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New horsepower boosts Olympic hopes for 2008 champion Eric Lamaze

The 2008 Olympic champion Eric Lamaze has his sights firmly set on the rescheduled Tokyo Games after acquiring some new horsepower for his Torrey Pines Stable.

In partnership with Mark and Tara Rein, the Canadian showjumper has bought the 11-year-old Belgian sport horse stallion Dieu Merci Van T&L as his Olympic prospect.

The horse was sold to Chris and Thea Stinett’s Heathman Farm LLC as a top mount for Irish rider Cormac Hanley but when those two parted ways earlier this year, Eric was asked to take the horse back to Europe to sell.

“The more I rode him, the more I got an incredible feel from him and wanted to find a way to keep him,” says Eric, who has won Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medals in his three Olympic appearances.

“Once again, I thank Mark and Tara Rein for partnering with me to secure this horse for Canada. As fellow Canadians, it is super exciting for them to have a horse who could potentially represent Canada at next year’s Olympic Games.”

The son of Toulon was bred in Belgium, and produced through the grades by Belgian rider Frederic Vernaet.

“He’s only 11, and I’m very excited for his future,” says Eric. “He is a breeding stallion who already has five- and six-year-olds on the ground; I’ve seen some of his babies jump and was blown away.”

52-year-old Eric had originally been aiming the 12-year-old gelding Idalville D’Esprit, who came from Swiss rider Alain Jufer at the end of last year, for Tokyo. But the rescheduling of the event to 2021 led to the dissolution of the contract with co-owners the Stinetts, which was in place until after the Olympic Games’ original dates.

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“It was very generous of Chris [Stinett] to provide me with Idalville as a prospect for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” says Eric. “I took my time with the horse with that goal in mind. I’ve ridden a lot of horses in my career and consider him to be one of the best.

“It was very disappointing when the Olympics were cancelled for this year, but considering all that is happening in the world, it was the right decision as health and safety must come first. I am grateful to have had Idalville for the short amount of time that I did and I am grateful to Chris for putting his trust in me. I wish him nothing but the best with the horse in the future.”

Eric, who revealed last year that he has been undergoing treatment for a brain tumour, is currently at his European training base in Écaussinnes, Belgium, and is said to be “erring on the side of caution” before resuming his competition schedule as Covid-19 restrictions ease across Europe.

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