach; he is one of my best friends. I made my Nations’ Cup debut with him, and now I get to make my Olympic debut with him. It is going to be a great experience!”
Lamaze is also looking forward to riding alongside Foster, who he has trained for the past six years, as well as Yann Candele of Caledon, ON, who trained with Lamaze for over 10 years. Candele, who has represented his native France in Nations’ Cup competition as well as at the 2004 World Cup Final, came to Canada in 1999 to further his career by working and training alongside Lamaze. Having gained his Canadian citizenship in 2008, Candele is nominated to his first Olympic team riding Carlotta Singular La Magnifica.
“It is so nice to have two people that have been so closely associated with me named to the same Olympic team,” said Lamaze. “Yann came to me many years ago with great ambitions and hoping to further his career while Tiffany came to me as a working student with a good, solid background. Both have worked very hard to get to where they are today, and I am very proud of what they have achieved.”
Lamaze and Foster are currently competing in the summer tournaments held at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, AB. Following the close of competition on July 8, they will return to their European base, Artisan Farms in Vrasene, Belgium.