November 17, 2008 – Toronto, Ontario – For Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, flying his horses home to compete at the Royal Horse Show in Toronto proved to be worthwhile. The Olympic Champion won the $100,000 CN World Cup Grand Prix, the $25,000 International Accumulator, and took home the Leading International Rider, Leading Canadian Rider, and Leading Canadian Horse titles.
Having spent September and October competing in lucrative show jumping tournaments in Europe, Lamaze, currently ranked the number two rider in the world, received a warm reception at the Royal Winter Agricultural Fair held November 7-16.
On Wednesday, November 12, following an emotional ceremony honouring Lamaze and his teammates for the Individual Gold and Team Silver Medals won at this summer’s Olympic Games, Lamaze and his Olympic mount, Hickstead, once again proved that they are in a league of their own. The pair topped an 11-horse jump-off to win the $100,000 CN World Cup Grand Prix, resulting in a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd in the Ricoh Coliseum. It was Hickstead’s only performance during the Royal Horse Show, and his fans were not disappointed.
“Whenever you really need him, he is always there,” said Lamaze of Hickstead, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Ashland Stables and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable. “It was not the biggest class he has done, but it was the most important, in front of the home crowd. It was fitting to have him win here. I wanted this for the crowd. He is a wonderful horse.”
On Thursday evening, the fans were once again treated to a winning performance by Lamaze. Riding Narcotique de Muze II, an 11-year-old Belgian Sport Horse mare owned by Ashland Stables of Wellington, FL, Lamaze won the $25,000 International Accumulator competition. Two days earlier, the pair had placed fourth in the $25,000 Jolera Power and Speed competition.
On closing night at the Royal, Lamaze stole the spotlight with yet another international contender. Riding the relatively inexperienced Take Off, Lamaze advanced to the jump-off where he had the fastest time, but a dropped rail placed him third overall in the $75,000 Ricoh Big Ben International Challenge. Although he did not win the competition, he was awarded the Leading International Rider and Leading Canadian Rider titles for his consistent performances throughout the week while Take Off, an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Numero Uno, was named the Leading Canadian Horse. In addition to the third place finish on Saturday night, Take Off also finished third in Tuesday’s $25,000 International Jumper Welcome and fifth in Thursday’s $25,000 International Jumper Class.
“Although she is new to this level, she learned a lot in Europe this summer and I was really happy with the way she jumped at the Royal,” said Lamaze who purchased the mare in the spring of 2007 and sold her at the end of this summer to Artisan Farms of Milwaukee, WI.
In addition to his hectic competition and riding schedule, Lamaze was kept busy at the Royal Horse Show. He participated in various autograph signing sessions and special presentations, and also made numerous media appearances including on Entertainment Tonight Canada where he gave a riding lesson to television personality Rick Campanelli. At the Jump Canada Hall of Fame Gala, Lamaze had the honour of presenting long-time Canadian coach and chef d’equipe, Tommy Gayford, with his award.
Lamaze and his horses will now return to return Europe to participate in the Rolex Top Ten Final, featuring the top ten ranked riders in the world, held as part of the CSI5* Brussels Horse Show in Belgium from November 27-30.