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Another big win for Lamaze and Hickstead

July 19, 2010

The seemingly unbeatable Hickstead and Eric Lamaze took out showjumping's Rolex Grand Prix at the Aachen's World Equestrian Festival yesterday, with only two milliseconds to spare.

Hickstead and Eric Lamaze

Pius Schwizer and Carlina

Sergio Alvarez-Moya and Action Breaker

Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly

It is the first time that a Canadian rider has won the Grand Prix at the CHIO Aachen, though the margin was tight. Lamaze finished clear in 51.62 seconds, with Swiss rider Pius Schwizer a close second with his 9-year-old Carvallo daughter, Carlina, who stopped the clock at 51.86.

Spain's Sergio Alvarez-Moya came third with the Belgian-bred Heartbreaker son, Action-Breaker after jumping clear in 57.55 seconds. The German rider Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum had bad luck in the jump-off with her 17-year-old Shutterfly. The winning pair of 2005 collected 8 faults, which meant fourth place.

Lamaze, 42, and Hickstead are used to achieving major victories: they won the Olympic gold medal in Hong Kong in 2008, and Lamaze has participated at four World Championships to date and won silver in The Hague (1994) and bronze in Rome (1998).

Hickstead's owners bought the horse just before he was eight. "He is now 14 and I think he is the horse of my life," Lamaze said.

"Every rider dreams of winning the Grand Prix of Aachen. Together with winning the Olympic gold medal in 2008, this victory is one of the absolute highlights in my career," Lamaze said.

"I was here many years ago and I have always said that I would like to win here. The best horses and riders in the world compete here."

In total 20 riders had qualified for the second round after jumping clear in the first round. Germany's Daniel Deusser was particularly unlucky in the second round: his Holsteiner Caballero jumped over the actual stand of the obstacle and touched the flag - which led to him being eliminated. Only four riders qualified for the jump-off.

Second-placed Schwizer said that before he rode into the jump-off, Ludger Beerbaum ran after him and told him to ride as fast as he could. "It was a great honour for me that Ludger Beerbaum ran after me to give me a tip. I definitely didn't lose out on a victory here, I gained a second one. For me it is an honour to be runner-up to the no. 1 in the world rankings and Olympic Champion."

Spanish rider Sergio Alvarez-Moya, who finished third, said he rode a safe round as he knew his horse is not the fastest. He said he has always had faith in his horse, Action Breaker, whom he and his brother bought as a three-year-old. "I have always believed in him. He has achieved very good results over the last six months."

Action Breaker is also used at stud and his oldest progeny are six. Alvarez-Moya lives in Spain, but spends most of my time near Antwerp in Belgium. He used to train with Albert Voorn, but dressage rider Jordi Domingo and Spanish national dressage coach Jean Bemelmans, also help him.

The Prize of the Federal Minister was awarded to the Swiss rider, Pius Schwizer. This special prize, donated by the German Minister of the Interior, Dr. Thomas de Maizière, is presented to the most successful show jumper of the event.

The Halla Challenge Trophy, donated by Hans Günter Winkler, is presented to the owner of the most successful jumping horse of the event. It was won this year by Hickstead, who is owned by the Ashland Stables and Torrey Pines Stables.

Course designer Frank Rothenberger said he wasn't expecting as many as 20 clear rounds. "We thought there would be more faults. Perhaps I gave too many tips. But the good results were definitely also due to the great footing," he said, referring to problems last year.

Show director Frank Kemperman said fantastic sport and an amazing atmosphere was had over the week, "even if the weather sometimes caused us problems. We have the best horses and riders here and are delighted that the ground in the stadium was so good this year. That was a nightmare in 2009. But this year I have received positive comments from the riders about the footing."

In total 353,000 spectators visited the show, and on the final day there were 51,000 visitors.

• Irish riders continued with their victorious campaign at the show with two more wins on Saturday, from Shane Breen and Billy Twomey.

After trouncing nine of the world's best teams in the Nations' Cup on Thursday night, the Irish came back into the fray with a vengeance on Saturday night.

Shane Breen and his Irish-bred gelding Dorada claimed the famous Aachen hunting competition with an almost two-second lead over Swiss challenger Werner Muff, and Cork's Billy Twomey clinched the late- night Accumulator contest on Michelle Gatland's gelding Tackeray, beating Germany's former Olympic Gold Medallist Ludger Beerbaum into second, and current World No. 1 show jumper Pius Schwizer into third.



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