Spruce Meadows home to masters of show jumping
Big money was up for grabs in the Canadian leg of the Rolex Grand Slam
Bobby Danger Jones
If someone were to ask what sports tournament Canada consistently hosts on an international stage most would assume hockey or curling. However the Masters of Showjumping at Spruce Meadows which ran September 4-8, take the cake.
The CN International tournament, also known as the newly coined Rolex Grand Slam, has three legs, starting in Aachen, Germany, the second in our backyard at Spruce Meadows and finishing in Geneva, Switzerland. Spruce Meadows is considered the best facility of it’s kind in North America and is rivaled by few internationally.
The CN International tournament has a powerful purse of more than $2.5 million up for grabs and is one of only the competitions in the world where both men and women compete as equals. The winner of the first leg of the tournament, champ Nick Skelton of Great Britain, was unable to compete due to his horse Big Star being injured. Skelton lost the opportunity to possibly win a bonus of over $1.32 million for winning all 3 tournaments.
Canada’s hopes rode on the saddle of “Captain Canada” Ian Miller and Eric Lamaze. At 66 years of age, Miller is no stranger to the spotlight and is Canada’s top ranked rider. His competition was fierce with the likes of Olympic Gold Medalist Steve Guerdat of Switzerland and World Cup champion Elizabeth “Bezzie” Madden.
Millar told The official Spruce Meadows Website: “You’re as old as you feel that you are and I’m in a sport where I compete with very young people,” Millar said. “To be sharp and competitive with them I have to think the way they do, I have to be right with them or they’re going to chew me up and spit me out.”
Millar’s teammate Eric Lamaze was the other Canadian hopeful. Lamaze purchased a new horse at the beginning of the season from Swiss rider Pius Schwizer, following the tragic death of his former steed and Olympic champion, Hickstead in late 2011. Appropriately named Powerplay, the Canuck had his sights on another championship.
Lamaze was candid about his new relationship with Powerplay in his interview with The Spruce Meadows Official Website “I have a good feeling and we’ll see how this relationship develops,” Lamaze continued. “At nine-years-old Hickstead had not achieved his potential. I feel with Powerplay this could be great.”
There were signs of Powerplay’s potential, as Lamaze was able to guide Powerplay to a fifth-place at the QE II Cup. Lamaze kept the horse in Calgary to prepare the horse for the grueling test of international competition.
“I would say it’s a horse who has seen Spruce Meadows before and who knows what it takes to have success,” Lamaze said. “The second round of this Grand Prix is toughest thing I’ve ever jumped.”
Lamaze had already had success at the CN international in 2007 and 2011 riding Hickstead and was looking to be successful again.
Unfortunatley for the Canucks, they came up short this year and failed to place in top three. Here is how the top 3 finishers and the Canadians placed. 1. CANDY: PIETER DEVOS (BEL) 2. NASA: STEVE GUERDAT (SUI) 3. NAYANA:PENELOPE LEPREVOST (FRA) 8. POWERPLAY: ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), 11. DIXSON:IAN MILLAR (CAN).