Rome, Italy—May 25
One week following his win in the €200,000 Grand Prix of La Baule (France) Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze made it two in a row by claiming the €200,000 Grand Prix of Rome.
When Lamaze won the Grand Prix of La Baule, France on May 18 riding Powerplay, it marked his first five-star victory since his partnership with Hickstead. His victory in Rome came on Zigali P S.
In an incredible twist of fate, Lamaze also won the Grand Prix of La Baule and the Grand Prix of Rome back-to-back in 2011 with Hickstead, just months before the great stallion’s tragic death.
“It’s so hard to win these grand prix events, especially with two different horses,” said Lamaze of Schomberg, Ontario. “Before La Baule it was a long time since I had won anything and now I’ve won a grand prix two weeks in a row!
“In this sport sometimes things go your way, there’s no explaining it. These last two weeks things have really worked out for me.”
Having used Zigali P S as a second horse to Powerplay in European competition this spring, Lamaze decided it was time for him to step into the spotlight for the Grand Prix of Rome. Thirteen of the 50 starters advanced to the jump-off. When Lamaze entered the arena later in the jump-off order, he was chasing the time of 42.26 seconds set by Dutchman Frank Schuttert. Lamaze shaved almost a full second off the leading time, stopping the timers in 41.29 seconds.
Next in, British legend Michael Whitaker came within fractions of catching Lamaze but, in the end, his time of 41.31 seconds with Viking would only prove good enough for second place.
“Zigali is a super-fast horse, he can leave strides out and can keep his jump,” said Lamaze of the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Kigali x STB-H Palfrenier) purchased by Carlene and Andy Ziegler’s Artisan Farms last November.
“There were so many wonderful riders in that jump-off today and it could have gone anybody’s way. It’s luck that decides who wins, but it does pay off when you go later in the jump-off and you can see the lines the others are taking, and their times,” Lamaze said.
Lamaze admitted that he took a break from competing at a top level for a year in 2013. “I decided to stop and to take a break from the sport for two reasons, a) because I had run out of horses and b) because I wanted to,” he said.
“It was good for me too, and then the Zieglers and Artisan Farms purchased new horses for me. It took a bit of time for me to get to know them, but its definitely coming together for me.
“For sure the win at La Baule [with Powerplay] gave me great confidence, and in the first class here I felt really good about everything. Sometimes you lose confidence a bit but when you get it back you do things you wouldn’t otherwise do in a jump-off!” he said. Lamaze and Zigali P S had opened the four-day show jumping tournament in Rome with a win in the €24,000 1.50m Premio 3.
“The faith I had in these horses is paying off,” said Lamaze. “We are really clicking; everything is coming together between myself and the horses. I’ve spent time really getting to know them, and the moment has come now. Yes, I won these two events before with Hickstead, but to do it again now with two different horses really shows the depth of horses that we have. With the Ziegler family behind us purchasing these great horses, I can’t help but to feel like we’re back in the sport.”