Five days of international show jumping competition culminates in Sunday’s CP International, presented by Rolex. It will be a nail-biter as Brash, the latest rider to join the Rolex Family, is in contention to become the first rider to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. With wins at CHI Geneva in December followed by a second victory at CHIO Aachen in the spring, Brash is poised to claim the unprecedented €1 million in bonus money on offer to any rider who can win all three grand prix events in succession.
Brash will face stiff competition in his quest to make history, however. One of his greatest challengers will be fellow Rolex Testimonee Eric Lamaze, a two-time winner of the CP International in 2007 and 2011 with the legendary Hickstead.
“Spruce Meadows is unique,” said Lamaze, who is hot off his team gold medal victory at the 2015 Pan American Games. “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.”
Lamaze, who divides his time between training bases in Brussels (BEL) and Wellington (USA), always makes Spruce Meadows, where he has enjoyed considerable success over the years – a regular stop on his competition calendar. Lamaze will look to increase his lead as the all-time money winner at Spruce Meadows, where Rolex has been the official timekeeper since 1989, in Sunday’s $1.5 million CP International, presented by Rolex.
There is a full schedule of events leading up to Sunday’s main feature, however. On opening day of the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, Lamaze gave a master class in course walking to invited guests before the start of Wednesday’s competition. The 2008 Canadian Olympic Show Jumping Champion not only explained the intricacies of the Leopoldo Palacios-designed course, but also brought forward members of the group to walk the lines. Show jumping spectators will often see the athletes pacing out the striding before the start of competition, and Lamaze enlightened guests as to how riders measure the steps needed between obstacles on horseback. In show jumping sport, only the human athletes are given the opportunity to inspect the course beforehand; the horses see the jumps for the first time when they enter the ring.
While opening day provided a great preview to the exciting sport yet to come, the fences will be higher and wider and the lines even more technical for Sunday’s CP International, presented by Rolex.
“This is the top of our sport, and I think any rider will tell you that it would mean a lot in their career to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping,” concluded Lamaze.
Whatever the outcome, top sport is guaranteed at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’.