Rome, Italy – In what can only be described as a phenomenon, Olympic Champions Eric Lamaze and Hickstead captured yet another major grand prix victory, the €200,000 Loro Piana Grand Prix of Rome on Sunday, May 29, in Italy.
An exciting jump-off to determine the winner saw the world’s best vying for victory. France’s Michel Robert held the early lead with Kellemoi de Pepita after jumping clear in a time of 44.16 seconds. Great Britain’s Nick Skelton riding Carlo then moved into top spot, but his time of 44.13 seconds was quickly eclipsed when Jeroen Dubbledam of the Netherlands shaved off almost two full seconds, taking over the lead with 42.30 riding BMC Van Grunsven Simon.
Lamaze and Hickstead were next in the ring and, with a daring ride that included an incredible turn from jumps two to three, took two full seconds off Dubbledam’s time, racing through the timers in an incredible 40.30 seconds. Only Michael Whitaker remained and while he seemed to be on target to catch Lamaze’s time, the clock told the final tale when 41.17 seconds flashed on the scoreboard, leaving the British veteran second with Gig Amai.
The Olympic champions had claimed yet another major grand prix victory.
“It was one of the most exciting jump-offs I have ever seen!” exclaimed Lamaze. “The turn we did from jump two to three in the jump-off; I don’t know if I could ever do it again! It was really exciting.”
The victory came two weeks after Lamaze and Hickstead won the €200,000 Longines Grand Prix of La Baule in France on May 15. On May 1, the pair finished second in the annual Rolex World Cup Final.
“He is jumping unbelievable,” said Lamaze of the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Ashland Stables and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable. “It seems like a funny thing to say, but it is almost like he is getting better. I can’t even explain it.”
On Saturday in Rome, Lamaze won the €23,000 Trofeo Marine and Aviation riding Coriana van Klapscheut, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Artisan Farms. With two major victories in Rome, Lamaze was named the Leading Rider of CSIO5* Rome, just as he had been two weeks earlier at CSIO5* La Baule.
Currently ranked number two in the world, Lamaze is poised to move back into the number one position following a succession of major victories throughout the month of May. Lamaze was last ranked number one in the world in July of 2010.
Lamaze now returns to Canada for the Spruce Meadows summer tournaments in Calgary, Alberta. He will then travel back to Europe to defend his title in the €350,000 Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen on July 17 in Aachen, Germany, which he won last year after jumping three clear rounds despite breaking a bone in his left foot.
Photo: Eric Lamaze and Hickstead captured the €200,000 Loro Piana Grand Prix of Rome on Sunday, May 29, at CSIO5* Rome, Italy. Photo Credit – Marco Proli