Eric Lamaze Starts Spring Season With a Win in Paris

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Paris, France – Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, opened his European spring season with a win in the €100,000 Le Saut Hermès on Saturday, April 16, at the CSI5* Paris Horse Show in Paris, France.

In a format that sees two riders competing together as a team over two rounds, Lamaze and his partner, Nina Fagerstrom of Finland, both jumped clear in the first round, as did two other teams. Returning for the second round, Lamaze and Fagerstrom were both once again clear to post a perfect score of zero faults, taking victory over the American team of Beezie Madden and Richard Spooner, who were forced to count Madden’s first round time fault riding Coral Reef Via Volo.

“It was a pairs class where you go one after the other, and then all the teams return for the second speed round, carrying their faults forward,” explained Lamaze of the 1.60m competition held in the famous Grand Palais of Paris. “Both Nina’s horse and Hickstead jumped double clear, and we were the only team do so. We were fast, more than six seconds faster than the second-placed team, but in the end we won because we were the only team that jumped clear. It was really good. This is such a nice show to come to.”

Currently ranked number two in the world, Lamaze was aboard Hickstead, his Individual Gold and Team Silver medal partner at the 2008 Olympic Games, while 2010 World Equestrian Games veteran Fagerstrom was riding Talent. For their victory, Lamaze and Fagerstrom each received €25,000.

“Hickstead jumped on Friday and had one down, and then today he jumped the first round well, really relaxed, and then was super in the jump-off,” said Lamaze, who also won an Individual Bronze Medal at last fall’s World Championships riding Hickstead. “I was quite happy.”

Paris marked Hickstead’s return to competition after a winter rest. The 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion only competed during one week of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. Before that, his last competition was in Geneva, Switzerland, where Lamaze and Hickstead finished second in the €200,000 Rolex World Cup Grand Prix on December 12, 2010.

Lamaze will celebrate his 43rd birthday competing with Hickstead in the €200,000 Hermès Grand Prix on Sunday, April 17. He will also ride Coriana Van Klapscheut, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Artisan Farms, in the Prix de la Ville de Paris on the final day of competition at CSI5* Paris.

Lamaze is next scheduled to compete at the annual Rolex World Cup Final, which will be held this year in Leipzig, Germany, from April 27 to May 1.

“It is nice to have Hickstead back,” said Lamaze of the horse he co-owns with Ashland Stables. “I showed him one week in Florida, but then just decided to lay back and wait for Paris and see if he is fit enough to do World Cup Final. Since he had a light schedule this winter, Paris was a test to see where his fitness was, and he is jumping well. This is a year with no other major championships, so it is the right year to do it. It would be Hickstead’s first World Cup Final.”

Lamaze will be based in Brussels, Belgium, for the remainder of 2011, returning to Canada in June to contest the summer tournaments at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, AB.

Photo: Olympic Champions Eric Lamaze and Hickstead won the €100,000 Le Saut Hermès on April 16, 2011, at the CSI5* Paris Horse Show in France.  Photo Credits – F. Chehu