Geneva, Switzerland—Dec. 9
The world’s top 10 riders gathered for a thrilling competition during the 16th edition of the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final at CHI Geneva. Crowds for the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final were treated to an evening of excitement, tension and elation as last to go, Eric Lamaze, produced a spectacular round to take title spot and reign victorious.
Staged over two nail-biting rounds without a jump-off, pin-point accuracy and upmost precision is required to win the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final. With five riders jumping fault-free in the first round, the stage was set for an exhilarating final round.
Christian Ahlmann took a commanding lead in Round 2, setting a superb time of 43.05 seconds, which looked hard to beat. The last three riders of the class to go were Steve Guerdat, Kevin Staut and Eric Lamaze. Even Olympic medalists Staut and Guerdat were unable to push Ahlmann out of title spot, leaving it to Canada’s Eric Lamaze to challenge the German rider.
In true Lamaze style, he looked to shave off fractions of seconds at every corner aboard his mare Fine Lady 5. With the packed crowd on the edge of their seats, and fixated on the clock, he finished in a time of 42.56 seconds, providing Lamaze with the narrowest of margins to win the class for the first time in his career and adding this title to the 2008 Olympic individual gold and bronze medalist’s stellar roster of global equestrian achievements.
Speaking after his victory, a delighted Lamaze said, “We all saw Christian go in the jump-off; I thought the competition was over. Fine Lady is naturally very fast but I knew I didn’t have any option but to try everything. I was lucky enough to have a galloping distance to the Rolex oxer at the end, I took the opportunity and I think that made the difference.
“Fine Lady 5 is an amazing horse. To win the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final, I could not ask for any more.
“Going last gave me an advantage in the jump-off,” said Lamaze, who is currently ranked No. 6 in the world. “I thought Christian Ahlmann was not going to be beatable, but my gallop to the last fence won it for me!
“It’s a big win!” continued Lamaze. “The Rolex Top 10 is one of the most prestigious competitions that we have throughout the year, showcasing the best riders in the world riding their best horses at this moment in time. A grand prix is a grand prix, but the Rolex Top Ten is something special. Having been second once before, having been so close, it means a lot to me to win. And especially on this mare that had such an unbelievable Olympics; it’s like her gold medal!”
Lamaze has contested the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final four previous times in his career with his best finish coming in 2011 when he was the runner-up riding Coriana van Klapscheut, also owned by Artisan Farms. His other three appearances, in 2008, 2009 and 2010, were all aboard the legendary stallion Hickstead, the horse that carried him to the 2008 Olympic championship title as well as the team silver for Canada. Lamaze is the only Canadian to have ever contested the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final in its 16-year history.
“As a Canadian, I am extremely proud to bring this title back to Canada,” said Lamaze, 48, who has won Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals for his country. “I hope this gives great hope to the new generation of riders back home. Everything is possible.”
Lamaze spoke to the importance of having great owners behind him, noting, “The support I received from Andy and Carlene Ziegler of Artisan Farms after the tragedy of losing Hickstead truly revived my career. I don’t know if I would be standing where I am today without them. I am so thankful to them, and so thankful to Rolex for putting on this amazing event. This is truly something special.”
Lamaze will contest the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon at CHI Geneva. Part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Geneva is the third leg each year following Aachen, Germany, in July and Calgary, Canada, in September. Great Britain’s Scott Brash is the current live contender for the €1 million bonus offered to any rider able to win all three grand prix events in succession, having won the last event at Calgary’s Spruce Meadows Masters. Also on Sunday will be
the retirement of Rolex Testimonee Steve Guerdat’s amazing horse, Nino des Buissonnets, in an emotional farewell after the Rolex Grand Prix. Aboard “Nino,” Guerdat claimed individual Olympic gold in 2012 and was second in two FEI World Cup Finals.
Guerdat obtained third spot tonight in the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final, with a superb performance riding Corbinian.
In 2001 the International Jumping Riders Club created the first Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final. The concept was initially conceived in the late 1990s with the idea to improve the formula of the ranking list and celebrate the success and talents of the finest show jumpers in the world.
The competition meant that the top 10 highest ranked riders in the world for that year were invited to go head-to-head. An idea similar to the ATP World Finals in tennis, which is also supported by Rolex, the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final is the only competition which is run by the competitors, through the IJRC.
The competition has been won by several of the greatest names in the sport including Rolex Testimonees Rodrigo Pessoa, Steve Guerdat, Scott Brash, Kent Farrington and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. Eric Lamaze now joins this group of legendary names engraved on the exclusive winner’s trophy.
FINAL RESULTS OF THE ROLEX IJRC TOP 10 FINAL
1. Eric Lamaze (CAN) riding Fine Lady 5
2. Christian Ahlmann (GER) riding Taloubet Z
3. Steve Guerdat (SUI) riding Corbinian
4. Kevin Staut (FRA) riding Reveur de Hurtebise HDC
5. Penelope Leprevost (FRA) riding Vagabond de la Pomme
6. Scott Brash (GBR) riding Hello M’Lady
7. Marcus Ehning (GER) riding Pret A Tout
8. Kent Farrington (USA) riding Creedance
9. Daniel Deusser (GER) riding First Class van Eeckelghem
10. Simon Delestre (FRA) riding Chadino