Canadian Eric Lamaze and Narcotique de Muze II Take Victory in National Horse Show Jumper Classic
Kent Farrington and Up Chiqui Are Second for Best American Finish
Wellington, FL - December 7, 2007 - It was an exciting night of show jumping under the lights at the 124th National Horse Show and Family Festival. Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, Ontario, notched another great win on American turf this year. He rode Narcotique de Muze II, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Ashland Stables, to victory tonight. Lamaze finished just ahead of American sensation Kent Farrington and Up Chiqui, while Jimmy Torano of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, was third on Ormsby Hill. Tonight's class was phase one of the Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship, presented by Equine Motorcoach. Points calculated from results in both phases will be added to find this year's national show jumping champion.
Tonight's jump-off was made especially interesting by the fact that there were 15 riders competing over the shortened course. Both rounds were designed by Pierre Jolicouer of Wellington. In the first round, there were 13 numbered obstacles. There were nine four-faulters, one elimination, and two retirements. Many made it around the course without error, which set up the jump-off for some fast times.
"That was Pierre's idea when he built the course," Farrington said. "He said he wasn't going to build huge today, and he guessed around 12 or 15 clear. He wanted it to be a nice experience for the horses, and he wanted a fast jump-off for the crowd tonight. On Sunday, it'll probably go up pretty big. Sunday will be a real World Cup course, I would guess."
The first to return was Danielle Torano on Vancouver d'Auvrey. Torano put down an impressive and quick clear round to start out. The jump-off included many long gallops, and Torano used that to her advantage. She finished with a time of 48.33 seconds for fourth place.
Lauren Hough and Quick Study had a good round going until a sharp slice at fence 15 resulted in a refusal. Hough finished the round with four jumping faults and one time fault in 52.22 seconds. Top U.S. rider McLain Ward would have bad luck at fence 10, which his mount Larioso caught the front rail at for four faults. Had it stayed up, Ward would have won easily with a time of 42.17 seconds.
Next in were Farrington and his incredible mount, Up Chiqui. Farrington made a great rollback from the first jump to 4a-b, a two stride. He continued in a quick pace through the rest of the course, but in the last line, he added a stride to maintain a clear round. The final jump was a tall vertical heading into a dark corner, and Up Chiqui had no problems with the fence. They finished clear and took the lead with a time of 45.69 seconds.
With a shake of his head, Farrington said afterwards that he had left the door open. "I watched McLain go right before I went, and he went so fast and had one down. At the time, the winner wasn't that fast so I wasn't trying to go all out with him and maybe save him a bit for Sunday," he pointed out. "Obviously, I left it a little bit open, and I just got beat. If I went later, I probably would have pushed him that little bit more."
Farrington is definitely in the hunt for the championship. Last year, McLain Ward and Sapphire were second in both phases, but were consistent enough to win the title of national show jumping champions. "That would be a great accomplishment in itself," Farrington said of winning the championship. "I was really, really happy with my horse today. I hate being second, of course, but hindsight is 20/20. It would be fantastic (to win the championship), but I don't want to get ahead of myself. I just want to go day by day and see how it goes."
The next four riders would be unable to put in that second clear round. Nona Garson and Languster caught a rail at fence 11 and added a time fault to their score, while Robin Sweely on Carlow Clover had the last vertical down. The youngest rider in the class, Ali Wolff, rode a clean jumping round on H&M Necoll, but they accumulated one time fault. Michael Morissey and Crelido had the vertical down going into the two stride combination.
Jimmy Torano and Ormsby Hill were next to go around. Torano looked cautious through the first half of the course, but after the turn from fence 15 to the oxer at fence 10, he stepped up his pace. He rode a great, forward last line and finished clear in 47.62 seconds, just ahead of his wife Danielle.
Next in was Georgina Bloomberg on Curius, who rode a comfortable, flowing pace for a clear round. Their time of 49.74 seconds would hold up for sixth place. Another clear round, but slightly faster in 49 seconds even, would come from the next horse. Unika and Marilyn Little would end up in fifth place.
Lamaze and Narcotique de Muze entered the ring next, and Lamaze wasted no time in galloping to the first jump. He made a textbook-perfect rollback to the two stride and opened up Narcotique's stride for the final three jumps. The big mare stretched easily over the oxers and came home with no faults. Their time of 44.23 seconds moved them into the lead.
Lamaze noted, "It was an open, gallop-type jump-off with few turns so to speak. There was one after the first jump and one after fence 15. My horse has a big stride, but Kent is a really, really fast rider and very competitive. Sometimes it's almost easier when you have nothing to lose and you know that it's a really fast class and you have to try and be as fast as your horse can go. I was fortunate or lucky enough that the rails stayed up."
The final three competitors were unable to match Lamaze's clear round or his time. Ian Silitch and Rivano had the last jump down, as did Sharn Wordley on Rockville. Wordley took a conservative pace and added five time faults to his score. The final rider was Carly Campbell Cooper of Canada. She and Arriscraft Rocca had a mishap at fence 4a, another rail, and 15 time faults to end the class.
Lamaze was very pleased with his mare, who has been a consistent winner this year at the Winter Equestrian Festival and at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Alberta. "She competes and jumps really well on grass. Calgary has been a place she's been exposed to a lot in her career, mostly as a second horse. She really learned a lot there, and she really likes the grass and the firm footing. I'd say she's really experienced by now," he explained.
Although bringing Narcotique to the National Horse Show was not his original plan, Lamaze decided to compete in Florida when plans to return to Europe for the indoor circuit did not materialize. "I decided that was maybe telling me something, and it was time to stay home. She was fit, ready to go, and she's always jumped well here so I decided to enter," he said.
His win tonight puts Lamaze in good standing for the Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship, which is presented by Equine Motorcoach. However, Lamaze knows that anything can happen, and he prepares one step at a time. "We don't allow Americans into the Canadian national championship, so I guess I'm fortunate to be able to ride here!" he exclaimed. "Any class you win here with riders like Kent and everyone is very rewarding itself. If consistency over two days is there for us, it's very rewarding. In our sport, it's class by class and you hope that the same horse shows up on Sunday as you had tonight. There's a lot that can go wrong in this sport, and you just stay focused and deliver the best performance that you can."
The 124th National Horse Show continues tomorrow with classes in four rings. The highlight jumper classes are the NHS Open, Amateur-Owner, and Junior Speed Stakes, which begin at noon in the Internationale Arena. Phase Two of the Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship will start at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
Final Results:$25,000 NATIONAL SHOW JUMPING CHAMPIONSHIP, CSI for the Rolex/USEF National Show Jumping Championship presented by Equine Motorcoach
Horse, Rider, Owner, First Round Faults, Second Round Faults, Second Round Time
1. NARCOTIQUE DE MUZE II, ERIC LAMAZE, ASHLAND STABLES, 0/0/44.230
2. UP CHIQUI, KENT FARRINGTON, ALEX BOONE,/CRAIG DOBBS/RICHARD BASS 0/0/45.690
3. ORMSBY HILL, JIMMY TORANO, JIMMY TORANO, 0/0/47.620
4. VANCOUVER D'AUVREY, DANIELLE TORANO, SIR RULY, 0/0/48.330
5. UNIKA, MARILYN LITTLE, RAYLYN FARMS, INC., 0/0/49.000
6. CURIUS, GEORGINA BLOOMBERG, GOTHAM ENTERPRIZES, 0/0/49.740
7. H & M NECOLL, ALI WOLFF, BLACKLICK BEND FARM, 0/1/52.340
8. LARIOSO, MCLAIN WARD, BLUECHIP BLOODSTOCK, 0/4/42.170
9. RIVANO, IAN SILITCH, RACHEL SPENCER, 0/4/48.060
10. CRELIDO, MICHAEL MORRISSEY, EUGENE R. MISCHE, 0/4/48.290
Photo Credit: Narcotique de Muze II and Eric Lamaze, winners of the $25,000 National Horse Show Jumper Classic. Photo (C) 2007 Randi Muster. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.
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