TORONTO — Olympic champion Eric Lamaze made a triumphant return to Toronto by winning the first international show jumping competition of this year's Royal Horse Show on Wednesday.
The native of nearby Schomberg, Ont., grew up competing at the annual event. Since relocating his training base to Europe in 2006, he has only returned to The Royal on two occasions with the last one being in 2011.
Lamaze and his 2016 Rio Olympic individual bronze medal partner, Fine Lady 5, made quick work of the course to win the $37,000 McKee Family International Challenge, rocketing to the top of the leaderboard in 47.90 seconds.
Erynn Ballard of Tottenham, Ont, came the closest to Lamaze's time, stopping the clock in 49.43 seconds riding Judge hof ter Zeedycke for second place. Australia's Rowan Willis took third with a clear round in 50.47 seconds aboard Calisto 26.
"I said if I ever go back to the Royal, it's going to be to win," said Lamaze. "If I'm going to be on my home ground, I wanted to bring the best."
Lamaze will be competing in international show jumping events throughout the remainder of The Royal with Fine Lady 5, owned by Andy and Carlene Ziegler's Artisan Farms and his own Torrey Pines Stable, and his other top mount, Chacco Kid, owned by the Chacco Kid Group.
The Canadian Press