February 11, 2010 – Wellington, Florida – Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, won the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round V on Thursday, February 11, at the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL.
It was Lamaze’s second major win of the 2010 season, having also won the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round III two weeks earlier riding Ultra Boy for owner Ashland Stables.
This time, Coriana van Klapscheut was his winning mount. From an original starting field of 79 horses, 16 were clear over the first round track set by Richard Jeffery of Great Britain to advance to the jump-off. Two of the jump-off contenders belonged to Lamaze as he had qualified Take Off and Coriana van Klapscheut, both owned by the Ziegler family’s Artisan Farms, LLC.
Lamaze took his first shot with Take Off, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, but had the first fence down for four faults. Their time of 43.44 seconds would place them eighth in the final standings.
With Coriana van Klapscheut, Lamaze negotiated the shortened jump-off track in a blistering fast time of 41.18 to overtake the lead from former Canadian teammate, Mario Deslauriers, who, now riding for the United States, had posted a time of 42.47 seconds riding Urico. Three riders followed Lamaze, including 2004 Olympic Champion Rodrigo Pessoa, but none were able to better his performance. For the second time in three weeks, Lamaze stood in the winner’s circle collecting the first place prize money of $9,000.
“I felt she was ready to handle a little bit of speed at this height,” said Lamaze of the eight-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare purchased last spring. “She had great success in Europe last year jumping the seven-year-old classes, and that is what made her ready to do this as an eight-year-old. It sounds young to be in this class, but when you compete in Europe with a young horse in the big arenas, they learn quite quickly, so that is where her experience comes from. She is really, really special. She is very tiny, but she has a huge heart.”
Lamaze said of his jump-off strategy, “Mario is very fast, and his horse is very fast. I just tried to shorten the course as much as I could, and tried to go as fast as I could. She is really careful so you can come forward to a fence. For a young horse, I really risked a lot at the last fence. She never backed up, she just kept going, and she gave me a huge jump to finish. It felt like a fast round to me. I wasn’t sure if it was fast enough to win but, in the end, it was.”
His victory in the $30,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round V was Lamaze’s second victory of the day in the International Arena. In the morning, he won the $8,000 1.45m competition over 55 other entries riding Seraldo for All Seasons Farm.
“You are only as good as what you ride, and you can only have these horses based on the support of the owners,” noted Lamaze. “I have been blessed to have great ones.”
Lamaze will continue to compete throughout the 12-week FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, which runs through April 4. His Olympic mount, Hickstead, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood breeding stallion owned by Ashland Stables and Lamaze’s own Torrey Pines Stable, will begin competing later in the circuit.