Eric Lamaze and Hickstead claimed victory in the $60,000 'Kubota' Big Ben Memorial Grand Prix to close out the 2006 'Kubota' Capital Classic Show Jumping Tournament in Ottawa, Ontario.
© 2006 Cealy Tetley
In fact, Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, had two shots at the title, qualifying both Ronaldo and Hickstead for the jump-off. While he was clear in a time of 46.86 seconds riding Ronaldo to take the lead, he returned to the grand prix ring with Hickstead, blistering around the course in a time 45.31 seconds to best himself and claim victory, cheered on by 4,000 show jumping fans.
"Ronaldo was very quick, but he is only eight years old and not that experienced yet," said Lamaze, 38, who claimed the $17,000 winner's cheque as well as $11,000 for second place. "He was clear which is what you want, you want those coming after you to have to chase you. Hickstead on the other hand is a very fast horse, and he is ready for the World Championships."
Lamaze and Hickstead, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, depart next week for Europe in preparation for the 2006 World Championships in Aachen, Germany. It will be Lamaze's fourth consecutive World Championship appearance.
Joining Lamaze at the World Championships will be third place finisher, Chris Pratt of Belfountain, ON. Pratt, 37, was clear in the jump-off in a time of 48.85 seconds riding Rivendell, an 11-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Susan Grange.
"I just tried to be efficient and stay safe," said Pratt who placed fourth in last year's event. "I know Rivendell can go faster than he went today, but with the World Championships coming up, I just wanted to keep him jumping at his best, and give him confidence."
Local athlete Lauren Hunkin enjoyed the best result of her young career, placing fourth with Orleans, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Based in Perth and training with eight-time Olympian Ian Millar (13th in Sunday's event), Hunkin was pleased with her results despite having a rail down in the jump-off.
"It was a quite a course and wonderful fun!" smiled Hunkin, 26, of the 1.60m course set by Conrad Homfeld, one of five course designers being considered for the 2008 Olympic Games. "Following Chris and Eric into the ring, the plan was to keep it smooth."
Alberta's Darren Dlin placed fifth with Catwalk after incurring 12 faults. Like Lamaze, defending champion Frankie Chesler qualified two horses for the jump-off but it was not her day. With her first mount, Picolien Zeldenrust, Chesler of Orangeville, ON, failed to cross through the timers to start her round, resulting in elimination. With her second mount, VDL Nuit de Pomme, Chesler racked up a total of 19 faults to finish sixth.