Calgary, Alberta – In front of 76,947 show jumping fans, Canadian Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze placed third in the $1 million CN International held Sunday, September 12, at the CSIO5* Spruce Meadows “Masters” Tournament in Calgary, AB.
Despite competing with a broken bone in his left foot, Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, jumped clear in the first round riding his Olympic partner, Hickstead. His first round performance put Lamaze in the enviable position of being the last of 12 riders to return for the second round. At the third fence, Hickstead made a great effort, causing Lamaze to lose his left stirrup. Not able to get his stirrup back in time for the double liverpool combination at fence four, Lamaze was forced to circle. Lamaze and Hickstead went on to jump the rest of the course clear, but incurred four faults for circling as well as three time faults for exceeding the time allowed.
Jeroen Dubbeldam of The Netherlands won the event with one time fault riding BMC Van Grunsven Simon while Richard Spooner of the United States placed second with four faults riding Cristallo.
“I have been trying to protect my left foot by landing in my right stirrup, and the jumps just got too big,” explained Lamaze, who first underwent surgery on his foot on July 20. “The second round was as big as I have ever jumped anywhere in the world. I wasn’t going into that combination without my stirrups. I may be sitting on Hickstead, but I still need two stirrups!”
Had he won Sunday’s $1 million CN International at Spruce Meadows, Lamaze would have claimed the first place cheque of $325,000 as well as a $450,000 bonus for winning three events in the CN Precision Series this year, having already won the $200,000 CN Reliability Grand Prix during the Spruce Meadows “National” Tournament in June as well as the $200,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup during the “North American” Tournament in July.
“Financially, it was not as successful as it could have been for me, but I am still very happy to be third,” said Lamaze, who earned $100,000 for his third place finish. “That’s the sport, and I still had a good result. We are already competing for a lot of money, and the bonus money is just the icing on the cake.”
Lamaze’s first competition back after breaking his foot was at CSIO5* Gijon, Spain, where he jumped double clear for the second-placed Canadian Show Jumping Team in the Nations’ Cup on Friday, September 3, riding Atlete van t Heike. Lamaze was scheduled to compete for Canada at the CSIO5* Barcelona, Spain, the week after Spruce Meadows, but due to the injury to his foot, has requested that Canadian teammate and close friend Yann Candele of Caledon, ON, compete his horses.
“I need another operation to fix my foot, but there is not a lot of time before the World Championships,” said Lamaze, who is focusing on the upcoming World Equestrian Games being held in Lexington, Kentucky, from September 25 to October 10. “My other horses are in Barcelona, but I am going to pass and have Yann Candele ride them. It is important that the Canadian Team have a fourth rider in the Nations’ Cup and not have to compete with a three-man team, so this is the best solution for Canada, and for the Team.”
Lamaze broke his foot on July 18 while competing in the €350,000 Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen, Germany, which he won after jumping three clear rounds with Hickstead. Lamaze is under the care of leading doctors in Brussels, Belgium, where he is based.
Despite not competing in the month of August, Lamaze is currently ranked the number three show jumping rider in the world. In July, he took over top spot on the Spruce Meadows all-time money list with earnings in excess of $2.8 million at the Calgary venue alone.
Photo: Olympic Champions Eric Lamaze and Hickstead placed third in the $1 million CN International at the Spruce Meadows “Masters” Tournament on Sunday, September 12, in Calgary, Alberta. Photo Credit – Cealy Tetley, www.tetleyphoto.com