Eric Lamaze Wins in $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 9 at Tampa Bay Classic
Tampa, FL – March 29, 2007 – The ninth edition of this year’s $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Series was held this afternoon at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center during the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Canada’s Eric Lamaze and Narcotique de Muze II, owned by Ashland Stables, were the first to go in the jump-off and set an unbeatable time. Kate Levy (USA) and Vent du Nord were quick enough for second, while Lisa Jacquin (USA) and Obourg finished third.
Today’s course was designed by Robert Ellis of Great Britain and featured 13 numbered obstacles, including a tricky triple combination and a skinny vertical as the last jump, which caught a number of horses. Nine horse-and-rider combinations of the 55 entries advanced to the jump-off, which had two opportunities for inside turns in the covered arena.
The first to go clear in the first round and the first to return for the jump-off was Lamaze. He set a good pace and made both inside turns. The big, ten-year-old, Belgian Warmblood mare by Darco galloped handily around and finished in 41.29 seconds. “I was very quick from one to two, had a nice turn inside at the top of the ring and then again to number one,” Lamaze explained. “She jumped a little right at the second to last jump, the oxer, which I could have been quicker to coming in, but she jumped well.”
William Lowry (USA) and Rio Corde, owned by Winsor Farm Sales, were next into the ring and had a refusal at fence six. Lowry then took his time through the rest of the course and finished with four jumping and seven time faults in 63.68 seconds.
Jacquin and Flintwoode Farms LLC’s Obourg tackled the jump-off next. They made the inside turn back to 4a-b, a two stride, but went around an oxer to jump number one. Their nice pace carried them clear through the course in a time of 45.05 seconds. “He’s just getting started at this level,” Jacquin said of the nine-year-old Belgian stallion. “I was very pleased with how he went today. I wanted to go medium because I haven’t ridden him that much. I try to be double clean as much as I can, and when I get to know him a little bit better, I’ll be braver about making some inside turns. I made that one hard turn, but I took the option to go around on the other one. I know he’s going to be really fast.”
On Darvin Garbo, Henrik Gundersen (DEN) went for the win, but three rails fell on course for 12 faults in 48.03 seconds. Darragh Kerins (IRE) and Hot Wheels, owned by Miranda Fischer and SeaJay Performance, galloped out of the corner for a bid to fence six, but at a cost of four faults. They finished with a time of 51.01 seconds for sixth place.
Levy and Vent du Nord, owned by Levy and Emile Tacken, made both inside turns well at a strong gallop, but were unable to catch Lamaze’s time in 42.88 seconds. Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and Double H Farm’s Oasis had a blistering pace going until an error from the inside turn to fence one left them unable to jump. Pessoa circled and finished the course with eight faults in 55.34 seconds.
Next to challenge was California’s Richard Spooner on Apache, owned by S&B LLC Corporation. Spooner had an amazing effort in the first round when Apache trotted in the approach to the triple combination and made it through clear. They were not so lucky in the jump-off when fence 4a fell. Spooner almost caught Lamaze’s time in 41.85 seconds, but had to settle for fourth place.
The last in the jump-off was Graf Lando, owned by Meghan Moran and ridden by Robert Kraut. After a hard rub at jump two, Kraut pushed Graf Lando. The huge bay galloped and made the inside turns, but a heartbreaking rail at the last jump left them with four faults in 44.58 seconds and fifth place.
“It was fast enough to make them try,” Lamaze said afterwards. “It was a good position to be in. There was good competition behind me, so you can’t just take it for granted. They could go fast and faster, so you have to go fast enough.”
It was a solid win for Lamaze, who has notched four top three performances in WEF grand prix competition so far this year. This is his third year with Narcotique de Muze II, who has stepped up and performed well for him every time he asked. “She just started the big classes last year and got some great mileage in Europe,” he noted. “I use her in big classes when I need to. I step her down, and she’s a great speed horse to have. At the million dollar class in Calgary last year, she only had a foot in the water. She has such a good heart, so it’s a great back-up horse.”
Lamaze smiled when he spoke of the striking bay mare, with whom he will show again on Sunday in the World Cup qualifier. “It’s my last chance to qualify for the World Cup final on Sunday; that’s why I’m here. Hopefully, she goes as well,” he said. “I love riding her. She’s got a great temperament and is really a trier. She’s always there.”
The Tampa Bay Classic, CSI-W continues tomorrow with plenty of jumper action in the covered arena, including classes for the Young Jumpers, High Junior and Amateur-Owners and the Acorn Hill 1.40m Speed Challenge. Sunday’s grand prix is the final qualifying class for the East Coast riders for the 2007 Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping Finals in Las Vegas this April. The main event of the Winter Equestrian Festival, the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, will be on Saturday, April 7, at 7 p.m. in Raymond James Stadium.
CLASS: $25,000 WEF CHALLENGE CUPSERIES ROUND 9 CSI FEI ART238.2.2,
1. 924, NARCOTIQUE DE MUZE II, ERIC LAMAZE, ASHLAND STABLES, 0, 0, 41.290
2. 495, VENT DU NORD, KATE LEVY, KATE LEVY LLC EMILE TACKEN, 0, 0, 42.880
3. 29, OBOURG, LISA JACQUIN, FLINTWOODE FMS LLC, 0, 0, 45.050
4. 9, APACHE, RICHARD SPOONER, S & B LLC CORP., 0, 4, 41.850
5. 353, GRAF LANDO, ROBERT KRAUT, MEGHAN MORAN, 0, 4, 44.580
6. 651, HOT WHEELS, DARRAGH KERINS, MIRANDA FISCHER SEAJAY PERFORMANCE 0, 4, 51.010
7. 426, OASIS, RODRIGO PESSOA, DOUBLE H FARM, 0, 8, 55.340
8. 705, RIO CORDE, WILLIAM LOWRY, WINSOR FARM SALES, 0, 10, 79.680
9. 930, DARVIN GARBO, HENRIK S. GUNDERSEN, HENRIK S. GUNDERSEN, 0, 12, 48.030
10. 944, SPITFIRE, KYLE KING, LINDA OPDYCKE, 4, 75.360
11. 214, NADIA, GEORGINA BLOOMBERG, GOTHAM ENTERPRIZES, 4, 77.140
12. 945, FINNETE, KYLE KING, ROBIN COX, 4, 77.350
Photo Credit: Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Narcotique de Muze II, winners of the $25,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 9 at the Tampa Bay Classic, CSI-W. Photo © 2007 Randi Muster.
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