Canadian Olympic champion Eric Lamaze added another accolade to his list of accomplishments on Thursday of the third week of the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). He notched his 25th WEF Challenge Cup victory, this time in the $35,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 3 with Chacco Kid at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL. The 12-week WEF circuit runs through April 1, 2018, and offers more than $9 million in prize money.
The third week of WEF, sponsored by Adequan®, runs January 24-28 and features the $132,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI 3* on Saturday, January 27, at 7 p.m.
The $35,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 3 had 85 entries, and there were 27 clears over the course designed by Peter Grant of Canada. Seventeen of those returned for the jump-off, and it was once again Lamaze and Chacco Kid who were fastest to lead the victory gallop. They crossed the timers in a speedy 40.02 seconds, the fastest time of the day and also a clear round. Lamaze now ties Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward (USA) for 25 WEF Challenge Cup victories, the most in the history of the class. Lamaze and Chacco Kid won this class just last week as well.
Second place went to Sunday’s 1.45m Classic winners, Marilyn Little (USA) and Clearwater, owned by Karen O’Connor. They finished clear in 41.37 seconds. Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden (USA) and Abigail Wexner’s HHS Hercules were third in 42.28 seconds.
Eric Lamaze (CAN) & Chacco Kid in their presentation ceremony with ring master Steve Rector.
While the class was stacked full of tough competition, Lamaze felt it was a good learning experience to go for speed with Chacco Kid, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Chacco-Blue x Come On owned by the Chacco Kid Group.
“Chacco Kid is learning to go fast,” said Lamaze. “Last year I didn’t really take any chances with him in the jump-off. This is a lesson to get to know your horse and to take some chances. This was a good 1.50m, so the jumps were up there, but still, you have to get to know your horse. If you’re ever in a situation that it’s the largest prize money or the biggest competition in the world, you’re going to feel better taking some risks, knowing that you’ve done it before.”
Lamaze knew going into the class that he would compete in the jump-off, even though Thursday’s class is the qualifier for the Saturday night grand prix.
“It’s the beginning of the season,” he explained. “The horses are fresh. He feels really good. He’s jumping well. Nothing is telling me that I should have saved him for Saturday. I have a superstition about that. I feel it’s bad luck.”
“The Chacco Kid Group is formed out of wonderful owners that are supporting me with this horse,” said the rider, who boasts Olympic individual gold, team silver, and individual bronze medals. “I couldn’t be happier for them. This is a horse I believed in from the beginning, so I’m really happy for him.”
Earlier on Thursday, Laura Chapot continued her winning streak in the Douglas Elliman Real Estate 1.45m Jumper division with victory on Out of Ireland, owned by The Edge. She was almost three seconds faster than second-place finishers, Alex Granato and Beorn, owned by Moyer Farm LLC. Beezie Madden (USA) and Abigail Wexner’s Coach placed third.
Source: Press Release by Jennifer Wood Media Inc. for ESP / WEF
Photos: © Sportfot