Wellington, FL – February 9, 2017 – Canadian Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze topped the $130,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 5 riding Fine Lady 5 on Thursday at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.
WEF 5, sponsored by Fidelity Investments®, features CSI 5* competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) through Sunday, February 12, 2017. Highlights include the $380,000 Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix CSI 5* on Saturday, as well as the $86,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic and the $50,000 Equo Grand Prix CSI 2* on Sunday. Live streaming for the week is available HERE. The 12-week WEF circuit continues through April 2, 2017, awarding over $9 million in prize money.
2012 London Olympic course designer Robert Ellis (GBR) built the track for 55 competitors in Thursday’s class. Fourteen horses advanced to the jump-off with Lamaze and Fine Lady 5, owned by Artisan Farms, LLC and Torrey Pines Stable, returning third to post a fault-free round in 41.23 seconds. His time could not be beat and gave Lamaze his second WEF Challenge Cup Series victory of the 2017 season after also winning round 3 with Houston.
Hardin Towell (USA) came the closest to bumping Lamaze from the top, but finished double clear in 43.72 seconds for second place riding Lucifer V, owned by Evergate Stables, LLC. From the lead-off position in the jump-off, Margie Engle (USA) settled for third with a double-clear effort in 45.27 seconds aboard Royce for owner Gladewinds Partners, LLC.
Mexico’s Alberto Michan stopped the clock clear in 45.69 seconds for fourth riding GC Chopin’s Bushi, owned by Iron Horse Farm, and Ben Maher (GBR) rounded out the top five with a double-clear finish in 45.80 seconds aboard Don Vito for Poden Farms.
“She is really an unbelievable horse,” said Lamaze of Fine Lady 5, the mount he piloted to an individual bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. “I have said it before; no one wants to compare anyone to Hickstead, but she is getting there slowly. For me, it is going to be the second horse of a lifetime.”
Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 in their winning presentation with ringmaster Steve Rector.
Thursday’s victory marked Lamaze’s 25th WEF Challenge Cup win in his career, four of which were in the irons of Fine Lady 5, a 14-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth FRH x Drosselklang II).
“I have been doing [the WEF Challenge Cup Series] for quite some time,” he said. “I think for [Fine Lady 5], she suits every sort of competition.”
Second place rider, Hardin Towell, was pleased with Lucifer V’s performance saying, “We were riding for second today. I knew I wasn’t going to catch [Eric]. Fine Lady is fast, and they looked fast today. I set my plan and went as quickly as I felt I could to leave up the jumps.”
Also competing in the International Arena on Thursday, Luis Larrazabal (VEN) won the $8,000 Douglas Elliman 1.45m CSI 2* speed class riding Atlodetto FZ, owned by San Francisco Stables, LLC.
The $2,500 Engel & Völkers High Amateur-Owner Jumper speed class saw a win for Cristobal Collado (MEX) riding Creativo, owned by E2 Stables, while Emma Heise (USA) riding Broekie claimed the $1,500 Sleepy P Ranch High Junior Jumper speed class for Old Willow Farm.
Challenge Cup Round 5 Results: