There was a particularly poignant moment for Canada’s Eric Lamaze at the Spruce Meadows National tournament on Saturday (8 June) as he claimed his first home victory since publicly revealing in May that he has a brain tumour.
The 2008 Olympic champion took six months out from the sport over the winter, announcing in December that he had “health concerns”. He returned to competition in Wellington, Florida, in March, taking in Royal Windsor and La Baule before returning to his native Canada. So this triumph in the $500,000 RBC Grand Prix riding Chacco Kid was filled with emotion.
“I didn’t get up this morning thinking this was possible,” said 51-year-old Eric. “It shows what a good horse can do for you. When you don’t have the fight in you, they fight for you. It’s one of the victories I will cherish for ever.”
In a seven-horse jump-off, Eric triumphed over his close friend Steve Guerdat (Albfuehren’s Bianca), who he credits with helping him to return to the sport
“This is an ongoing battle for me and today is a gift,” said Eric, the all-time leading money winner at Spruce Meadows, Calgary, with more than $6million in earnings.
“With great support from Steve [Guerdat], my owners and clients, my staff, and people all around the world, you keep fighting and the dream came true. With the great Hickstead was the last time I won this grand prix [in 2010]; he was looking out for me today.”
Eric also claimed victory at the show with his 2016 Olympic bronze medal-winning partner Fine Lady 5.
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“The horses are a big part of why I am here today,” said Eric, who is based in Brussels, Belgium.
“I don’t know what level I will continue riding at as the year goes on but I know horses will always be a part of my life. I want to keep riding and I will keep fighting every day to do this. The horse is the greatest therapy you can have.”
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