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September 11, 2011

Hickstead Finds His Way Home To The Win At The CN International

Eric Lamaze got to hoist the CN International Grand Prix trophy aloft again after a thrilling class.

Calgary, Alta., Sept. 11

There seemed to be no way Hickstead was going to jump clean through the tight one-stride combination of verticals as he came rocketing into it. But he landed after the first, put in a quick pitter-pat of a stride, and then pinged up over the second vertical, flipping his hind end over it almost with disdain.

It was then that Eric Lamaze knew he had the $1,002,259 CN International Grand Prix won.

“Once he jumped that so well, I knew I just had to get him straight to the jumps and stay out of his way,” said Lamaze. “He knew his way home.” That he did—Hickstead cruised over the next two jumps with his typical verve and spring. As they landed off the last, Lamaze started celebrating to the soundtrack of the crowd’s deafening cheers. He tossed his helmet in the air, broke into a smile that didn’t fade for hours, and galloped jubilantly around the ring.

“To win here, in this grand prix, is what I dreamed about when I was a when I was a kid,” said Lamaze, of Canada, who also won the class in 2007 with Hickstead. “For me, this is just as exciting as the first time I won. When you have a great horse who tries this hard, you want that title attached to his name as many times as possible. I think he’s the best horse in the world, and it means a lot that he can show it to the crowds here.”

Hickstead and Lamaze don't spend much time in Canada. Lamaze spends the winter in Wellington, Fla., and bases his Torrey Pines Stables in Belgium for the summer. The reigning individual Olympic gold medalist spends a few weeks each summer showing at Spruce Meadows, and always returns home for the Spruce Meadows Masters. 

High Drama In Round 2
Lamaze and Hickstead won the class with the only double-clean performance of the day. Belgian rider Niels Bruynseels, 28, claimed second on the gray mare Nasa, while young whippersnapper Martin Fuchs, just 19 and showing in his first CSIO***** grand prix, rode Principal to third. The highest placed U.S. rider was Lauren Hough in a tie for 11th.

The dastardly double of verticals where Hickstead put on such a show of athleticism is where Fuchs came to grief in the second round. The young son of Swiss show jumper Thomas Fuchs (and nephew of show jumper Markus Fuchs) had ridden Principal to a clean round over the first course. “I was crazy after that! I was so proud of him,” Fuchs said. "When I was walking the first course, I was like a tourist out there, posing with the jumps for photos because they were so big!" He and Lamaze were the only clear first rounds.

Fuchs and Principal, a classy gray 15-year-old, were jumping well in Round 2, but Fuchs left a stride out in the line from a wide triple bar to the double of verticals and the one-stride distance in the double was impossible for Principal. He chested the B element, collecting the 4 faults that would drop them to third. “I don’t know what I was thinking about—maybe I was too busy looking at some pretty girls in the stands,” Fuchs joked about the mistake.

Fuchs and Bruynseels both finished with 4 faults to their name after the two rounds, but the second-round time was the deciding factor of ties, and Bruynseels was .01 seconds faster than Fuchs.

Bruynseels was in eighth after Round 1, where he’d had a rail, and he was a bit surprised to have vaulted up the rankings so dramatically after his clear second round. “I gave everything and my horse gave everything to jump clear,” said Bruynseels, who actually rides with limited vision in his left eye. He head is always turned to the left while on course to compensate.

The second round turned out to be full of drama. After Bruynseels had set the pace as the fifth to go, rails started to fall like rain. Hough had been in seventh after Round 1, with just 4 faults to her name. But Quick Study took a strong dislike to a double of oxers and stopped twice, eliminating them from the second round. She ended up tied for 11th with Leon Thijssen, who was also eliminated. He came into the tight double of verticals with a lot of pace, and Tyson tried to bounce the combination, catapulting through the rails and landing on his knees, depositing Thijssen to the turf. Both horse and rider got up and walked out of the ring.

Hough was the only American—and the only woman—in the 12-rider second round. Beezie Madden was the next-highest placed U.S. rider, in 15th. She and Cortes C had two rails early in the course, at a plank vertical and then at an oxer off a rollback turn from the vertical. Kirsten Coe was 22nd with 10 faults, and Richard Spooner was 23rd with three rails on Cristallo. Kent Farrington rounded out the U.S. efforts with 12 faults on Uceko to take 25th.

See the full result of the class here. And read about all the action in the BMO Nations Cup here.



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