The 2015 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) continued its fourth week of competition on Thursday with an incredible fourth consecutive win for Canada's Eric Lamaze in the Ruby et Violette Challenge Cup Series. One of the most competitive classes each week with a roster of top international horses and riders, Lamaze won the first two classes of the series riding Rosana du Park and earned his third and now fourth victories aboard Fine Lady 5. He rides both horses for Artisan Farms LLC.
WEF 4, sponsored by Fidelity Investments®, continues through Sunday, February 1, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL. The week will feature the $372,000 FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix CSI-W 5*, presented by Fidelity Investments®, on Saturday, January 31. Other highlights include the $25,000 Artisan Farms Under 25 Grand Prix Team Event, presented by the McNerney Family, on Friday, January 30, at 4 pm at The Stadium at PBIEC, and the $85,000 Suncast® 1.50M Championship Classic on Sunday, February 1.
The $50,000 Wellington Eventing Showcase, presented by Asheville Regional Airport, will also be held on Friday and Saturday, January 30-31. The special showcase will feature some of eventing's top horses and riders competing for phenomenal prize money in the winter equestrian capital of the world.
All three phases of the $50,000 Wellington Eventing Showcase, presented by Asheville Regional Airport, and Saturday night's $372,000 FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix CSI-W 5*, presented by Fidelity Investments®, will be live streamed at www.COTH.com.
Thursday's $127,000 Ruby et Violette WEF Challenge Cup Round 4 was held as a speed class. Course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) set the track for 72 starters with 14 clear rounds. Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 earned their victory with the fastest round of the day, clear in 63.08 seconds. Andrew Ramsay (USA) and Winn Winn finished second in 65.13 seconds. Marie Hecart (FRA) and Myself de Breve placed third in 66.41 seconds.
Fine Lady 5 is a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare by Forsyth x Drosselklang II. Lamaze paired up with the mare last spring, and together, they have won numerous classes around the world. "She is my kind of horse. She knows why she is out there," Lamaze said of Fine Lady. "She is competitive, she likes to fight, she is a blood horse and she was winning before I got her, so this is nothing new to her. I am just continuing what she was already doing. I'd love to take all the credit, but this is a great horse."
Commenting on his incredible success early in the season, Lamaze stated, "I have some very good, well rested horses at the moment, and I take Florida seriously. That is why I stopped after Barcelona and let all of the horses rest, to try to come here and have them really fresh to compete. You don't expect to win three in a row, you don't expect to win four in a row, but when you have good, competitive horses, anything can happen. McLain (Ward) had a blistering round today. He was really, really fast and he just toed a fence off. Sometimes you just need a little luck. When you play the game at this level, and you are competitive, you need a little luck."
"I think the way you select your horses for these events is so important," Lamaze added. "You have to pick the right horse out of the barn. If you have the luxury of having a few, you need to pick the right one for the right class, out of the box and the one that's fresh. We are already planning for the last few weeks of the circuit which horses we are going to use. It is all about the right planning and sometimes you can easily make a mistake and put the wrong horse at the wrong time. This year I seem to have a plan that has worked with some very talented horses. That is the secret of a long circuit like this. You need to juggle things around in a way that is going to work for you. I guess we have the recipe for Thursday right, now we just have to get it for Saturday too."
"She is dependable when you get to the fence," he detailed of Fine Lady's performance. "You give her a fair chance to see where she is going and she is going to give you all she has. She is very quick across the ground and quick in the air. An oxer-vertical-vertical (triple combination) is not a difficult exercise for her, so I knew I could trust her there. I was a little wide to the skinny, but at the end she just carries natural speed."
Even the world's best horses and riders have their challenges every now and then, and Lamaze laughed when explaining that he almost fell off of Fine Lady in the warm-up ring this morning.
"She is laid back, but she is petrified of other horses coming towards her," he stated. "When you are just walking on her you have to really be careful. This morning even in the FEI practice ring I almost fell off. She sees a horse coming towards her, and she is very shy about that. She has her own little way, but all the great horses all have their little quirks about them. She is a great horse."
Lamaze and Fine Lady will now head on to contest Saturday night's $372,000 FEI World Cup™ Grand Prix CSI-W 5*, presented by Fidelity Investments®. Lamaze hopes to continue their success with a Saturday night win.
In addition to Thursday's winning portion of prize money, Lamaze was awarded the $3,000 SSG Gloves "Go Clean for the Green" bonus for the fourth week in a row. Each week of the WEF Challenge Cup Series, a $3,000 bonus will be awarded to the winning rider if they are wearing SSG 'Digital' Riding Gloves in all rounds of competition with the SSG logo clearly visible. Lamaze has now won all four bonuses, totaling $12,000 in additional money earned.
Also showing on Thursday, Heather Caristo Williams and Holly Caristo's Cosmopolitan 20 won the $8,000 1.45m jump-off class in the International Arena in the morning.
1. FINE LADY 5: 2003 Hanoverian mare by Forsyth x Drosselklang II ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 0/63.08
2. WINN WINN: 2003 AES mare by Chin Chin x Wagenaar ANDREW RAMSAY (USA), Andrew Ramsay: 0/65.13
3. MYSELF DE BREVE: 2000 Selle Francais mare by Quidam de Revel x Grand Veneur MARIE HECART (FRA), Marie Hecart: 0/66.41
4. CONCONCRETO SANCHA LS: 2003 SLS mare by Chin Chin x Polydor DANIEL BLUMAN (COL), Daniel Bluman LLC: 0/66.61
5. EXQUIS WALNUT DE MUZE: 1999 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Nabab de Reve x Chin Chin HARRIE SMOLDERS (NED), Team Exquis: 0/67.63
6. HH COPIN VAN DE BROY: 2002 Belgian Warmblood stallion by Darco x Brownboy QUENTIN JUDGE (USA), Double H Farm: 0/68.14
7. AMMERETTO: 2005 KWPN stallion by Numero Uno x Goodtimes DAVID BEISEL (USA), Equine Holdings LLC: 0/68.94
8. ATHENA: 2000 Swedish Sport Horse mare by Toulon x Capital KELSEY THATCHER (USA), Pony Lane Farm: 0/69.69
9. SIMON: 1999 KWPN gelding by Mr. Blue x Polydox BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/70.02
10. WOKLAHOMA: 2003 KWPN mare by Sheraton x Calvados ROBERTO TERAN, JR. (COL), Ark Partners LLC: 0/70.15
11. CHILL R Z: 2003 Zangersheide stallion by Chellano Z x A Lucky One CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Alex Jayne and Maura Thatcher: 0/71.72
12. FIBONACCI 17: 2005 Swedish Warmblood gelding by For Feeling x Corland MEREDITH MICHAELS BEERBAUM (GER), Artemis Equestrian Farm LLC: 0/72.62
Source: Press release from Lauren Fisher and Maddy Stover for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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