La Baule, France—May 18
Eric Lamaze was smiling through tears as he accepted the top prize in the €200,000 Grand Prix of La Baule after a winning performance on Artisan Farms’ Powerplay.
It was an extremely emotional win for Lamaze, who won the La Baule event on one other occasion in his career, in 2011 with the magnificent Hickstead.
“This is the first five-star grand prix that I’ve won since Hickstead [passed away],” said Lamaze, who was smiling from ear to ear as tears rolled down his cheeks. “It is super exciting to win this grand prix. It’s a grand prix that I’ve won before; I know what it feels like to win in La Baule!”
Fifty of the best horses and riders in the world attempted the €200,000 Grand Prix of La Baule with nine jumping the first round clear to advance to the jump-off. Lamaze, who was eighth to return, set off at a full gallop, skillfully encouraging Powerplay across the ground and making tight turns back to the obstacles.
He raced through the timers in 35.83 seconds to easily eclipse the time of 37.53 set by Abdelkebir Ouaddar of Morocco riding Quickly de Kreisker. France’s own Patrice Delaveau placed third with a time of 37.60 seconds with Carinjo HDC.
See a video of Lamaze's amazing jump-off rider and the wondefully ecstatic awards ceremony...
Powerplay stepped into big shoes by claiming the La Baule victory. Acquired by Artisan Farms LLC last spring from Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer, Powerplay, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Casall--Perlmutt, Limbus), has been in Lamaze’s barn for almost one full year.
“I’ve never asked Powerplay to do something like this and to go so fast,” explained Lamaze, who in a spur of the moment display of delight, leapt off the podium during the awards presentation to spray the supportive audience with celebratory champagne.
“Last year was a learning year with the horse. I’ve really taken my time with him and been respectful of how careful he is. He’s not a super-fast horse, but sometimes when you get to know a horse, you know when you can take risks,” he continued.
“Today, it felt like it was time to be competitive. It felt like the time was right for me to ask him to do this.”
La Baule marked the third five-star grand prix in a row that Powerplay has jumped clear, having placed sixth in the €300,000 Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in Antwerp, Belgium, with 1 time fault and been clear in the opening round of the €300,000 Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in Madrid, Spain.
While the Maple Leaf flew over the awards ceremonies after the grand prix, a few days earlier, the home team clinched a big win in the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ on May 16.
With less than 100 days to go to the opening of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, it was the perfect result for the country that will play host to the equestrian world in just over three months’ time.
“It is always great to win in front of your home crowd, but this means even more!” said French Chef d’Equipe Philippe Guerdat this afternoon. “This will help to motivate everyone—the riders, the public and everyone else—when they see that we in France are really strong and really competitive ahead of the WEG. I’m very happy with the way things went today,” he added.
However before they earned their spot on the top step of the prize-winners podium, the French first had to quell a spirited performance from a strong Belgian side that eventually settled for runner-up spot in this second leg of the Europe Division 1 series. Ireland and Great Britain finished joint third, while the Spanish rallied brilliantly to share fifth with Brazil and the Netherlands. For Switzerland however it was complete contrast to their winning effort at Lummen, Belgium two weeks ago when they finished last at the end of a disappointing day.
1. France 4 faults: Dame Blanche van Arenberg (Penelope Leprevost) 0/0, Armitages Boy (Aymeric de Ponnat) 0/0, Quartz Rouge (Jerome Hurel) 4/0, Reveur de Hurtebise HDC (Kevin Staut) 8/DNS.
2. Belgium 8 faults: Polinska des Isles (Francois Mathy Jr) 12/8, Cabrio van de Heffinck (Olivier Philippaerts) 0/0, Domino (Jos Verlooy) 0/8, Sea Coast Forlap (Gregory Wathelet) 0/0.
3. Ireland 12 faults: All Star (Denis Lynch) 0/4, Antello Z (Cameron Hanley) 4/4, Quidam's Cherie (Cian O'Connor) 4/0, Diaghilev (Billy Twomey) 8/0.
3. Great Britain 12 faults: Urico (Ben Maher) 4/0, Utamaro D'Ecaussines (Joe Clee) 0/4, Unex Chamberlain Z (Tim Gredley) Elim/Elim, Amai (Michael Whitaker) 4/0.
5. Spain 16 faults: Darius 2 (Manuel Saro) 8/4, Notre Star de la Nutria (Paola Amilibia) 8/12, Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot (Eduardo Aznar) 4/0, Carlo (Sergio Moya) 0/0.
5. Brazil 16 faults: Status (Rodrigo Pessoa) 12/0, First Devision (Yuri Mansur Guerios) 4/4, Quintol (Eduardo Menezes) 8/4, Ad Clouwni (Marlon Zanotelli) 0/0.
5. Netherlands 16 faults: Quinlan (Vincent Voorn) 8/0, Very Nice (Timothy Hendrix) 4/8, Avion (Willem Greve) 12/4, VDL Bubalu (Jur Vrieling) 0/0.
8. Switzerland 20 faults: Toulago (Pius Schwizer) 4/4, Pablo de Virion (Jane Richad Philips) 0/4, Concetto Son (Steve Guerdat) 20/4, Castlefield Eclipse (Paul Estermann) 4/4.