Riding Fine Lady 5, owned by Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable, Lamaze jumped clear in both rounds of the Individual Final to join a six-horse jump-off for the individual medals.
In the jump-off, Nick Skelton of Great Britain led with a clear round riding Big Star, stopping the clock at 42.82 seconds. Steve Guerdat of Switzerland, Sheikh Ali Al Thani of Qatar and Kent Farrington of the United States all had rails down before Sweden’s Peder Fredricson jumped clear in a time of 43.35 seconds riding All In to secure a medal; the only question was which one it would be. It was all up to Lamaze, who was the final rider to enter the packed Deodoro Olympic stadium.
Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 had been the only pair to jump clear through every round of competition held over four days, but their luck ran out at the penultimate fence in the jump-off, giving the pair four faults. Speed is never a question for Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 however, and they crossed the timers in 42.09 seconds, the fastest of all the jump-off contenders, to take the individual bronze medal.
“It was an incredible competition!” said Lamaze, who now has a third Olympic medal to add to his individual gold and team silver earned at the 2008 Beijing Olympics riding Hickstead. “To even represent your country, let alone win a medal, at the Olympics is just amazing. I am so grateful to Fine Lady and for the support of Andy and Carlene Ziegler. To have a horse with the ability to come here and do that is incredible. This medal is as much theirs as it is mine.
Fine Lady didn’t win the jump-off, but she won the Olympics, in my opinion,” continued Lamaze of the 13-year-old bay Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II). “She was the best horse; she was the only horse that started the jump-off today with zero faults. But at the Olympics, it’s a brand new slate on the last day, and those other clear rounds don’t count. That’s the way it is. It was a gruelling competition, and for Fine Lady to be one of the best horses at the Olympic Games is incredible.”“Lamaze carefully built Fine Lady 5 up throughout the 2016 season with Rio in mind, competing throughout the winter in Wellington, FL, and spending four weeks in June and July in Calgary, AB, competing at the Spruce Meadows ‘Summer Series’.
“We made the plan this year, and the whole thing was set up for her; she needed to arrive here full of confidence,” said Lamaze of his Olympic preparation. “Spruce Meadows is one of the very best venues to get ready for championships, and we are very lucky to have that in Canada.
“I’m incredibly proud of the entire Canadian team, and especially that we qualified three riders for the Individual Final,” concluded Lamaze.
Having led the Canadian Show Jumping Team to a fourth place finish following a jump-off against Germany for the bronze medal on Wednesday, Lamaze sat at the top the leaderboard heading into the Individual Final, which saw the top 35 compete. He was joined by teammates Yann Candele, 45, and Tiffany Foster, 32, in the battle for an individual medal.
Foster of North Vancouver, BC, had the last fence down in the opening round of the Individual Final riding Tripple X III, a 14-year-old Anglo European stallion (Namelus R x Cantango) owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable. Her score of four faults allowed her to move through to the second round, but 12 faults left them out of medal contention and in 26th position overall.
“I’ve never ridden in the Individual Final in any championships, so this is as far as I’ve ever gotten!” said an elated Foster, who made her Olympic debut in London in 2012. “I’m thrilled with my horse; he gave me everything he had this whole week. I couldn’t be happier with him, and I couldn’t be happier with my team. I had the best Olympics I’ve ever had!”Candele of Caledon, ON, incurred 12 faults in the first round to tie for 32nd position in his Olympic debut riding First Choice 15, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding (For Keeps x Angard) owned by the Watermark Group, a group of owners committed to supporting the Canadian Show Jumping Team.
“My horse was a bit tired today,” said Candele, noting that the Individual Final was the fourth day of Olympic-calibre show jumping. “Basically, I was under the pace and that created the faults, I guess.
“I’ve never seen an Olympic Games with such a high standard of horse and rider combinations,” noted Candele. “You had 15 or 20 starters that could have easily won.”
In the end, it was Great Britain’s Nick Skelton who stood in the center of the medal podium, flanked by Peder Fredricson of Sweden who won individual silver and 2008 Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze wearing the individual bronze medal for Canada.
For more information on the equestrian events at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, visit www.rio2016.com/en/equestrian-schedule-and-results.