Canada’s Eric Lamaze scored his fifth win in the Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Series, setting a record for the most wins in one season. Riding Fine Lady 5, the 2008 Olympic Champion won the $34,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round XI on Thursday, March 19, at the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL.
Lamaze won the first four Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup events, held each , at this year’s Winter Equestrian Festival. He saddled up Rosana du Park for back-to-back victories in weeks one and two, which were immediately followed by two more wins in weeks three and four riding Fine Lady 5.
In Week 11, Fine Lady 5 was back in the winner’s circle, having topped a starting field of 61 entries for the win. As the 11th rider to return in an 18-horse jump-off, Lamaze posted a blistering fast time of 34.47 seconds that would prove impossible to beat. Several riders that followed came close but fell short in the end, leaving Ramiro Quintana of Argentina as the runner-up with a time of 35.21 seconds riding Whitney while Ireland’s Darragh Kenny took third with a time of 36.09 seconds riding Sans Souci Z.
“I know that the mare is very fast,” said Lamaze of Fine Lady 5, a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II) that was purchased last April by Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms LLC. “She’s just such a fast horse across the ground and great at turning back. All of my distances came forward out of the turns and I just let her do her thing. She’s deadly careful. All you have to do is find the right distance, and that’s it.”
Lamaze shared his thoughts on the track set by German course designer Olaf Petersen Jr. that yielded 18 clear rounds.
“It was not the biggest WEF we’ve had height-wise, but it was very technical, and I think if they had left the original time allowed, it would have come down to a lot less in the jump-off,” said Lamaze of the decision to increase the time allowed to complete the first round from 77 to 79 seconds. “I thought the original time allowed was perfect. I didn’t see the point in raising it. The course was good. It didn’t need more in height; next week is going to be a big week, and we’ve already had many big weeks. I think he’s a very good course builder, just the time allowed could have stayed at its original time and I think we would have had 10 clear. But it’s a class, so it’s okay to have a few more clear than normal.”
In addition to winning a record fifth WEF Challenge Cup, Lamaze has also collected a record $15,000 to date in the SSG Gloves “Go Clean for the Green” promotion. Each week, SSG Gloves offers a $3,000 bonus to the winning rider in the Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup if they are wearing SSG ‘Digital’ riding gloves.
“Fifteen thousand dollars just for wearing great gloves? That’s pretty cool!” exclaimed Lamaze when he was presented with his fifth bonus of $3,000. “It’s a great added bonus. The WEF has great prize money throughout the season, and to have this bonus on top of it just makes it better, plus it’s great to wear the gloves. Like I said from the beginning, I don’t see why somebody wouldn’t wear them.”
In addition to his own victory, Lamaze was happy with the performances of the riders he helps to train.
“I was also really pleased today with Caitlin Ziegler, who is forming a great team with Powerplay, qualifying for the grand prix,” said Lamaze of his long-time student, who has recently taken over the reins on his former mount. In addition to Caitlin Ziegler, Lamaze helps fellow Canadians Bretton Chad riding Quelmec du Gery and Yann Candele riding First Choice 15, both of whom also qualified for night’s $127,000 CSI4* Engel & Volkers Grand Prix based on their results in the WEF Challenge Cup Round XI. “It’s not just about me; all in all as a stable, we had a very good day.”
Fine Lady 5 will be Lamaze’s mount for night’s $127,000 CSI4* Engel & Volkers Grand Prix. She will then enjoy a week’s rest before heading to Miami for the Global Champions Tour. Looking ahead, Lamaze is considering Fine Lady 5 as his mount for the 2015 Pan American Games to be hosted by Toronto, Canada, in July.
For more information on Eric Lamaze, please visit www.ericlamaze.com.