Three-time Olympic medalist Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 won the $500,000 ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup on Saturday, July 7, at the CSI5* Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ tournament, presented by Rolex, in Calgary, AB.
The victory marked the third one of the week for Lamaze and the second for Fine Lady 5, a 15-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) owned by Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable. Having won Thursday evening’s demanding $131,600 1.55m Progress Energy Cup, the pair were poised for another win. They did not disappoint their legion of fans and were the only horse-rider combination to successfully jump the two-round track set by Spanish course designer Santiago Varela without fault.
“I really respect this fantastic mare,” said Lamaze of his 2016 Olympic individual bronze medal partner. “She gives me everything she has and really understands the competition. We had a few rattles in the first round, and it made her that much better for the second round.”
Eight riders jumped clear in the first round, but Lamaze was the first to repeat his faultless performance in the second round. There was only one competitor still to come who could potentially match his clear scorecard to force a jump-off, the formidable Kent Farrington of the United States aboard Creedance. When a rail fell, the cheer went up from the crowd for a Canadian victory.
“It really begins in the second round,” Lamaze said of the format that sees the top 12 riders following the opening round of competition move forward, carrying their faults with them. “I’m not going to lie; I wasn’t happy with who was coming behind me! Fortunately, I was sitting on my best horse with the most experience. I know this arena very well, I’ve jumped in it many times, and that gives you an advantage when it comes to the second round.”
Currently ranked number four in the World Rider Rankings, Lamaze’s win in the $500,000 ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup capped a tremendous four weeks of competition comprising the Spruce Meadows ‘Summer Series’. The 2008 Olympic champion claimed no fewer than six victories with four different horses, namely Fine Lady 5, Chacco Kid, Chesney, and Saura de Fondombe.
“It’s a long, grueling four weeks of competition but every win at Spruce Meadows in the International Ring is special to me,” said Lamaze, 50, who is the all-time leading money winner at the renowned Calgary show jumping venue with earnings in excess of $5.6 million. “Spruce Meadows makes great riders and horses. I will never change my mind on that.”
Lamaze, who divides his time between training bases in Wellington, FL, and Brussels, Belgium, said, “Every sport in the world is about confidence. Any win at a five-star competition with these types of jumps does tremendous things for your confidence. My next show with Fine Lady is Aachen (Germany), and I’ll be able to walk in there carrying this confidence.”
The 2018 edition of CSIO5* Aachen runs from July 17 to 22. Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 are the defending champions of the €100,000 Turkish Airlines Prize of Europe, having won the past two years in a row.