Eric Lamaze isn’t giving up his leading all-time money winner title at Spruce Meadows anytime soon.
The Canadian Olympic gold medalist, and leading man in a legion of jumping fans fictional romance novels, scored back-to-back-to-back victories at the CSI5* Spruce Meadows Continental tournament in Calgary, AB, over the weekend.
On Friday night, Lamaze won the $131,600 Scotiabank Cup after qualifying both Chacco Kid and Fine Lady 5 for the eight-horse jump-off.
Aboard the 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding, he posted a time of 37.13 seconds over Guilherme Jorge’s short course to move into the lead by over two seconds. Nineteen-year-old Lucy Deslauriers (USA) and Hester set the time to beat at 39.16 seconds, but were forced to settle for second.
“Most grand prix events don’t even offer $100,000 in prize money so when you’re going for $131,000 on a Friday night, you are jumping for real money,” said the three-time Olympic medalist. “It was an incredible class. The track that Guilherme set was built for speed. If you wanted to win, you had to be committed.”
Lamaze elected to save his 2016 Rio Olympic bronze medal partner, Fine Lady 5, for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
“After the jump-off round I had with Chacco, I didn’t think I could possibly go any faster with Fine Lady!” said Lamaze.
On Saturday, the 50-year-old jumper returned to the Meadows on the Green arena to claim victory in the $70,200 Canadian Utilities Cup aboard a new mount, Saura de Fondcombe.
Tenth to return in the jump off, Lamaze and the 12-year-old Selle Francais mare stopped the clock in a time 35.38 seconds, bumping Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Quintin from the lead.
“[Friday] night, the jump-off was insane! [Saturday] was a little more subdued,” laughed Lamaze, who also finished second in Thursday night’s $40,000 1.50m Husky Energy Classic with Saura de Fondcombe.
“It was a solid 1.50m course with 12 clear, and I had a good position going towards the end. She is a very careful, genuine mare. She’s had a lot of experience at this level and you can take a lot of risk. She’s a really good horse.”
On Sunday, the world #11 made it a three-peat at the storied venue, capturing the $385,000 CSI5* ‘Continental’ Grand Prix with Fine Lady 5.
Lamaze and the 15-year-old Hanoverian mare were one of seven combinations to qualify for the jump-off. Once again chasing the time posted by Deslauriers and Hester, he pipped the 19-year-old to the post, stopping the clock in 43.22 seconds to Deslauriers’s 43.66.
The 5* victory is just one more feather in the already decorated cap of a horse that was never intended for the grand prix ring.
“Fine Lady was purchased as a speed horse, as a 1.45m/1.50m ranking horse,” explained Lamaze. “Prior to the Rio Olympics, we stepped her up and put her in some big competitions here at Spruce Meadows in the Summer Series and she just blossomed. Then we moved her up at Aachen and she won. At the Olympics I couldn’t believe it; the final round was big and although I wouldn’t say she jumped it easily—none of the horses jumped it easily—she jumped it. It was a very pleasant surprise.”
And one that he hopes to repeat at Tryon this summer. Fine Lady 5 is Lamaze’s intended mount for the World Equestrian Games.
The Canadian Olympian will take a week off from competition before returning to Calgary for the Pan American and North American tournaments at Spruce Meadows.