What a difference two days —and one official announcement— makes. Between Wednesday, when Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 won their first class, the Turkish Airlines Prize at CHIO Aachen, and Lamaze was forced to remain tight lipped about the question everyone was asking, and Friday, July 15th, when they won their second class, their nation of Canada released its team selection for the Rio Olympic Games, and as expected, this winning pair was on the list.
Now free to talk about his selection, it made the tone decidedly different when Lamaze accepted 1st place honors for the Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia on Friday. During the prizegiving, he was handed a microphone while mounted in the center of the arena, and asked about his Rio plans.
“Fine Lady is my horse for Rio,” he told the 32,000 fans in the stadium, putting a stamp on a week of incredible success for Lamaze and the Artisan Farms owned, 13-year-old Hannoverian mare (Forsyth x Drosselklang II).
“For any rider, to have the honor to win anything at Aachen is exceptional, and you consider that a fantastic week, so for me to be able to win two major competitions here, I’m very happy myself, but I’m also very proud of this fantastic mare,” Lamaze emphasized. “She comes from Germany, and with all the German public here and the fans, it’s great that this mare can come here and do what she can do.”
It does mean more in Aachen, and Lamaze was especially pleased that along with many fans, Fine Lady 5’s breeder Wilhelm Leymann was watching at Aachen on Friday, as well.
The Prize of North Rhine-Westphalia was a tough, two round competition with the first and second rounds separated by a three-hour break. Fifty-six riders began the class in the early afternoon under chilly skies, riding to qualify in the top 25 to return for Round 2.
But it was quickly apparent that the course was no easy task. Riding from an open water on a right hand bend to a double combination with an especially wide oxer at the A element spelled trouble for most of the order. Just eight riders went clear in round one, allowing plenty of time faulters and four faulters back for Round 2.
For Lamaze and the on-form Fine Lady 5, that Round 1 track went sailing by as they demonstrated what a partnership they’ve become. In Round 2, they simply ate up the ground, meeting every fence in perfect stride without having to let up on the gas pedal.
“She always rises to the occasion and amazes me with the scope that she comes up with”
“Fine Lady is a horse that Artisan Farm purchased for me mainly as a second horse to do the 1.50m speed competition. But we quickly grew together, and every time I’ve asked her to jump a big competition, like in Geneva last year, or in a few other places, she always rises to the occasion and amazes me with the scope that she comes up with,” Lamaze described. “I don’t know if we can call it scope, or if we call it lightness, and bravery. I know her very well and that she does need some ground speed to jump bigger fences, but as the year progressed she was the obvious choice for me, for the Olympics.”
Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 won the day’s class on a comfortable margin of three and a half seconds. Right behind him was the notable 2nd place finisher Maurice Tebbel of Germany, who at age 22 is competing at his first Aachen, and was thrilled and surprised to come 2nd to one of the world’s best. Tebbel rode Chacco’s Son, a nine-year-old Westfalian stallion (Chacco Blue x Lancer III) owned by his father, Rene Tebbel.
In 3rd place was Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum aboard Madeline Winter-Schulze’s Chiara 222, and fellow German rider Marcus Ehning placed 4th with Cornado NRW. Kent Farrington was 5th for the United States with Robin Parsky’s Gazelle.