May 1, 2011 – Olympic Show Jumping Champion Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, riding Hickstead finished second in the 2011 Rolex FEI World Cup Final held April 27 to May 1 in Leipzig, Germany.
Over three days of intense competition, Lamaze and Hickstead climbed their way up the leader board. Following Thursday’s opening speed round, Lamaze and Hickstead were sitting in 17th position. A win in the second leg of competition on Friday saw Lamaze and Hickstead catapult into fifth position. Scores of zero and four faults in the final leg of competition on Sunday placed Lamaze second overall behind Germany’s Christian Ahlmann, who took the title riding Taloubet Z.
“I didn’t take a chance on the first day, I went very casual,” said Lamaze, who noted that the World Cup Final was only Hickstead’s second indoor competition of the season. “I knew he wasn’t ready for those inside turns and to be competitive in that event. I was hoping for a clear and it didn’t happen. I had to come from behind. When you are on a sports car like Hickstead, anything is possible.”
In Sunday’s two round final, Lamaze and Hickstead were fault-free over the first-round track set by German course designer, Frank Rothenberger, to move up into third position with a score of six penalties. Marco Kutscher of Germany still led the way with a perfect score of zero riding Cash while Alhmann, also of Germany, brought down a rail to add four penalties to his score.
Coming back for the second round, Hickstead hit the top plank at fence 10 for four penalties while Ahlmann was again clear, leaving it all up to Kutscher. The pressure proved too much, as Kutscher and Cash took down three rails to fall out of contention. Ahlmann won the 2011 Rolex FEI World Cup Final followed by Lamaze in second place and Dutchman Jeroen Dubbeldam in third riding BMC Van Grunsven Simon.
Despite an illustrious international career, 2011 marked the first World Cup Final appearance for the great stallion, Hickstead.
“I know my horse; he fights and he knows when it is important,” said Lamaze, who co-owns the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion with Ashland Stables. “He knew today was important and he delivered. That is when he’s at his best, when the jumps are high and the competition is tough. He gives you everything.”
Together, Lamaze and Hickstead have won Team Silver and Individual Bronze at the 2007 Pan American Games, Individual Gold and Team Silver at the 2008 Olympic Games, and Individual Bronze at the 2010 World Equestrian Games. They have also claimed two of the most prestigious events in the sport of show jumping: the $1 million CN International at the 2007 Spruce Meadows “Masters” in Calgary, AB, as well as the €350,000 Rolex Grand Prix of Aachen last July in Aachen, Germany. Now, the pair has finished as runner-ups in the annual Rolex FEI World Cup Final.
“He has had a great career and to add this day to it is wonderful, especially in front of Rolex, my new sponsors,” said Lamaze, who is currently ranked the number two show jumping rider in the world. “It’s a special moment for me.”
In preparation for the World Cup Final, Lamaze and Hickstead competed at the Paris Horse Show in France where they won the €100,000 1.60m Le Saut Hermès on Saturday, April 16. Paris marked their first indoor competition, as well as their first European competition, of the 2011 season.
Following the Rolex FEI World Cup Final, Lamaze and Hickstead will next compete at CSIO5* La Baule, France, followed by CSIO5* Rome, Italy. Lamaze will return to Canada in June to contest the Spruce Meadows summer tournaments in Calgary, AB.