Five-star grand prix winner retired after injury: ‘I’ll always be there with oranges and bananas and a heart full of love’

  • Eric Lamaze’s major five-star grand prix winner Chacco Kid has been retired from competition after sustaining a leg injury.

    The Chacco Kid Group’s 16-year-old gelding, who had been competed by fellow Canadian Beth Underhill and French rider Nina Mallevaey since July last year, will spend a “nice retirement in the field”.

    Beth and Chacco Kid were competing in the 1.50m ATB Cup on Sunday (21 June) at the Spruce Meadows “National” tournament in Calgary when the horse sustained the injury.

    “Chacco was landing and turning from the double Rolex vertical when one of his hind feet clipped the front foot,” said Eric.

    “Normally, the front shoe would come off but in this case it didn’t. He tried to step out of it, resulting in an injury to his check ligament. At 16 years old, it’s too much to expect him to come back and jump again. Instead, we’re looking forward to giving him a nice retirement in the field in Belgium where we can see him every day and enjoy reliving many memories.”

    Eric, who announced his own retirement from competition in March owing to his heath, enjoyed numerous international victories with the Oldenburg gelding by Chacco-Blue, out of a Come On mare.

    Eric discovered Chacco Kid through Marcel Delestre, who was training the Colombian showjumping team at the time. The horse was imported from Colombia and joined Eric’s string in 2016.

    The pair represented Canada at the 2018 World Equestrian Games and their top result together was the $500,000 (£315,008) RBC Grand Prix of Canada, presented by Rolex, at the 2019 Spruce Meadows “National” tournament. It was Eric’s first competition since publicly revealing he had a brain tumour.

    “My favourite memory with Chacco was winning the RBC Grand Prix when I wasn’t well,” he said.

    “The win was 70% horse and 30% rider. He knew he had to take care of me and seemed to rise to the occasion.”

    The pair’s other major wins included the $133,700 (£84,233) CANA Cup at the 2019 CSIO5* Spruce Meadows Masters. Chacco Kid also enjoyed success with several of Eric’s Torrey Pines Stable riders, including Kara Chad as well as Beth and Nina.

    “Having success with four different riders over the course of his career is exceptional,” said Eric. “His personality, his heart, and his carefulness allowed him to manoeuvre some of the biggest courses in the world.”

    Eric added that it was sad to see a horse who has “done so much for so many riders” leave the sport this way, and for Chacco Kid’s owners, the Chacco Kid Group; Rick and Sara Mershad, Ludi and Carol Sollak, and Andy and Carlene Ziegler.

    “There are accidents that, even with the best care, we cannot prevent. On days like these, we should remember and celebrate this extraordinary horse and all that he accomplished,” he said.

    Carol said it had “been an honour” to be part of the horse’s career.

    “He has the biggest heart and is always happy to see everyone who walks into the barn. Chacco is a competitor and thrives on winning,” she said.

    “He and Eric had such a successful career together and, after Eric’s retirement, Chacco had the same drive to win with his new riders.

    “I have many fond memories travelling the world to watch Eric and Chacco. I will miss seeing him in the show ring, but I will always be there with oranges and bananas and a heart full of love for him.”

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