Canadian Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze took his winning streak at the Spruce Meadows Summer Series to new heights by claiming two victories on Thursday, July 5, in Calgary, AB.
Having topped a 49-horse starting field to win the first class of the day, the $35,500 1.45m ATCO Cup riding Chesney, Lamaze later returned to the International Ring with Fine Lady 5 to win the $131,600 1.55m Progress Energy Cup.
While two wins in one day is an incredible feat, Lamaze enjoyed impressive results all day long with six different horses. In addition to winning the $35,500 1.45m ATCO Cup with Chesney, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Indoctro x Kannan) owned by Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms, Lamaze also placed ninth after incurring one time fault with new mount Quality FZ, a nine-year-old Italian Sport Horse gelding (Quintender x Eurocommerce Berlin) owned in partnership with Ansgar and Ellen Holtgers.
Next up on Thursday’s schedule was the $35,500 1.50m AON Cup where Lamaze qualified two horses for the 16-horse jump-off. He was double clear riding Houston to place third while his 2015 Pan American Games team gold medal horse, Coco Bongo, placed 12th. Both horses are owned by Artisan Farms in partnership with Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable. Tiffany Foster of North Vancouver, BC, took second place with Brighton, also owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable.
Finally, the stage was set for the biggest track of the day, the $131,600 1.55m Progress Energy Cup, set by renowned Spanish course designer Santiago Varela. The demanding course yielded five clear rounds from the 46-horse starting field with Lamaze returning fourth in the jump-off order with Fine Lady 5. The 2016 Olympic individual bronze medalists had their work cut out for them, but ultimately posted the winning time of 45.78 seconds to take the win over Mexico’s Patricio Pasquel riding Babel and fellow Canadian Francois Lamontagne riding Chanel du Calvaire, who had stopped the clock in times of 46.10 and 46.17 respectively.
“It was a long day; by the time the big class came around I was running out of steam!” laughed Lamaze, 50, who balances coaching several other athletes with his own competition schedule. “It was a very difficult course with only five clear and the jump-off was fast. Going fourth in the jump-off was a good position. Francois was last to go; I hadn’t seen him in many jump-offs before and was impressed with his time.”
Fine Lady 5, a 15-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) owned by Artisan Farms LLC and Torrey Pines Stable, will be Lamaze’s mount for the $500,000 ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Saturday, July 7. The grand prix event is the highlight of the CSI5* Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ tournament, presented by Rolex, and concludes four weeks of top international show jumping competition comprising the Spruce Meadows ‘Summer Series’.
Before Saturday’s main event, Lamaze will tack up Chacco Kid for the $131,600 Imperial Winning Round. On Wednesday, July 4, Lamaze and the 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue x Come On) owned by the Chacco Kid Group finished a close second in the $70,200 1.55m ATCO Energy competition.
Heading into the final weekend, Lamaze already has five five-star victories to his credit during the Summer Series achieved on four different horses. Three consecutive wins during the ‘Continental’ tournament earned riding Chacco Kid, Saura de Fondombe, and Fine Lady 5, helped catapult Lamaze from 11th to fourth position when the new World Rider Rankings were released on Wednesday, July 4.
Asked what the key was to his success at Spruce Meadows, Lamaze said, “The experience of being here, knowing the venue, the routine, and which classes your horses should be in. And having good horses. You are not going to win here if your horse is not good. You have to place them right and do the right thing. That’s the most important thing.
“Then the experienced horses have to be managed well,” continued Lamaze, who is based Wellington, FL, and Brussels, Belgium. “Fine Lady and Chacco Kid both had the third week off and came out fresh this week, and it paid off. Chesney is back in form and I left Houston with my good friend, Max Amaya, to build up over the winter. Houston came back to me here at Spruce Meadows and the horse has really improved. Then we have some new horses who are getting used to the venue and learning about speed. As I always say, Spruce Meadows is a great place to make a horse and make a rider. If you can jump well here, you can be successful anywhere in the world.”
The all-time leading money winner at Spruce Meadows with a total of $5,558,000 in earnings to date, Lamaze will be looking to add even more prize money to his tally in the final weekend. For Canadian fans not able to be at Spruce Meadows in person, CBC Sports will air the $500,000 ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup, beginning at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 7.