Leipzig, Germany – Olympic Show Jumping Champion Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, riding Hickstead won the second of three legs of competition comprising the 2011 Rolex FEI World Cup Final on Friday, April 29, in Leipzig, Germany.
On Thursday’s opening day of competition, Lamaze and Hickstead had one rail down to place 17th overall amongst the 43 competitors vying for the annual World Cup title. With Friday’s victory, Lamaze moved up to fifth position overall with a total score of six penalties heading into Sunday’s two-round final. Christian Ahlmann and Marco Kutscher, both of Germany, are currently tied for the lead with a perfect score of zero. Gerco Schroder of The Netherlands lies third with one penalty while Katie McVean of New Zealand sits fourth with four penalties.
“For me, this is early in the season so I didn’t arrive already thinking I’ve got a shot of winning,” said Lamaze, who is currently ranked number two in the world. “I am confident that Hickstead is going to give me a really good effort on Sunday. I am happy with the result today, and we will see what Sunday brings. Anything can happen.”
In Friday’s competition, Lamaze and Hickstead were one of seven combinations to advance to the jump-off. There, Lamaze and Hickstead posted another clear effort in a time of 40.68 seconds to stay ahead of Ahlmann and his mount, Taloubet Z, who stopped the clock at 40.86 seconds. As a testament to the incredible speed displayed by both Lamaze and Ahlmann, third placed finisher Schroder stopped the clock at 44.77 seconds riding Eurocommerce New Orleans.
“It was fun, and it was fast – we were smoking!” said Lamaze of Friday’s jump-off competition. “We had some ground to make up after Thursday so we had no choice. Hickstead felt really good in Thursday’s speed class, but there were two options that were difficult and he is not really in top gear yet, so I just wanted to have a good clear round. Unfortunately, he had a cheap rub where many times the rail would have stayed up, but it came down. It put us far back in the standings, so the win today is going to go a long way.
“It was a difficult course; it was big and technical and the jumps came up quickly,” continued Lamaze of the track set by German course designer, Frank Rothenberger. “The World Cup Final usually has more clears on the second day, so that speaks to the level of competition and the difficulty of the course.”
In preparation for the World Cup Final, Lamaze and Hickstead competed at the Paris Horse Show in France where they won the €100,000 1.60m Le Saut Hermès on Saturday, April 16. Paris marked their first indoor competition, as well as their first European competition, of the 2011 season.
“He is normally a horse that doesn’t start jumping well until about half-way through the summer,” noted Lamaze of Hickstead, the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion he co-owns with Ashland Stables. “This is early for him to peak, but with his experience, he is able to do it.”
Together, Lamaze and Hickstead claimed the Individual Gold Medal at the 2008 Olympic Games and led the Canadian Show Jumping Team to its first Team Silver Medal. At the 2010 World Equestrian Games, Lamaze and Hickstead won the Individual Bronze Medal, and helped Canada earn its berth for the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games.
In addition to his own success at the World Cup Final, Lamaze was also training Caitlin Ziegler, who was representing the United States in the European Youngster Cup for riders aged 25 and under. Based on her results in the Artisan Farms Young Riders Grand Prix Series held this winter in Wellington, Florida, Ziegler qualified to compete as one of seven North American representatives. Riding VDL Groep Camara, Ziegler finished fourth in the opening day of competition. Riding Valencia, Ziegler then placed second in the second phase of competition and 13th on the third and final day. Her consistent results placed Ziegler third overall in the final standings, making her the top North American finisher.
Photo Credit: Olympic Champions Eric Lamaze and Hickstead won the second leg of competition on Friday, April 29, at the 2011 Rolex FEI World Cup Final in Leipzig, Germany. Photo Credit – Kit Houghton/FEI