Lamaze takes Queen Elizabeth II Cup
Two Canadian show jumping teammates found themselves facing off in the finals of a major event Saturday, battling for a huge prize.
Eric Lamaze and Jill Henselwood met in the finals of the $200,000 Queen Elizabeth II Cup Saturday at Spruce Meadows. Lamaze, the defending champion, rode to victory on his Olympic mount, Hickstead.
The tournament hosted 42 competitors from six countries, but Lamaze and Henselwood were the only two competitors to produce two faultless rounds each.
The team-mates advanced to a timed tie-breaker, where Lamaze was faultless again with a time of 42.763 seconds.
Henselwood was unable to match Lamaze's performance after a knockdown on her third jump. She decided to withdraw and accept the $40,000 prize for second place.
Lamaze's most recent win could vault him even further ahead in world rankings after he moved up to third place earlier this week. Riders are ranked again next month right before the Olympics.
He earned $66,000 for his victory Saturday, as well as a $50,000 bonus for winning two grand prix in the 2008 Spruce Meadows series as he did last year.
He expressed confidence in Hickstead's ability to perform in Beijing. "Hickstead can do a lot. He has incredible energy. He's just a great horse," said Lamaze in a press release. "There is no horse I would rather be going there with."
Lamaze not only ranks among the world’s best equestrians, he stands a good chance of bringing Canada its first individual Olympic medal in the sport since fellow Quebecer Michel Vaillancourt in 1976.
In 2007, Lamaze became the first Canadian rider in 20 years to crack the top 10 in the world rankings and was the first North American rider to win more than a million dollars in prize money in one year.