Miami, Fla. – April 14, 2017 – The Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) is notorious for its incredible competition at some of the most stunning and unique venues throughout the world, and the second leg of the 2017 season, held in Miami Beach, Florida, did not disappoint.
Only a handful of riders can say they’ve tackled some of the sport’s leading course designer’s tracks successfully, let alone only steps away from the beach, but for Lorenzo de Luca and Stephex Stable’s Halifax van het Kluizebos, it all came together seamlessly on Friday afternoon in the 1.45m/1.50m CSI5* competition.
The premier event, currently in its third year, held its third CSI5* class of the week against the beautiful backdrop of ocean waves. Over 50 accomplished athletes fought to claim top honors and collect valuable points towards the 2017 LGCT tour.
De Luca always turns heads as he enters the arena donned in his navy blue uniform, representing the Italian Air Force. The 30-year-old Italian rider and his four-legged partner further impressed the crowd when he made the Uliano Vezzani-designed track look effortless, clocking in at 67.69 seconds in the first round.
Not only were de Luca and his mount able to execute double-clear efforts, they proved unbeatable against 19 other contenders who qualified for the jump-off. The speedy pair galloped through the timers over the shortened course in a mere 32.64 seconds, edging out second place finishers, Christian Ahlmann (GER) and Caribis Z, who finished in 33.83 seconds.
“When you have 19 people in the jump-off you need to try everything, but I knew I had a careful and fast horse so everything was good,” de Luca said. “I think I made up the time [in the jump-off] on the rollback to the plank and to the second to last vertical. Every time he’s very careful. He’s a super horse,” de Luca said of the talented 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood.
While de Luca has had a stellar career thus far at the CSI5* level, his mount of two years lacks the same amount of experience. The chestnut stallion by Heartbreaker just recently moved up to the 5* level at the end of last year, but that hasn’t affected his recent performances.
Guided by de Luca, Halifax van het Kluizebos showcased his talents in Mexico City, Mexico, just last week in the first leg of this year’s LGCT tour, and on the second day of competition, the brilliant combination walked away with the CSI5* LGCT of Mexico Banorte Trophy.
“I really took my time to bring him to this level. He deserves to be here and he showed everyone today that he deserves to be here. With the indoors, it was a little bit easier to bring him up. He’s a fantastic horse,” de Luca added.
Fortunately for de Luca, his need for speed in the saddle matches his partner’s naturally quick gaits.
“He likes a fast ride. I like to go fast too, so we fit really well together. He doesn’t like so much control; he’s a little bit of a rough horse,” de Luca stated. “He has a lot of character and energy. He just likes to be let go and I do that. He has always had a lot of character as a young horse. I like that he enjoys free time, but when you go to the ring he’s always fantastic.”
After Miami, and with back-to-back victories so far, de Luca will turn his focus towards competing in Shanghai, China, for the next leg of the LGCT tour. De Luca is confident in his current string of horses and feels they are ready for the upcoming season.
“I have a super group of horses. They really fit the program of the tour. I always try to give them a little break in between. That’s the key to keeping them in the sport for as long as we want.”
Going forward, de Luca plans to jump Halifax van het Kluizebos in Saturday’s qualifying round. However, he will compete Armitages Boy in the Longines GCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach CSI5* on Saturday afternoon.
Beach goers and onlookers stood in the sand elbow-to-elbow just to experience a glimpse of the exhilarating atmosphere of the horse show all while soaking in the ocean breeze. As riders prepared their horses for the jump-off in the schooling area, McLain Ward was asked his prediction on who he thought would likely take home Friday’s prize. Ward, currently ranked as the number one rider in the world, had his eye on the dynamic duo of Jessica Springsteen (USA) and her longtime partner, Davendy S.
A packed crowd watched as Springsteen and Stone Hill Farm’s Davendy S galloped around the shortened course hoping to catch de Luca’s time, but they were unable to do so, completing the course in 34.13 seconds for a third place finish.
LGCT Miami’s premier destination, which combines the luxurious atmosphere of South Beach with the elite show jumping scene, makes this highly-anticipated event one that should not be missed.
Saturday will mark the final day of the spectacular LGCT Miami Beach competition, which will conclude with the Longines GCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach CSI5*. The class is scheduled to start promptly at 4:45 p.m. and participants will seek to claim valuable LGCT points in addition to generous prize money.
Results: Longines Global Champions Tour 1.45m/1.50m CSI5*
- 066 Halifax van het Kluizebos Lorenzo de Luca ITA 0 67.69 0 32.64
- 053 Caribis Z Christian Ahlmann GER 0 69.06 0 33.83
- 027 Davendy S Jessica Springsteen USA 0 64.72 0 34.13
- 080 Ustina Sitte Nicola Philippaerts BEL 0 67.02 0 35.03
- 058 Zinius Harrie Smolders NED 0 68.51 4 31.87
- 119 Apart Pieter Devos BEL 0 68.58 4 32.90
- 002 Limonchello NT Christian Kukuk GER 0 68.77 4 33.97
- 022 Electric Touch Max Kuhner AUT 0 64.86 4 34.36
- 092 New York Hardin Towell USA 0 69.53 4 35.17
- 012 Danique Alberto Zorzi ITA 0 68.15 4 35.20
- 095 Arakorn Geir Gulliksen NOR 0 69.88 4 37.31
- 117 Saloman Maikel van der Vleuten NED 0 68.39 4 38.64