Calgary, Alb. – June 8, 2019 – Saturday afternoon at the Spruce Meadows ‘National’ Tournament welcomed top international competition as the week’s events culminated with the $500,000 RBC Grand Prix of Canada CSI5*, presented by Rolex. The International Ring welcomed 42 horse-and-rider combinations in the first round, and in an emotional return to the top of the sport, it was Canada’s own Eric Lamaze who emerged the winner with his mount Chacco Kid.
Created by Canadian course designer Peter Grant, the 1.60m track played fair to the horses but asked technical questions in critical spots. The famous Beijing wall was followed by the open water, two obstacles at Spruce Meadows known for being difficult, and each took their fair share of faults. The double liverpools, which cause horses to peek down and often pull a rail, also kept many pairs from advancing to the jump-off.
The first clear finish in round one was set by Nicole Walker (CAN) and Falco Van Spieveld, and was matched just two rounds later by Jordan Coyle (IRL) and Eristov. At the end of round one, Capt. Brian Cournane (IRL) and Armik, Conor Swail (IRL) and Koss Van Heiste, Lamaze and Chacco Kid, Beezie Madden (USA) and Coach, and Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Albfuehren’s Bianca had all added their names to the list of those who would get a shot at the lion’s share of the prize money.
In an exciting and fast jump-off, the International Ring was cleared except for nine efforts, giving athletes the opportunity to gallop their partners across the huge grass field. The first double-clear round was posted by Swail and Koss Van Heiste, a 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Eadaoin Collins. The pair crossed the timers in 47.20 seconds, which would eventually land them in third place.
Crowd favorite and all-time money leader at Spruce Meadows, Lamaze is no stranger to the winner’s circle, and Saturday had special meaning to him, as the last time he won this specific class was with his famed mount Hickstead. With two very fast riders behind him, Lamaze asked everything of Chacco Kid, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by The Chacco Group, and he delivered. Their gallop to the last fence and Chacco Kid’s quick style in the air secured them the win in a blazing time of 46.25 seconds.
New to the Spruce Meadows Summer Series this year, Guerdat had the enviable position of last to go in the jump-off, where he left it all on the table but was ultimately not able to catch Lamaze. His own 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare Albfuehren’s Bianca ran to second place in a time of 46.96 seconds.
Competition wraps up at the Spruce Meadows ‘National’ on Sunday, but returns again with CSI5* competition on Wednesday, June 12, with the start of the ‘Continential’ tournament.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Eric Lamaze – RBC Grand Prix of Canada winner
“It’s been a long journey and at one point it was just a dream for me to be able to come back here and compete. With a lot of support from great friends, like Steve [Guerdat], clients, my staff, and people around the world we just kept on fighting and the dream came true. This is just the icing on the cake. With the great Hickstead was the last time that I won this grand prix, so he was looking out for me today.”
On his relationship with horses and his recovery.:
“The short story is that this is our livelihood but we are very close to these animals and we have great respect for what they do for us. They have great respect for the understanding of my absence for a long time and me getting back on. I must say, other than my close friends, my horses are a big part of why I am here today. I don’t know which level of the sport I will continue riding at as the years go on, but the horses will be part of my life until the day that it is no longer possible. My fight right now is to keep riding and I will fight everyday to keep doing this because the horses are the greatest therapy that you can have.”
On Chacco Kid and competing at Spruce Meadows:
“This is his first real grand prix in the International Ring. He has always been very careful. At times I question how much power he has to jump the jumps, especially here the way they build the courses. But I’ve said it many times and I’ll keep saying it, I do believe that Spruce Meadows makes horses. Chacco Kid arrived here three years ago now and he is a better horse today because of it here. Every horse that I have taken here has always improved and gone on to reward me with some great things. I can’t say enough about this facility and what it really does to a horse. If you question their scope and their stride, they’re going to learn here. If they aren’t brave enough, you will also know.”
On his round:
“I carried a lot of emotion out there and I question myself a lot between distances that I take. Before everything, they came to me and now I’m still taking them but I’m second guessing myself doing it. I guess that’s where the difference is now. Sometimes I make the wrong choice and the horses cover it up. We make mistakes that horses cover up for us and we give them a big pat at the end of the day. There is no such thing as a perfect round. The horses also have a sense of where you are and this horse fights really hard for spots I put him in sometimes.”
On the course and the jump-off:
“Nerves is something we deal with all of the time. It’s a pressure situation. There were seven fast riders in this jump-off. Sometimes the draw and the order that you go in these jump-offs can be fairly rewarding. Especially here in Spruce Meadows to be able to watch someone go and try to beat their time towards the end. If you’re first in, you often know what is coming after you. You have to take all the chances you can to hope that it will hold up. You have to go for it, there’s no holding back because you know what is coming. After I came out of the ring, the worst I could be was third. I was really happy with that. Seven [clears] was perfect number. The course designer did a fantastic job. It was a course that I walked this morning without the actual height set, so I was a little concerned once I saw the height. I was ready to leave my boots in the car. Whenever there is a triple like 13a-b-c, it’s never easy. It comes down to a test for the rider and the horse. It was a very fair course that demanded some scope, speed, and the tough water jump.”
On his comeback:
“I’ll let you in on a little secret – not every win do you ride perfectly. Sometimes you win and there are a few mistakes, but because you win you overlook them. But that’s what I tell my students – you learn the least when you win because we don’t success the few mistakes. It’s when things go badly that you learn the most. I’m happy to have won today, but I still missing a beat out there here and there but my horse is a fighter and he put up a good fight for me today. I consider today a gift. This is an ongoing battle for me and today is a gift.”
On what’s next:
“We have some young horses that we have here and are bringing up for the future. Some of them, it’s their first time at Spruce Meadows and they’re doing the 1.45m FEI classes and I have really great hope for those horses. I also have a new horse that just came a day before I came here. I did a 1.25m with him the other day and I think he is going to be a star. It’s always exciting here. The excitement for me at Spruce Meadows is the whole package – to bring my students and see them grow and bring young horses to see them grow. It’s always been about that for me. I’ve always said that if you win a competition here, you can win it anywhere in the world.”
Steve Guerdat – second place
On seeing Eric Lamaze win:
“I think most of you all know that I normally don’t like to be beaten, but when I saw ‘second’ on the screen [after my round], it made me really happy because that meant Eric won. Eric has always been an inspiration for all of us for many things. I think today if he had just put in a nice round, he would have been a hero already. To go in and win it, I have no words. We always talk about superheroes in different sports, like tennis or football, but I don’t think any of them have done what this guy has done. I’m blessed to be his friend and so happy to see him back winning this kind of class.”
Conor Swail – third place
On what he can learn from Eric:
“Actually the last time I was in here, I was lucky enough to win and Eric was second. That was three years ago I think. I’ve been around Eric and Spruce Meadows for five or six years now and it’s very hard to get past guys like Eric or McLain [Ward], we’re lucky enough to have Steve [Guerdat] here this year, Kent [Farrington], Beezie [Madden] – if you win here, you deserve it. The speed we go here is a little bit different tempo than in Europe and I’ve been around here long enough that I’ve learned it from the likes of those people. Being here and watching those guys do it well, do it right, do it smoothly – it’s fantastic.”
Peter Grant – Course designer
On the course:
“It was a fantastic day. It was a nerve wracking 24 hours leading up to the class today. Today I was extremely pleased with it and it was just a fantastic day. We had great sport and I think everyone knows what Eric has done for the other riders in our sport and our country. He has influenced a lot of us to doing great things for Canada. We were never really a strong showjumping country before what he did for us in Beijing and everything with Hickstead. To then do it with other horses afterwards, it was a great motivation for us. Anytime you can build for riders at this level is an honor, especially here. “
$500,000 RBC Grand Prix of Canada Presented by Rolex
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / R1 Time / R2 Faults / R2 Time
1. Chacco Kid / Eric Lamaze / CAN / The Chacco Group / 0 / 84.15 / 0 46.25
2. Albfuehren’s Bianca / Steve Guerdat / SWI / Steve Guerdat / 0 / 85.69 / 0 46.96
3. Koss Van Heiste / Conor Swail / IRL / Eadaoin Collins / 0 / 82.95 / 0 47.20
4. Coach / Beezie Madden / USA / Abigail Wexner / 0 / 84.10 / 4 / 44.62
5. Falco Van Spieveld / Nicole Walker / CAN / Nicole Walker / 0 / 82.98 / 45.82
6. Eristov / Jordan Coyle / IRL / Elan Farm / 0 / 83.48 / 4 / 46.17
7. Armik / Capt. Brian Cournne / IRL / Bob & Christine Stiller / 0 / 83.62 / 12 / 48.57
8. Parette / Lisa Carlsen / CAN / Lisa Carlsen / 1 / 87.71
9. Hester / Lucy Deslauriers / USA / Lisa Deslauriers / 4 / 84.42
10. Fedor / Scott Keach / AUS / Southern Cross Equestrian / 4 / 84.75
11. Gelvins Touch / Dermott Lennon / IRL / Victoria Loane / 4 / 85.51
12. Suma’s Zorro / Sameh El Dahan / Joanne Sloan Allen / 4 / 85.60
Click here for full results.