Canadian Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze made a triumphant return to Toronto by winning the first international show jumping competition of this year’s Royal Horse Show on Wednesday, November 6, at the 97th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, ON.

Lamaze grew up competing at the annual event in his early career. Since relocating his training base to Europe in 2006, he has only returned to The Royal on two occasions with the last one being in 2011.

Competing on his old stomping grounds, Lamaze and his 2016 Rio Olympic individual bronze medal partner, Fine Lady 5, made quick work of the course designed by Michel Vaillancourt to win the $37,000 McKee Family International Challenge. Speed was the name of the game and Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 rocketed to the top of the leaderboard after twisting through the course at break-neck speed and flying through the timers in 47.90 seconds. Fellow Canadian Erynn Ballard of Tottenham, ON, came the closest to Lamaze’s time, stopping the clock in 49.43 seconds riding Judge hof ter Zeedycke for second place. Australia’s Rowan Willis took third with a clear round in 50.47 seconds aboard Calisto 26.

“I said if I ever go back to the Royal, it’s going to be to win!” said Lamaze, 51. “If I’m going to be on my home ground, I wanted to bring the best!”

Lamaze will be competing in international show jumping events throughout the remainder of The Royal with Fine Lady 5, owned by Andy and Carlene Ziegler’s Artisan Farms and his own Torrey Pines Stable, and his other top mount, Chacco Kid, owned by the Chacco Kid Group.

“It’s an opening class, but I go to the show to win,” said Lamaze, who now divides his time between Belgium and his winter facility in Wellington, FL. “I feel that if you start on a winning note, the odds are you will feel in the mood to keep it up. Every class counts.”

Thursday evening’s featured event is the $85,000 Big Ben Challenge, preceded by a special tribute to 10-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar in recognition of his retirement from international team competition. The $50,000 Canadian Open International Challenge, presented by 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, will highlight Friday night’s schedule before the Royal Horse Show culminates in the $210,000 Longines FEI Jumping World CupTM Toronto on Saturday night, November 9.

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$37,000 McKee Family International Challenge – Final Results

Wednesday, November 6

Rider Nation Horse Faults Time

1. Eric Lamaze Canada Fine Lady 5 0 47.90

2. Erynn Ballard Canada Judge hof ter Zeedycke 0 49.43

3. Rowan Willis Australia Calisto 26 0 50.47

4. Conor Swail Ireland Gamble 0 52.78

5. Margie Goldstein-Engle United States Dicas 0 55.72

6. Amy Millar Canada Ericson 0 56.99

7. Daniel Coyle Ireland Legacy 0 57.06

8. Mario Deslauriers Canada Amsterdam 27 0 61.64

9. Daniel Bluman Israel Gemma W 0 63.75

10. Shane Sweetnam Ireland Alejandro 0 64.98