Lamaze’s 25th career victory came aboard Fine Lady 5, his individual bronze medal partner at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and winner of the €300,000 Rolex Top Ten Final in Geneva, Switzerland, in December. The pair now have the new year off to a strong start, having won the $130,000 CSI3* Adequan Grand Prix on Saturday night, January 28. The $130,000 CSI5* WEF Challenge Cup Round V marked Lamaze and Fine Lady 5’s first appearance in the International Arena since their win, and they once again ended it with a trip to the winner’s circle.
“It is hard to ever compare another horse to Hickstead, but she is slowly starting to fill his shoes,” said Lamaze of Fine Lady 5, a 14-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) owned by Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms and his Torrey Pines Stable. “Since the Olympics, I have been thinking that maybe I have my second horse of a lifetime.”
Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 were in a class of their own in Thursday’s WEF Challenge Cup, which acts as a qualifying event for Saturday night’s $380,000 CSI5* Fidelity Investments Grand Prix. A total of 57 riders started over the track set by 2012 London Olympic course designer Bob Ellis with 13 jumping clear. Coming back early in the order, Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 laid down a blazing fast trip in a time of 41.23 seconds. Try as they might, no one could catch them with Hardin Towell coming the closest with a time of 43.72 riding Lucifer V followed by fellow American Margie Engle who stopped the timers in 45.27 seconds to finish third with Royce.The win also marked Lamaze’s second WEF Challenge Cup victory of 2017, as he was victorious during the third week of competition riding Houston, a ten-year-old grey Belgian Warmblood stallion (Heartbreaker x Corofino) owned by Artisan Farms and Torrey Pines Stable.
“I’ve been doing it for quite some time!” laughed Lamaze when asked what the secret was to his success in the weekly WEF Challenge Cup classes. “Specific to today, Fine Lady suits every sort of competition. As you saw at the Olympics, she is really an unbelievable horse.”
Following the 2016 Olympic Games in August, Lamaze gave Fine Lady a long rest before resuming competition at CSI5* events in Paris, France, and Geneva, Switzerland, in December. He then relocated his training stable to Wellington, FL, for the 2017 winter season.
“After the Olympics, we gave her two months off where she did absolutely nothing,” explained Lamaze, who is the most successful Canadian equestrian athlete in Olympic history with a medal in every colour. “I gave her a rest, and then I went on to do Paris and Geneva indoors. My plan was to carry forward the momentum from that and start WEF with her, then leave her alone and get her ready for the European show season. You won’t see much more of her after the next week or two.”
Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 will be in the starting line-up for Saturday night’s $380,000 CSI5* Fidelity Investments Grand Prix. The 2008 Olympic Champion will continue to compete on the Florida circuit for the duration of the winter season before heading back to his training base in Belgium in April.