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American Rider Megan Johnstone Lamaze Experiences Show Jumping in Europe

La Baule, France – May 14, 2006 – Have you ever wondered why an American would ship horses to Europe and live and show over there for months at a time? At the beautiful seaside resort town of La Baule, France, where the Samsung Super League event was held, the answer was found with Megan Johnstone Lamaze, an amateur rider who is showing in Europe for the second year in a row.

Lamaze came to Europe last year, planning to stay for a few months, but ended up being totally enthralled with the experience. She explained, “I ended up staying for seven months, and I loved it. I find it’s much more of a sport here. You have a lot of crowds here; very knowledgeable ones. They’re always cheering for everyone, and they’re always happy. They’re so supportive of their home teams and riders. They really get into the sport, and they understand everything that’s happening.”

When asked if the crowds readily accepted an American rider, Lamaze confirmed, “Yes, they seem to accept me. I get the clapping and the cheering after a good round.” The crowds in La Baule certainly backed up this comment. They were loud, and their rhythmical clapping greeted each rider entering the arena. They also stayed after each class to watch the awards presentations and to cheer loudly as the winners rode their victory gallops.

Lamaze returned to Europe this year after showing this winter at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. While in Europe, she makes her home base in Brussels, Belgium, and travels to shows throughout Europe. Her first show was in Italy and she then traveled to La Baule, France. She now plans to go to the Toledo show in Lisbon, Spain. Lamaze expects to show ten shows in Europe this year. She explained, “I’ll try to rotate my horses so I can do a bit more. It will depend on where I get accepted. There are a lot more Americans over here now; it’s hard to get into all the good shows, so it’s up in the air still.”

Lamaze has five horses in Europe with her this year. Ollandaise is a ten year old mare that she bought last September that shows in the Grand Prix classes. Ollandaise came in fourth at the $50,000 Farr XTN Grand Prix of Palm Beach in Florida and Lamaze commented, “She’s definitely on the uphill track, and hopefully that will keep going.”

Kiss Me Des Joncs is an eight year old mare that she has had for a year that has been quite successful. Lamaze said proudly, “She won a ton of seven year old classes last year. In Wellington, the week of the Global Tour, she won the $25,000 amateur class. She’s amazing at speeds. So far there’s no sign of problems!”

Chardo is Lamaze’s other Grand Prix horse who is twelve years old. He is her seasoned horse, and she carefully chooses where to show him. He was third in the Grand Prix in Estonia last year, and she calls him her “real trooper. I know I can always count on him.”

Lamaze has two other horses with her in Europe that at home she shows in High Amateur-Owner Jumpers. Unique and Cocktail are both nine years old.

When asked to compare her successes in the U.S. to the ones in Europe, Lamaze first talked about her recent successes in Europe, and then gave some comparisons. She said, “Last week in Italy, I was second in the big class on Ollandaise and twelfth in the Grand Prix. Kiss Me was second in a class and third in a class. And last year I had a ton of success. I think right now between Ollandaise and Kiss Me I have two really, really good horses. I know that I can be pretty competitive whenever the day is right and things are on your side.” Reflectively, she mused, “It’s a lot of luck and a lot of hard work, so I really think I’ve had success in both places. Here it’s a different level of riders, and the overall competition is greater. Even if you’re not getting the highest ribbons, you’re in there with the best in the world. It’s a little bit different than competing at home against the same people.

One wonders what, other than the crowd acceptance and the overall competition, would keep her returning to Europe to compete. She said emphatically, “A lot! With the exception of Wellington at home, there aren’t many shows of this caliber. Here it’s very different. They really cater to the riders. Whenever you have a request, and you ask them in the office, they do it within ten minutes, and they are extremely helpful to the riders. For example, we were at a show last year where it rained so hard, all the stalls flooded. They had new shavings delivered as fast as they could. What’s more, they helped us remove all the wet shavings and lay down the new ones. They try really hard to keep you happy. It’s the little things. If you need shuttles to the airport or to hotels or wherever, they’re always extremely accommodating. They always make sure you have somewhere to sit and watch the show, and you always have food and drinks available. They always take care of you that way. It’s just a totally different mindset.”

Lamaze said that she plans to return to Europe next year. She has people who support her and make it possible for her to experience both riding in the U.S. and Europe.

In La Baule, every seat in the stadium was taken. People were standing three deep along the rails and they were sitting in the concrete aisles. Even when it began raining, some umbrellas were raised, but most just put up their hoods and continued watching. The electricity and emotion from the crowd was quite an experience. In the U.S., shows in Wellington, in the Northeast, and in California are working towards providing top level competitions that will draw European riders to this side of the Atlantic. With the huge decision of bringing the 2010 World Equestrian Games to Lexington, Kentucky, many Europeans will get to experience an equestrian event in the United States. With these advances, U.S. fans will also be able to experience the thrill and excitement of top level international equestrian show jumping on a regular basis.

PhelpsSports.Com Is Coming In August!!

Look for the debut of PhelpsSports.com in late August. PhelpsSports.com, a new and highly innovative subscription equestrian sports website, will offer equestrians and fans of equestrian sports from around the world, a single web address for the latest breaking news of the Hunter, Jumper, Dressage, Eventing and other High Performance disciplines. The website will include up to the minute audio reports, live video interviews and unique features from around the globe, photography, and the creative writing and reporting of some of the finest equestrian journalists in the world.

This report from Foncine Wood at the 2006 Samsung Super League event in La Baule, France is another preview provided by PhelpsSports.com. Look for the debut of this brand new, dynamic and exciting equestrian news website during the World Equestrian Games in August. PhelpsSports.com is going to change the standard of equestrian sports coverage on the Internet and will be your best source for up to the minute video, unique and personal audio interviews and late breaking news of the High Performance disciplines. Stay tuned!


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