Lamaze jumped clear for Canada riding Fine Lady 5, a 13-year-old bay Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) owned by Andy and Carlene Ziegler of Artisan Farms in partnership with Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable. A total of 75 horse-rider combinations started the first round of competition with 24 producing clear efforts over the track set by Brazilian course designer Guilherme Jorge.
“She gets scopey and careful off a good gallop, and that sets the tone for the week,” said Lamaze, 48, who is competing in his third consecutive Olympic Games. “I know my horse, and she doesn’t look at anything and say ‘I’m scared of it’; instead, she gets quite bold about it.”
Lamaze won the individual gold medal and led Canada to team silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics riding the great Hickstead, who unexpectedly collapsed and died while competing in November of 2011. Five years later, Lamaze has found a worthy successor in Fine Lady 5.
“She was as bold as she always is, and carried the forward momentum throughout the course,” said Lamaze, whose clear round was the fastest of the day. “It’s nice to be back at the Olympics with a good chance to win. It’s great to feel like you have a chance.”
Making his Olympic debut, Canada’s lead-off rider Yann Candele, 45, of Caledon, ON, had one rail down for four faults in the opening round of competition with First Choice 15, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding (For Keeps x Angard) owned by the Watermark Group. The pair’s only error came at the second element of the double combination, fence 11ab, which proved to be the most difficult line of the day.
Tiffany Foster of North Vancouver, BC, also had one rail down for four faults in the double combination riding Tripple X III, a 14-year-old Anglo European stallion (Namelus R x Cantango) owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable. Alongside her Olympic teammates Candele and Lamaze, Foster was a member of Canada’s gold medal team at last year’s Pan American Games riding Tripple X III.
“In this sport, confidence goes a long way,” said Foster, 32, who is competing in her second consecutive Olympic Games. “In the last four years, since the last Games until now, I’ve jammed quite a bit of experience in. I definitely feel way more prepared, and I feel good about it.”
Following in the footsteps of her father, ten-time Olympian Ian Millar, Amy Millar, 39, of Perth, ON, made her Olympic debut in Rio riding Heros. Amy Millar and the nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Canadian River x Clinton) owned by AMMO Investments were foot-perfect around the course, leaving all the rails in place to post a score of zero for Canada.
Lamaze was thrilled with the clear round produced by his teammate, noting, “It shows you what kind of rider she is. She earned her spot on this team, and even with Ian here giving her the right commands, she still has to deliver in the ring and she did just that. Canadians should be proud of her. She’s riding the least experienced horse here at these Games in her first Olympics.”
When Lamaze followed Amy Millar with another clear round, Canada tied for third in the opening day’s competition with a score of four faults. Brazil and Germany shared the top of the leaderboard with a perfect score of zero while France, The Netherlands, and Switzerland joined Canada in a four-way tie for third place.
“We saw today with both the French and German teams needing to use their reserve riders how important it is to have a strong alternate, and I’d like to recognize Kara Chad for being here with us and being ready to go if we needed to call on her,” said Lamaze of the 20-year-old from Calgary, AB, who was the traveling reserve for the Canadian Show Jumping Team with her horse, Bellinda.
“It was amazing to see everyone put in a strong effort for Canada, and that’s what we need to keep doing to put ourselves on the podium,” Lamaze concluded.
The opening round of competition was used as an individual qualifier, and to set the order of go for the team competition, which begins on Tuesday, August 16, and sees all 15 teams start with a clear scorecard. The top eight countries then advance to the second and final round of team competition, which will be held over a different course, on Wednesday, August 17. Team medals will be awarded at the conclusion of Wednesday’s events.
Following the first three rounds of competition, the top 35 individuals will move forward to the Individual Final on Friday, August 19. All participants start the Individual Final on a score of zero, with the top 20 moving forward to the second round where individual medals will be decided.
For more information on the equestrian events at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, visit www.rio2016.com/en/equestrian-schedule-and-results.