September 4, 2013 – Calgary, Alberta – Canadian Olympic Champion and Rolex testimonee Eric Lamaze welcomed guests on the opening day of the CSIO5* Spruce Meadows “Masters” tournament in Calgary, AB. The five-day show jumping tournament runs September 4-8, culminating in the $1 million CN International, presented by Rolex.
Lamaze welcomed guests and media to his stables where he introduced his two top mounts, Powerplay and Quelmec du Gery. Both horses were acquired in June of this year by owner Artisan Farms, giving Lamaze three months to get to know the horses in preparation for the “Masters”. Lamaze will ride Powerplay, a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding, in Saturday’s $350,000 BMO Nations’ Cup and in Sunday’s $1 million CN International, presented by Rolex.
Following a tour of his stables, Lamaze took guests on a guided course walk in the International Ring, explaining the intricacies that both horse and rider would encounter when facing Wednesday’s $50,000 Akita Drilling Cup. Describing various approaches, as well as the use of colour and shadow employed by two-time Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios, Lamaze gave an insightful look at the sport of show jumping.
The $1 million CN International, presented by Rolex, is part of the new Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping which brings together three of the greatest events in the world – CHIO Aachen, CSIO Calgary and CHI Geneva, offering an unprecedented €1 million in bonus money to any rider who can win all three grand prix events in succession.
To date, Lamaze and his 2008 Olympic gold medal partner, Hickstead, are the only horse-rider combinations to have won all three events.
“It’s the super bowl of show jumping,” said Lamaze of Schomberg, ON. “For the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping to be at Spruce Meadows, one of the best venues in the world, and Aachen and Geneva, is very fitting. To win any one of these events can make a rider’s career.”
Based in Vrasene, Belgium, and spending the winter season in Wellington, Florida, Spruce Meadows is the only Canadian venue where Lamaze competes. And with good reason; Lamaze is the all-time leading money winner at Spruce Meadows, having won more than $3.8 million to date at the Calgary venue alone. He’ll look to increase his lead even further throughout this week’s “Masters” competition, where Rolex has been the official timekeeper since 1989.
“For me, it’s one of the most exciting venues in the world to compete at,” said Lamaze. “As a rider, I look forward to it every year. When I arrive here at Spruce Meadows, I am ready to compete. It’s so special for me. It gives you chills when you come in the ring. You want to put in that clear round to hear the crowd come alive.
“It’s such a great organization; everyone is so knowledgeable about our sport,” Lamaze continued. “They really understand our sport. As riders, we’re very passionate about our sport, and they’re also passionate about what they do.”
Lamaze enters Sunday’s $1 million CN International, presented by Rolex, as a two-time winner, having won the prestigious event on two occasions, in 2007 and 2011, riding the great Hickstead.