He is joined by fellow Rolex Testimonees Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER), Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Scott Brash (GBR), who made history at last year’s ‘Masters’ tournament by becoming the first athlete to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
Lamaze, who credits his success at the 2016 Olympic Games to his preparation at the Spruce Meadows ‘Summer Series’, will face another star-studded field when he contests the $2 million CP International, presented by Rolex, on Sunday, September 11.
“It is a big weekend here; we are going to jump the same fences we jumped at the Olympics, and it’s the same level of competition,” said Lamaze, who added an individual bronze to the individual gold and team silver won at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. “You don’t come into Spruce Meadows taking things lightly.”
Spectators at last year’s Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ witnessed history in the making as Brash became the first athlete to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping riding Hello Sanctos. The pair won at CHI Geneva (SUI) followed by a second victory at CHIO Aachen (GER) before handling the pressure to win at Spruce Meadows and claim the unprecedented €1 million bonus offered to any rider able to win all three grand prix events in succession.
“What we saw last year with the Rolex Grand Slam was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in this venue,” said Lamaze, who was a two-time winner of the CP International in 2007 and 2011 with the legendary Hickstead. “I have been part of many exciting things that have happened at Spruce Meadows over the years, but this was one of the very best moments that I have witnessed. I know what it’s like to win this grand prix, and it’s not easy. We saw something that was truly incredible.”
At this year’s Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ tournament, Philip Weishaupt (GER) is the live contender, having won the last leg of the Rolex Grand Slam at CHIO Aachen. Lamaze considers the German and his partner, LB Convall, one of the riders to beat come Sunday.
“I think his horse jumped very well here in the summer, and it went on to Aachen to win the Rolex Grand Slam where it jumped incredible,” said Lamaze. “I believe he is one of the favourites to win this, and I think he has his eye on the prize. We’re going to see great sport.”While Lamaze’s Olympic partner, Fine Lady 5, is enjoying a well-deserved rest following Rio, he has three horses in the stable for this weekend’s main event. Check Picobello Z is the most experienced while Chacco Kid and Houston are also proving themselves at the top level.
“I think we’re going to get a nice welcome home,” said Lamaze, who is competing on Canadian soil for the first time following the Olympic Games. “The public appreciated what we did there – we brought home a medal from the Olympics – so I think we will be very well-received!
“Spruce Meadows is unique,” concluded Lamaze, who is the all-time money winner at Spruce Meadows, where Rolex has been the official timekeeper since 1989. “The arena is magical on the weekend when there are 60,000 people here; as a rider it is such a special moment to hear the crowd cheer. There is nothing else like it.”
Whatever the outcome, top sport is guaranteed at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’.