In winning a $32,000 show-jumping event in Wellington, Fla. on Thursday, reigning Olympic champion Eric Lamaze feels he’s found a gem in Coriana Van Klapscheut.
He rode the mare with the name that will never make a headline to victory in the $32,000 Challenge Cup in a field of 82 horses.
Ten horses went into a jump-off on the course designed by Anthony D’Ambrosio, but none could catch Coriana Van Klapscheut, a 10-year-old Belgian warmblood mare that had always played second banana to Lamaze’s Olympic mount Hickstead, which died last year.
“She’s a horse that I have mostly used as a speed horse,” Lamaze said. “Behind Hickstead, she was always the second horse. I always thought she was brave and could jump the big fences, but she was never asked the question too many times. When I had no choice at the end of the year, she surprised me.”
Lamaze had two major events still to contest in Europe after the death of Hickstead, one of them being the $260,912 (Canadian) Rolex Top 10 Final held in Paris.
On Coriana, Lamaze finished second in that event.
“I was a pleasant surprise, not only that she did it, but that she did it easily,” Lamaze said. “She was second in the Top 10 in Paris and that’s one of the most difficult classes in the world that I’ve ever been in.”
In the event in Florida on Friday, Lamaze was the first rider of the day to post a clear round over the course, and then the first to do the jump-off course, which they finished cleanly in 37.04 seconds.
British veteran Nick Skelton came closest, stopping the clock in 37.99 seconds while riding Carlo 273.
Lamaze said he knows the mare is extremely fast and “spends no time in the air.”
“I thought for sure I gave it a very good go,” he said. “If I went again, I don’t think I could beat that time.”
During the 12-week long Winter Equestrian Festival in Florida, Lamaze has been riding other horses he doesn’t know as well as Coriana – or horses that have less experience. “That’s what I use this circuit for, for preparation for the rest of the year,” he said. “It was fun to ride Coriana, a horse that I know really well and that I know I can be competitive on.”
Lamaze also finished 11th with a new horse, Hunter’s Scendix, an ebony-coated jumper that came into his stable at the end of last year. In the horse’s first appearance in the weekly Challenge Cup series, Lamaze jumped cleanly with him, but exceeded the time allowed by only .11 seconds, enough to keep him out of the jump-off.
“He’s extremely good and he’s extremely careful,” Lamaze said of Hunter’s Scendix, a 9-year-old Hannoverian that he owns in partnership with LVS Hunters of Belgium. “He reminds me so much of Hickstead. He’s very much the same type of horse. I have to get used to him and I need to get to know him but you can’t help but feel excited watching that horse jump.”
He said he feels he’s put together a good string of horses after the death of Hickstead. “It will be fun to mix them around a bit,” he said.