The Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach is held on the breathtaking shoreline of Florida’s coast, with competitors, spectators and VIPs wowed by the incredible surroundings. The world’s best riders and horses flexed their muscles for the first time on the 2016 LGCT season circuit, with two CSI5* classes taking place in the opening day of top level competition.
Former world number 1 and Olympic gold medallist Scott Brash (GBR) summed up the incredible atmosphere: “To be on Miami Beach, and to ride with the ocean right there, it’s unique and special. Everyone wants to come to Miami Beach!” Entry to the event is free to the public all weekend.
Ben bags the first
The weekend’s opening clash took place on Thursday and saw Britain’s Olympic gold medallist Ben Maher and his fiery chestnut gelding Aristo Z steal the win. Ben galloped away from the rest of the field in the CSI5* 1.45m class, a second ahead of young Belgian star Jos Verlooy (BEL) and Farfelu de la Pomme. Third place went to Bassem Hassan Mohammed (QAT) and Argelith Squid, who finished just tenths away from Jos. Speaking about his win, Ben said: “[Aristo] is definitely a specialist in this type of arena, he loves Cannes and Monaco so we saved him specially for here in Miami – he likes this ocean beach weather!”
And it was a stunning example of Miami Beach’s beautiful climate.
Laura Renwick (GBR), Jane Richard Philips (SUI) and Alberto Michán Halbinger (MEX) were looking in fine form ahead of this weekend’s Grand Prix, finishing well within the top ten.
Course-designer Uliano Vezzani set a welcoming track for the first round of CSI5* competition, with a total tally of 25 riders jumping double clear. Last year’s Grand Prix winner Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Guv’nor had an unlucky time fault, with US rider Kent Farrington picking up two faults in the first phase. This was the first opportunity for the riders to really flex their muscles ahead of the Grand Prix.
The flying Italian
As the day unfolded, speed demon Emanuele Gaudiano of Italy won the CSI5* feature class with his beautiful grey stallion Caspar 232, finishing an impressive two full seconds ahead of McLain Ward (USA). In a showcase of speed and agility over the 1.50/1.55m course, the Italian sliced out every stride possible, galloping to the fences and shaving off time in every area. Young talent Bertram Allen (IRL) took a strong third place, with chestnut gelding Quiet Easy. The tough course set by Uliano Vezzani saw just nine riders jump clear.
Sunbathers and spectators lined the arena, just a stone’s throw from the water’s edge, to watch the world’s top horses and riders battling it out. USA riders Kent Farrington, Ali Wolff, Beezie Maddon, Laura Kraut and Quentin Judge all finished high on the scoreboard over the day’s two big competitions, much to the crowd’s delight. Laura spoke about the uniqueness of this event: “I think everyone agrees [last year] was one of the most phenomenal events of the year. What makes it great is you have all the equestrian enthusiasts here, and then all the beach-goers – you can just walk up in your bathing suit!”
Germany’s David Will and his stunning 16-year-old chestnut mare Mic Mac du Tillard took first place in Friday’s opening CSI5* class against the clock. Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA) continued his flying form following Thursday’s speed class win, riding Guess 6 to third place, and Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer and the impressive Balou Rubin R took the second spot.
Another combination who look on form are Bassem Hassan Mohammed and Argelith Squid, who finished third in yesterday’s opening class, and fifth this afternoon. Jane Richard Philips (SUI), Daniel Deusser (GER) and Bertram Allen (IRL) all looked in good shape too.