Miami, Fla. – April 7, 2018 – On Saturday morning, Australian show jumper Edwina Tops-Alexander’s groom, Reesa Pihu, asked her, ‘Should I go ahead and pack the trunks?’ With her mount, California, not feeling completely 100 percent, Tops-Alexander was unsure whether or not to go through with competing in the weekend’s main event.
It was not until 11 a.m., after a chiropractic session courtesy of U.S. show jumper Margie Engle’s husband, Steve, and much deliberation among her team, that she decided to put her faith in the mare’s abilities and compete in Saturday’s Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) Grand Prix of Miami Beach CSI5*. California ultimately proved she was still feeling in top form as Tops-Alexander clinched her second LGCT Miami Beach grand prix title, after winning the class in 2016 aboard Lintea Tequila.
Miami’s oceanside venue welcomed 35 international athletes in the event’s grand finale on Saturday afternoon. Rails fell all over course designers Uliano Vezzani and Pier Francesco Bazzocchi’s challenging first round track, built at 1.60m in height, with only five successfully navigating all 13 obstacles completely fault-free to add their names to the jump-off.
The first three athletes in the jump-off, Pieter Devos (BEL), Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (ESP) and Darragh Kenny (IRL), each incurred 4 faults over the short course to kick-off the tie-breaking round. As fourth in the order, Qatar’s Bassem Mohammed posted the first double-clear performance aboard Gunder, owned by the Qatar Equestrian Federation, in a conservative 35.47 seconds.
Having seen Mohammed’s clear round, Tops-Alexander knew exactly what she had to do and executed her plan flawlessly, crossing the finish line for the win in 32.07 seconds. Mohammed secured second place honors, while Kenny rounded out the top three with Cassini Z as the fastest 4-faulter in 30.87 seconds.
Tops-Alexander has been competing the 10-year-old KWPN, owned by Equizone Edwina Alexander, since late 2016 and quickly formed a strong partnership with the mare, winning two CSI5* grand prix events in 2017.
A top contender on the LGCT circuit, as well as wife to LGCT President Jan Tops, Tops-Alexander was back-to-back overall LGCT champion in 2011 and 2012, and is looking to reclaim her title in 2018. At the end of Saturday’s competition, LGCT Mexico City grand prix winner, Scott Brash (GBR), remains at the top of the overall standings with 67 points followed by Devos in second with 60 points and Tops-Alexander in third with 54 points.
Saturday’s win also extends Tops-Alexander an invitation to compete in the new GC Prague playoffs, where each individual grand prix winner throughout the 2018 LGCT season will earn a place in the Longines Global Champions Super Grand Prix — the ultimate face-off in December for the lion’s share of €1.25 million.
Prior to Saturday’s grand prix, the Prague Lions completed the second round of the Global Champions League (GCL) competition with a win, scoring a team combined total of 8 faults. Anna Kellnerova and Gerco Schröder came into round two with 6 faults only to add a time fault each to their overall score. Sergio Alvarez Moya and the 11-year-old stallion, Charmeur, took home the individual title to qualify for the LGCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach CSI5*, while Tops-Alexander and California also finished fourth individually with just 1 time fault.
The next stop on the 2018 LGCT will be in Shanghai, China, April 20–22 followed by 13 other stops at spectacular destinations around the world before culminating in Prague, Czech Republic, in December.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Edwina Tops-Alexander – LGCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach CSI5* winner
“I got California at the end of 2016. She had placed in a couple of 5* grand prix [events with Abdel Said]. I went straight into a big show in Paris with her and she only had one down. I rode her until March 2017 when I found out I was pregnant. Now, I’ve been back riding since September. This is the third grand prix I’ve won with her. So far, it’s been a great partnership and she’s truly an amazing horse. I didn’t really know until about 11 a.m. today that I was going to be riding this horse. She just didn’t feel 100 percent to me. I have to really thank the team for getting us to the ring.”
On Saturday’s course:
“I think Uliano did an unbelievable job the whole weekend. There were faults everywhere. I think he’s great at what he does and knows his job very well. With a course like that, you have to ride your own horse and try the best you can. Obviously, being at the end was an easy spot. It paid off to be in that position. I know [Bassem] could’ve been a little faster, but he was going for that clear. I didn’t think I was that fast until I looked up at the screen. I really didn’t believe it at first but it was a great win.”
On LGCT Miami Beach:
“It’s an amazing venue! It’s great to be here. It feels almost like a bit of a vacation. There are kites and parachutes and people walking around in bikinis everywhere. There’s a lot happening, but it’s a beautiful atmosphere. I think everyone is really happy here. It’s fresh, original and unique. Every year it gets better and better.”
Bassem Mohammed – Second place
“He jumped amazing today. Coming into the jump-off, he jumped even better. We’re really starting to understand each other and getting to know one another.”
On Saturday’s performances:
“I think it’s been a great start to the year. Having Jan [Tops] help me out has been a great experience so far. I think it’s going to be a good year!”
Darragh Kenny – Third place
On Saturday’s performances:
“I felt super with my horse. He jumped great. I was really happy with the way he jumped. I was a bit disappointed with the way I rode. I think I could’ve played it a little safer to the last jump and not had it down. Edwina and Bassem are both fast riders and I felt some pressure to go for it. I was really happy with it other than the last fence.”
On Cassini Z:
“I haven’t had him long at all — only about six months. I think he’s going to be a great horse one day. He’s really come a long way in the time I’ve had him.”
Jan Tops – LGCT president
On Saturday’s results:
“California tried very hard today. She’s been a really great horse for us. Bassem was a real machine. He’s been very consistent. He did the right thing today and he fought for that moment [to be the first clear]. He rode it very safe all around, but overall it was a very, very good result.”
On LGCT Miami Beach:
“It’s not easy to build for this quality of horses. With 35 competitors, you don’t want too many clears. It’s a very prestigious class. I think it went over very well. The whole place was packed. It was a great atmosphere.”
LGCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach CSI5*:
Place / Horse / Athlete / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / Time
1. California / Edwina Tops-Alexander / AUS / Equizone Edwina Alexander / 0 / 0 / 32.07
2. Gunder / Bassem Mohammed / QAT / Qatar Equestrian Federation / 0 / 0 / 35.47
3. Cassini Z / Darragh Kenny / IRL / Everlong, LLC and Ann Thompson / 0 / 4 / 30.87
4. Claire Z / Pieter Devos / BEL / Devos Stables / 0 / 4 / 30.98
5. Fidux / Eduardo Alvarez Aznar / ESP / Kaliyuga S.L. / 0 / 4 / 33.90
6. Coree / Gregory Wathelet / BEL / Nybor Pferde GmbH & Co.KG and Gregory Wathelet / 4 / 69.34
7. Gin Chin Van Het Lindenhof / Bertram Allen / IRL / Ballywalter Bloodstock / 4 / 69.58
8. Manodie II H / Georgina Bloomberg / USA / Gotham Enterprizes LLC / 4 / 70.85
9. Dalila De La Pomme / Evelina Tovek / SWE / Susanne Tovek / 4 / 71.31
10. Ursula XII / Scott Brash / GBR / Lady Pauline Harris and Lady Pauline Kirkham / 4 / 71.50
11. Winning Good / Ben Maher / GBR / Poden Farms / 4 / 71.61
12. Cool Feeling / Ben Asselin / CAN / Attache Stables / 4 / 71.91