Eric Lamaze and Hickstead. © Kit Houghton/FEI
It was then a waiting game as eight more horse-rider combinations took their turn in La Baule's expansive grass arena. France's own Penelope Leprevost came the closest to catching the Canadian's time, guiding Mylord Carthago home in a time of 37.45 seconds. Germany's Carsten-Otto Nagel took third with a time of 38.19 seconds riding Corradina while World Champions Philippe Le Jeune and Vigo d'Arsouilles placed fourth in a time of 39.34 seconds for Belgium. "I was third to go in the jump-off, and there were a lot of fast riders coming after me - I knew it was going to be a very fast jump-off," said Lamaze, who is currently ranked number two in the world. "At these shows when there are 11 clear and you go early, you have no choice but to have a fast round and try to win it."
Despite having the fastest time, Lamaze's victory hinged on a video examination of his jump-off performance. In show jumping, the horse must jump between the flags placed on either side of the obstacle, and there was a question as to whether Hickstead had indeed jumped between the flags at one obstacle. The judges reviewed the video footage to confirm that Hickstead had jumped between the flags before announcing Lamaze as the winner.
"I came at an angle to a vertical and he jumped up, but I turned in the air so his back-end went out over the flag," Lamaze said. "They had to go to the video and make sure that Hickstead's front end was between the flags as he jumped. They reviewed the video, saw that it was, and did the right thing."
The victory marked the second win a row for Lamaze in La Baule. On Saturday, Lamaze guided Coriana van Klapscheut, a nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare (Darco x Heartbreaker) to victory in the €23,000 Prix Groupe Lucien Barriere. On Thursday, Hickstead jumped double clear to place fourth in the €23,000 1.50m Prix de Conseil General de Loire Atlantique.
"Hickstead is jumping really well, and he was so good today," said Lamaze of the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (Hamlet x Ekstein).
With strong results throughout the four-day international show jumping tournament, Lamaze was named the Leading Rider of CSIO5* La Baule. His student, 16-year-old Caitlin Zeigler of the United States, was also competing at La Baule in the CSI2* division. Having won the CSI2* Prix Casino Lucien Barriere on the first day of competition riding Butragenia, Zeigler ended the week by finishing second in the €23,000 Jockey Club Prix on Sunday riding Valencia. Like her coach, consistent results throughout the week earned her the title of Leading Rider in the CSI2* division.
Following La Baule, Lamaze will compete at CSIO5* Rome, Italy, from May 25-29 before returning to Canada for the Spruce Meadows summer tournaments in Calgary, Alberta.