Dermott Lennon and McLain Ward set the pace to open the International Jumper division and Eric Lamaze receives a standing ovation upon his return to competition following the death of his beloved Hickstead.
Toronto, November 8th, 2011 - The luck of the Irish was with Dermott Lennon this evening, as he blazed around the course in the $31,000 Jolera International Jumper Welcome with his young mare Loughview Lou Lou; besting American superstars McLain Ward and Richard Spooner while laying groundwork to defend his 2010Leading International Rider title here at the Royal.
Ward (Brewster, NY), who won this afternoon’s $20,000 Power & Speed class with Rothchild by mere fractions of a second, rode Pjotter Van de Zonnehoeve to second this evening, executing one - but not both - of the time-saving steps which led to Lennon’s success tonight.
“I had one stride less after the double combination which probably saved me a few seconds,” explained Lennon following the class. “Although McLain also did that - but I had one less stride from one to two so I got a little bit ahead there. She’s a very competitive mare, and had a few good wins at Aachen and Dublin this year, so she’s holding her own.” said Lennon of his mount, whom he has only been riding for the past year.
The story of the evening, however, is Eric Lamaze’s return to the competition ring, just days after the death of his adored Olympic gold medal partner Hickstead, who passed away in Verona, Italy, this weekend.
Upon entering the competition ring tonight on his mount Herald 3, Lamaze was greeted with rousing applause, which quickly turned into a standing ovation from the crowd. The pair jumped a solid, confident round with no rails down and just two time faults, finishing in 10th overall and settling any doubts as to whether Lamaze was ready to compete so soon after such a trauma.
Organizers of the Royal Horse Show have planned a video tribute to Lamaze and Hickstead which will be broadcast in a brief memorial tomorrow evening at approximately 8:30pm, immediately prior to the $100,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix, in which Lamaze will be competing. Fans are also invited to sign a book of condolences which is being placed in the Heritage Court area of the Ricoh Coliseum.
The International riders will have the opportunity to compete throughout the rest of the week in matinee and evening competitions including the $100,000 FEI World Cup Grand Prix, the $50,000 Weston Canadian Open and the sold-out $75,000 Ricoh Big Ben Challenge. All of the weekday matinee performances are FREE with general admission to the Fair. Thursday’s evening performance offers an exciting double-bill featuring International show jumping as well as the $40,000 CDI 3*** FEI Grand Prix Dressage Freestyle to Music competition, where Ashley Holzer will appear to defend her 2009 & 2010 titles. The complete timetable is available at www.royalfair.org.
Photos: Dermott Lennon of Ireland with Loughview Lou Lou winning the $31,000 Jolera International Welcome; McLain Ward and Pjotter Van de Zonnehoeve; Eric Lamaze and Herald 3