Wellington, Florida – For the second day in a row, 2008 Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, stood in the winner’s circle at the 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. The 12-week international show jumping competition, which runs through March 29, opened on Wednesday, January 7.
On opening day, Lamaze won the first competition, a $8,000 1.45m speed class, held in the International Arena riding Check Picobello Z. A sign of good things to come, Lamaze was once again victorious on Thursday, winning the $25,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round I riding Rosana du Park. Both horses are owned by Artisan Farms in partnership with Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable.
In the $25,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup, a total of nine horses made it through to the jump-off over the track set by U.S. course designer Eric Hasbrouck. Lamaze led the way, opening the jump-off with a foot perfect performance in a time of 38.18 seconds to put the pressure on those still to come. His strategy worked, as none were able to catch his time and also leave the rails in place. Coming closest was Darragh Kerins of Ireland, who stopped the clock in 38.47 riding D Elia van het Molenhof, followed by Ian Millar of Perth, ON, who placed third with a time of 39.13 seconds riding Baranus.
In addition, as Lamaze was wearing SSG ‘Digital’ riding gloves for the win, he was awarded a $3,000 rider bonus in the SSG Gloves “Go Clean for the Green” promotion.
“All of the classes at the Winter Equestrian Festival are very competitive,” said Lamaze following his victory. “I went quite fast, being first in the ring. I think my time was beatable but, as an opening WEF class, I was happy with my plan.”
Lamaze was especially pleased with the early success of Rosana du Park and Check Picobello Z, as they had been purchased with Carlene and Andy Ziegler of Artisan Farms with the intention of taking their time to develop them into future grand prix horses.
“Rosana and Check Picobello Z are both horses that we bought young with the hopes of having great horses in the future, and I think we’ve achieved that,” said Lamaze of the two mounts who are quickly earning their place in Lamaze’s top string alongside Powerplay and Zigali P S. “Rosana was ridden by Carly Anthony last year, and she has brought her along fantastically. She gave her great mileage and great confidence, and the mare is now ready to do whatever you ask of her. Check Picobello Z is an outstanding young horse. I am very fortunate at this Winter Equestrian Festival to have fresh older horses as well as up-and-coming young ones that are ready to do great things, so I am very well-mounted. It’s very exciting, and it’s great to have the support of the Ziegler family and Artisan Farms.”
Lamaze further described Rosana du Park, a 10-year-old bay selle francais mare (Kannan x Quinine de Livoye), by saying, “She’s very hunter-like. She doesn’t like to go in a frame or be held together. You just let her nose poke up a bit and give her a little balance, and she takes care of the fences. She is really, really a careful mare; she wants to over-achieve, if anything. But you just stay in balance and let her canter along. She is not a complicated ride.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, Lamaze plans to start Check Picobello Z in Saturday’s $25,000 Suncast 1.50m Classic while Rosana du Park will return to the International Arena on Sunday for the $30,000 Grand Prix.
For more information on Eric Lamaze, please visit www.ericlamaze.com.