Crepes from Loopy’s, drinks at the Players Club, Eric Lamaze winning the WEF Challenge Cup—some things you can count on every year at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
Twenty-eighteen is proving no exception.
On Thursday, Lamaze delivered the first of what will no doubt be many wins of the 2018 season, claiming victory in the $35,000 CSI2* Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round II with Chacco Kid. It’s a class the three-time Olympic medalist has won no fewer than 25 times previously.
And his most recent victory was a decisive one at that.
Of the 109 starters, nine qualified for the jump-off. Lamaze and Chacco Kid stopped the clock at 34.68 seconds—a full two seconds faster than runner ups Emanuele Camilli (ITL), Cian O’Connor (IRL) and Paul O’Shea (IRL), all of whom incredibly crossed the timers in exactly 36.76 seconds.
The secret to Lamaze’s WEF Challenge Cup success? No down time.
The Canadian Olympian wrapped up the 2017 show season by competing at CSI5* events in Paris, France and Geneva, Switzerland in December, before relocating to Florida for the winter season.
“Every year at the start of WEF, I use a horse that is coming off Paris and Geneva; rather than give them a rest, I keep them going and compete with them in Florida as they are already in form,” explained Lamaze.
“For a lot of the riders, their horses have been on a lay-off. Today’s class was very competitive with 109 starters, but it was nice for Chacco Kid to do a round at a lower height of 1.45m than he was jumping in Paris and Geneva. When it comes to the jump-off, he has the experience going fast, I know him well, and I don’t mind taking some risks that perhaps a year ago I wasn’t comfortable doing.”
Don’t look for any breaks in Lamaze’s hectic show schedule any time soon, either.
The 49-year-old rider is cutting short his Wellington circuit this year to
give another rider the chance to win the WEF Challenge Cup target the Dutch Masters in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Holland and the Global Champions Tour in Mexico City in March.
“Of course, we have World Championships to think about this year as well,” said Lamaze. “You try to target one or two horses towards that, keep competing, and pick the one that is performing the best at the time.”
Presumably, it’ll be the one not enjoying a long nap.