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Eric Lamaze looking for the right Olympic mount

Canadian equestrian rider Eric Lamaze rides new horse Luikka in a handout photo. Lamaze has added several new horses to his stable as he looks towards defending his Olympic gold medal this summer without long-time mount Hickstead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Sportfot

HO-Sportfot/CP

Canadian show jumper Eric Lamaze has added several new horses to his stable as he looks towards defending his Olympic gold medal this summer without long-time mount Hickstead.

Lamaze has acquired seven new horses since Hickstead died of an aortic rupture during a competition in November.

Three of the new mounts are Olympic hopefuls — 10-year-old gelding Verdi, 10-year-old mare Luikka and nine-year-old mare Derly Chin de Muze.

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"There is still a long way to go before London, but these are the three horses that we are targeting towards the Olympic Games," Lamaze said Monday in a statement. "Losing Hickstead was obviously very difficult, but with these new horses, the Olympics can now very much be a reality again. I am really excited for the future."

After Hickstead's death, the Schomberg, Ont., native said he wanted to take some time to think about his future in the sport.

He rode Hickstead to a gold medal in the individual show jumping event at the 2008 Beijing Games and led Canada to a silver in the team competition.

The other horses he's added to his stable are eight-year-olds Hunter's Scendix and Wang Chung M2S, and seven-year-olds Cachaca 4 and Evano S.

Lamaze is currently in Wellington, Fla., for the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival, where Canadian riders will be evaluated for Olympic selection.

The Canadian team will then train in Belgium starting in April before returning to North America for the Spruce Meadows summer tournaments in Calgary.

Lamaze, who also coaches several top show jumpers, was ranked No. 1 in the Rolex Rider Rankings for six consecutive months during the 2011 season.

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