EricGeneva.jpgGeneva, Switzerland – Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze of Schomberg, ON, ended his 2008 competition season by claiming victory in the €175,000 Rolex World Cup Grand Prix in Geneva, Switzerland, on Sunday, December 14.

From a starting field of 40 horses, 11 jumped clear to advance to the jump-off. Lamaze and Hickstead were the ninth horse-rider combination to tackle the shortened jump-off course, chasing the time of first to go, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum of Germany, who had stopped the clock in 41.34 seconds riding Shutterfly. Galloping from start to finish, Lamaze left all the rails in place and crossed the timers in 40.70 seconds to take over the lead.

Home crowd favourite Steve Guerdat was next into the arena with Jalisca Solier. The Swiss rider failed to beat Lamaze’s time, with 40.96 seconds putting him in second place between Lamaze, currently the number two ranked rider in the world, and world number one, Michaels-Beerbaum.

“The course was big and hard, it was surprising that so many people jumped clear,” said Lamaze, 40. “The times were very fast in the jump-off. Hickstead jumped amazing!”

For the win, Lamaze collected €50,000 in prize money, a Rolex timepiece, and 20 points towards qualifying for the 2009 World Cup Final to be held in Las Vegas, NV, in April. Lamaze and Hickstead have only contested two World Cup qualifying events so far this season, in Geneva and in Toronto, winning both. Hickstead will now have some well-deserved vacation time while Lamaze concentrates on developing younger horses during the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL, running January 7 to March 29, 2009.

“I will use Hickstead as little as possible this winter,” said Lamaze of the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Ashland Stables and Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable. “Exactly when I bring him back to competition depends on whether or not I qualify for the World Cup Final.”

The victory in Geneva adds to Lamaze’s long list of accomplishments this season. Since winning Individual Gold and Team Silver Medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in August, Lamaze and Hickstead won the €60,000 Grand Prix of Caen and placed second in the €200,000 Grand Prix of Deauville, both in France. The pair then enjoyed a triumphant homecoming at Toronto’s Royal Horse Show where they won the $100,000 CN World Cup Grand Prix on November 12. Returning to Europe to contest the €150,000 Rolex Top Ten Final, open to the top ten ranked riders in the world, in Brussels, Belgium, the pair placed fourth overall. Geneva was the final stop on Lamaze’s 2008 competition calendar.

€175,000 Rolex World Cup Grand Prix, CSI-W Geneva, Switzerland – Final Results

Rider – Country – Horse – Faults – Time

1. Eric Lamaze – Canada – Hickstead – 0:0- 40.70

2. Steve Guerdat – Switzerland – Jalisca Solier – 0:0 – 40.96

3. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum – Germany – Shutterfly – 0:0 – 41.34

4. Marcus Ehning – Germany – Plot Blue – 0:0 41.83

5. Werner Muff – Switzerland – Quax II – 0:0 – 41.98