Brussels, Belgium – 2008 Olympic champion Eric Lamaze has welcomed a new Olympic show jumping prospect to his Torrey Pines Stable.
In partnership with Mark and Tara Rein, Lamaze has purchased Dieu Merci van T&L, an 11-year-old Belgian Sport Horse stallion (Toulon x Corrado I), as his Tokyo Olympic prospect. Lamaze had originally brokered the sale of the horse at the end of 2019, to Chris and Thea Stinett’s Heathman Farm LLC of the United States, as a top mount for their rider, Ireland’s Cormac Hanley. When Heathman Farm and Hanley parted ways this spring, Stinett asked Lamaze to take the horse back to Europe to sell.
“After the horse came to me in Europe, the more I rode it the more I got an incredible feel from it and wanted to find a way to keep it,” explained Lamaze. “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 that could potentially represent Canada at next year’s Olympic Games.”
Dieu Merci van T&L was bred in Belgium by Luc Tilleman and has been lightly campaigned at the five-star level.
“He’s only 11, and I’m very excited for his future,” said Lamaze. “He is a breeding stallion that already has five and six-year-olds on the ground; I’ve seen some of his babies jump and was blown away.”
Dieu Merci van T&L will continue to be an active breeding stallion, standing at stud at Torrey Pines Stable alongside another recent acquisition, Falco de Tatihou, a five-year-old chestnut Selle Français stallion (Ogrion des Champs x JPC Modesto) also owned in partnership with the Rein Family LLC.
Lamaze had originally been aiming Idalville d’Esprit, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Carabas v/d Wateringhoeve x Nabab de Reve) owned in partnership with the Stinetts, toward the Tokyo Olympics. However, the rescheduling of the event to 2021 led to the dissolution of the contract, which was in place until after the Olympic Games’ original dates.
“It was very generous of Chris (Stinett) to provide me with Idalville as a prospect for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” said Lamaze, who has won Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medals in his three Olympic appearances. “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,” continued Lamaze. “I am grateful to have had Idalville for the short amount of time that I did and grateful to Chris for putting his trust in me. I wish him nothing but the best with the horse in the future.”
Lamaze is currently at his European training base in Écaussinnes, Belgium. As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease in Europe, he is carefully weighing all options and erring on the side of caution before resuming his competition schedule. He continues to train at home and has added Canadian Show Jumping Team member and 2006 World Equestrian Games veteran Chris Pratt to the Torrey Pines Stable team.
“With everything that is going on due to COVID-19, Spencer Smith, who is a big part of our team, decided to stay in the U.S. and work in his parents’ business this summer. We miss him very much and look forward to his return. We are also awaiting the arrival of another one of our American riders, Hayley Barnhill, once COVID-19 abates,” explained Lamaze.
“In the meantime, one of my long-time fellow Canadian show jumping teammates, Chris Pratt, who is based nearby in Holland has joined the team,” continued Lamaze, 52. “Chris is a good rider with loads of experience and is a great addition to what we do. We’ll see what the future holds, but my hope is that he’ll find a permanent home within the Torrey Pines organization.”
With locations in Wellington, Florida, and outside Brussels, Belgium, Lamaze’s Torrey Pines Stable is a large training and sales business specializing in international sport horse sales. For more information, visit www.ericlamaze.com.
Photo: ©Hippo Foto – Dirk Caremans/FEI