Maastricht, The Netherlands – Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, was named ‘Rider of the Year’ for 2010 during a special presentation held November 20 during the CSI4* Maastricht show jumping tournament in The Netherlands.
The ‘Rider of the Year’ title is given by the equestrian publication yearbook, L’Annee Hippique, published in The Netherlands. Publisher Eric Bruger made the presentation to Lamaze. For the first time, the winner of the ‘Rider of the Year’ title was determined by a vote by the members of the International Jumping Riders Club.
“It is special to know that it is judged by the other riders,” said Lamaze of the title awarded by his peers. “It’s an impressive year when you win at Aachen and get a medal at the World Championships, as well as have good results at various competitions with other horses. If you think about it, it is quite amazing for a North American rider to achieve this.”
The year 2010 has contained numerous highlights for Lamaze, including winning the Individual Bronze at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, where Hickstead earned the title of ‘Best Horse’ after jumping clear rounds with all four of his riders in the ‘Final Four.’
Lamaze began the 2010 season by winning two Grand Prix classes with Ultra Boy and Coriana van Klapscheut in Wellington, Florida, before leading Canada to victory in the Nations’ Cup riding Ronaldo. In Paris in April, he won the €50,000 1.50m Prix GL Events with Take Off before returning to Canada to dominate the Spruce Meadows summer tournaments in Calgary, AB. No less than 10 victories, including the $100,000 CN Performance Grand Prix and the $200,000 ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup with Hickstead, put Lamaze at the top of the all-time money won list at Spruce Meadows with career earnings in excess of $2.7 million at the Calgary venue alone. His strong results in Calgary also propelled him to number one in the Rolex World Rider Rankings.
The following week, Lamaze returned to Europe to win the sport’s most prestigious grand prix, the €350,000 Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen, Germany. Despite breaking a bone in his foot during the first round, Lamaze and his Olympic partner Hickstead produced three clear rounds to take the title. In his first competition back after the injury, Lamaze, riding, Atlete Van’t Heike was a member of Canada’s second-placed team in the Nations’ Cup of Gijon, Spain. The following week, Lamaze rode Hickstead to a third place finish in the $1 million CN International at Calgary’s Spruce Meadows “Masters” tournament.
“It is an honour to be named the ‘Rider of the Year,’ but it can’t be done without great clients and staff supporting me every step of the way,” said Lamaze who is based in Wellington, Florida, from January to March and in Belgium for the rest of the year. “To achieve all of these results, it is so important to have good owners standing behind you. I am very thankful to Ashland Stables and Artisan Farms, who are the two main owners of my horses, for their support.”
To conclude the 2010 season, Lamaze will compete at CSI5* Brussels, Belgium, from November 25-28 followed by CSI5* Paris, France, from December 2-5. His final competition of the year will be CSI5*-W Geneva, Switzerland, from December 9-12.
Photo: Eric Bruger (left), publisher of L’Annee Hippique, presents Eric Lamaze with the ‘Rider of the Year’ award at CSI4* Maastricht, The Netherlands. Photo Credit – BCM/Remco Veurink