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Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 defeat world’s best in the 16th Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final

Friday, 09 December 2016
CHI Geneva 2016

Eric Lamaze with Fine Lady 5. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson. Canada's Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 lived up to their reputation of being one of world's fastest combinations. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Eric Lamaze made it a historical day for the Canadian equestrian sport, by being the first rider representing his country to win the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final. Riding his Olympic bronze medalist Fine Lady 5, Lamaze defeated world number one Christian Ahlmann as well as former Olympic Champion and home favorite Steve Guerdat.

A very enthusiastic crowd in Geneva witnessed five out of ten pairs in the 16th Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final producing clear rounds over the technical course set by Switzerland’s Gérard Lachat and Belgium’s Luc Musette. First-to-go was home favorite Steve Guerdat aboard his World Cup Final-winner Corbinian (Cornet Obolensky x Pilot). Well inside the time allowed, Guerdat pulled off a clear result in 62.33 seconds with the 10-year-old Westphalian bred gelding. Then it was Rolex Grand Slam-winner Scott Brash’s turn, but he knocked down the third part of the triple combination towards the very end on his exceptional mare Hello M’Lady (Indoctro x Baloubet du Rouet).

France’s Pénélope Leprévost was the only lady rider to compete in the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final, and she seemed very determined to put down a fantastic result. Riding the 11-year-old stallion Vagabond de la Pomme (Vigo d’Arsouilles x For Pleasure), Leprévost cleared the first round as did her compatriot and partner Kevin Staut aboard his Olympic mount Reveur de Hurtebise HDC (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Capricieux des Six Censes). Germany’s Marcus Ehning and Pret A Tout (Hiram Chambertin x Stew Boy) had an unlucky rail on the upright at number 10, while Canada’s Eric Lamaze pulled off a brilliant clear round with First Lady 5 (Forsyth x Drosselkang II). Finishing in 59.69 seconds, Lamaze got himself the last place in the starting order in round two.

Germany’s Daniel Deusser and First Class van Eeckelghem (Balou du Rouet x Feinschnitt I van de Richter) got one mistake at the first part of the double of verticals at 4a, while USA’s Kent Farrington and his 9-year-old superstar Creedance (Lord Z x Notaris) knocked down 11b of the triple combination. France’s Simon Delestre had a rather disappointing result of 18 penalties with his relatively new mount Chadino (Chacco Blue x Narew xx) – the Olympic horse of Ukraine’s Ferenc Szentirmai in Rio de Janeiro.

Christian Ahlmann with Taloubet Z. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson. Christian Ahlmann settled for runner-up position aboard Taloubet Z. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

World number one Christian Ahlmann and his long-term partner Taloubet Z (Galoubet A x Polydor) did what was expected: They produced a flawless clear round. However, they finished in a rather slow time of 63.77 seconds, which forced Ahlmann and Taloubet Z to be the first of the clear pairs in the starting order of the second round.

While Simon Delestre, Kent Farrington, Marcus Ehning and Scott Brash did not take all the risk in  round two, Germany’s Daniel Deusser gave it a great try despite his four faults from the first round. First Class van Eeckelghem and Deusser had a rather brilliant jump-off, until they knocked down the penultimate upright, finishing on four faults in 43.64 seconds.

As first to go of the clears out of round one, Germany’s Christian Ahlmann gave it a fantastic shot. Riding his former World Cup Final winner Taloubet Z, Ahlmann had the minimum number of strides on almost every line and he really made a difference by leaving out two strides in the rollback towards the upright at fence number two. Ahlmann and Taloubet Z stopped the clock at 43.05 seconds. “I don’t know if this was really ‘Vollgas’, but it certainly wasn’t a bad try. Let’s see what my colleagues will do," Christian Ahlmann stated after his round.

France’s lady rider Pénélope Leprévost seriously went for it, but knocked down the upright at number two aboard Vagabond de la Pomme. Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat obviously did what he could on Corbinian, but he just could not meet the speed of Ahlmann and finished on a clean sheet in 44.30 seconds. After France’s Kevin Staut and Reveur de Hurtebise HDC knocked down the second part of the double combination, it was Eric Lamaze’s turn.

Known as one of the fastest combinations in the world, Lamaze and Fine Lady certainly lived up to their reputation. The 10-year-old mare might need some more strides every now and again than the mighty stallion Taloubet Z, but she certainly makes up a lot of time over the jumps.

Detailing his jump-off round that was 0.49 seconds faster than Ahlmann’s, Lamaze said: “When I saw Christian’s jump-off, I thought the competition might have been over. I knew there were not that many options, you just had to try anything that you could. I was lucky enough to have a galloping distance towards the Rolex-oxer in the end. That distance was in front of me to take and I took it. That is what made the difference in the end."

After winning the individual bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the victory in the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final was another major achievement for Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady in 2016. “Last year, Fine Lady’s ‘second career’ started off here in Geneva. I was forced to jump her in the Rolex Grand Prix, since my other horse wasn’t feeling well. She normally did the 1.50 speed classes, and every once in a while she jumped a bigger class. But certainly nothing like what we have to face here on Sunday. Eventually, she did not only jump a clear round, but she also jumped it easily enough. From that point I thought she perhaps was a candidate for the Olympics. And what an amazing horse she has been, from winning the bronze in Rio to the Top 10 Final here; I could not ask for more," a happy Lamaze concluded.

The top three! Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson. The top three! Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.

Text © World of Showjumping by Peter van der Waaij // Pictures © Jenny Abrahamsson

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