Miami Beach, Fla. – April 20, 2019 – The final day of the 2019 Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) of Miami Beach was sent off on Saturday evening with the long-awaited CSI5* grand prix set against the picturesque background of the Atlantic Ocean. The venue’s sidelines filled quickly with beachgoers and equine enthusiasts, soon overflowing as the performance captured the attention of hundreds of individuals. Thirty-five horse-and-athlete combinations qualified for the 1.60m finale based on their previous scores in the preceding Global Championship League (GCL) competition with 32 of the horse-and-rider combinations electing to return for the individual competition. Ultimately, it was Belgium’s Pieter Devos and Claire Z who rose higher than the tide, capturing the win.
The delicately built course designed by Uliano Vezzani (ITA) was technical, asking difficult questions for athletes to answer within the 78-second time allowed. A series of thirteen fragile fences were set for the first round which included blind corners, square oxers, and the ever-troublesome aqua colored fence with a simulated water hazard that kept athletes out of the ribbons during all three days of the competition. Of the 32 to enter the arena, only 25 made it through the entire track with eight of those individuals putting in clear rides to move on to the jump-off.
A tense atmosphere anxiously watched on as athletes were asked to jump the seven obstacles in under 50 seconds for the jump-off phase. Many struggled with the tight rollbacks and tall verticals that asked riders to check all of the boxes while on course, leaving no room for error. A total of five athletes completed the shortened jump-off course before a clear round was finally shown. The crowd erupted as Devos and Claire Z soared over the final oxer, racing through the timers to deliver the first fault-free ride in a time of 37.38 seconds. Only two others proceeded after to produce clear rounds, but Devos held the lead as the fastest clear ride to win the 2019 LGCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach CSI5*.
Devos now holds the lead for the overall standings in the Global Champions Tour with a total of 88 points. His partner in the win, Claire Z (Clearway x Coronado), is an 11-year-old Zangersheide owned by Devos himself since 2015. Together, the pair earned the bronze medal in the 2018 LGCT Berlin Grand Prix, one of the three podium placings Devos has accumulated since 2014, including his bronze medal finish in the 2015 LGCT Miami Beach Grand Prix with his mount Candy.
The silver medal was presented to Harrie Smolders (NED) for his double-clear ride with his FEI World Equestrian Games™ partner, Don VHP Z N.O.P. The 15-year-old Zangersheid stallion owned by Copernicus Stables LLC was the final horse to enter the arena, crossing the timers with Smolders in 37.42 seconds, only .04 of a second behind Devos and his mare. Currently standing in fourth for the Longines world rankings, the thirty-nine-year-old Olympic athlete is no stranger to the winner’s circle with 116 total wins to his FEI record. At the end of the LGCT Miami Beach competition, Smolders increased in the 2019 LGCT overall standings to third.
Malin Baryard-Johnsson (SWE) and H&M Indiana were the second to last pair to try their hand at the jump-off, finishing in 38.48 seconds with no rails on the ground. Baryard-Johnsson has been showing the 11-year-old BWP mare by Kashmir van Schuttershof since 2016, winning the team silver medal at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon. The Swedish athlete also captured team silver at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Prior to Saturday’s grand prix, the second round of the Global Championships League (GCL) competition took center beach for leg three of the nineteen total legs. The team portion featured 15 of the 16 teams that will go head-to-head in November for the GC playoffs in Prague. Taking the win on their home turf, the Miami Celtics galloped to victory, adding no penalties to the scoreboard during round two and walking away with only 6 total team penalties after the third leg. The team made no horse or rider changes from their round one ride on Thursday afternoon, keeping Irishmen Shane Breen and Michael Duffy in the irons. The reserve team, the St. Tropez Pirates, concluded the course with a total of 7 penalties, adding 4 to their round one score of 3 by Devos and Athina Onassis. As the only other team to maintain their overnight score of 8, Baryard-Johnsson and Emil Hallundbaek captured the third place title for the Berlin Eagles.
Twenty-five individual riders tried their hand at the GCL Miami Beach final to qualify for the GCT Grand Prix to follow, 15 of which produced clear rides. Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo of Columbia took the win aboard G&C Arrayan with a time of 66.33 seconds, Margie Goldstein-Engle and Dicas following closely behind in 66.44 seconds for the United States. A gap of 2.17 seconds separated Peder Fredricson from Golstein-Engle’s time, riding H&M Christian K for Sweden.
Next, the 2019 Tour heads to Shanghai, China, from May 3–5, followed by 17 other picturesque venues across the globe, culminating competition November 21–24 in Prague, Czech Republic, for the GC Playoffs and the only indoor event of the season. This year’s global circuit features 20 total stops, adding the new cities of Stockholm, Sweden, from June 14–16, Montreal, Canada, September 20–22 and New York, September 27–29, consolidating the circuit’s presence in the USA as the final stop before the Prague Playoffs.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Pieter Devos – LGCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach CSI5* winner
On his Claire Z:
“I’m super happy with the performance of my horse. She’s been jumping amazing these two weeks at two completely different venues. I’m very glad I did her and I think there’s a lot more good to come with her because she’s only 11 years old. I’m very happy. She has a super mentality but she has a lot of blood so that means a lot of energy. In the past few weeks, I have really been able to understand her. She is very careful and scopey and I’m looking forward to doing a lot of shows with her.”
On being the series leader:
“It’s a good feeling to be in the lead, it means I was consistent. But there’s only been three legs and there are a lot more to go. We know the sport is a tough sport and not every week is the same. Hopefully, I can be on top for a few more weeks. In Shanghai, I will ride my horse Apart and I am also bringing a new one. I’m really looking forward to jumping her. I think she will be a good horse for this season.
Harrie Smolders – Second place
On Don VHP Z N.O.P.:
“I knew I was close [ to winning]. I knew it was going to be very close. It’s a shame but I can only blame myself that I didn’t catch the time. My horse jumped amazing and gave me an amazing performance. Last weekend he was third in Mexico City and then second in the grand prix. Not many horses can do that. I’m really satisfied with my horse’s performance. I am not sure if I can have a better one than him again.”
Malin Baryard-Johnsson – Third place
On H&M Indiana:
“I am super happy with my mare today, she is truly amazing. She started jumping big classes at the beginning of last year here. She is just starting to get really competitive and is really amazing. I’ve been in the sport for so many years and I’m so happy to have a horse like H & M Indiana. She’s one of a kind and I think she’ll be really competitive all year.”
On Saturday’s course:
“I jumped clear rounds so I thought the courses were great. My mare has been getting better and better with every round that she jumps. It’s really nice to ride at a place like this.”
Jan Tops – LGCT president
On the LGCT standings:
“Pieter [Devos] is in the lead just in front of Daniel [Deusser]. On the other hand, Harrie [Smolders] is in third with only two results and they are very strong results. I think Harrie has as good of a chance as anybody.”
On the course:
“I think today the class was fantastic. There were 8 in the jump-off and I always say my preference is between 4 to 8 and that’s what we did in the grand prix. Even the jump-off was delicate – you saw faults everywhere. I think Uliano [Vezzani] did the perfect job. We have these events every week we must make sure these horses keep jumping because it’s very difficult to replace these kinds of top horses.”
On LGCT Miami Beach:
“It’s important for the GCT to be in America – America is a great horse nation. All of the people love this event here. They are all looking forward to it, even the 2* riders. It’s not a big place but it’s a vibrant place – it’s unique, it’s different and that’s what the tour is about. Last week we had a huge grass ring and now we have a little bit different sand ring. If you become the winner of the circuit then I think you’re an all-around champion and you’re very diverse. For me, this is the world champion in our sport.”
On the newly-added North American stops for 2019:
“[New York and Montreal] are two new visits back-to-back during the third and fourth week of September. We’re looking very much forward to that. I think they’ll be very different events but also very special.”
LGCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach CSI5*
Place / Horse / Athlete / Country / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Claire Z / Pieter Devos / BEL / 0 | 72.34 / 0 | 37.38
2. Don VHP Z N.O.P. / Harrie Smolders / NED / 0 | 75.80 / 0 | 37.42
3. H&M Indiana / Malin Baryard-Johnsson / SWE / 0 | 72.70 / 0 | 38.48
4. California / Edwina Tops-Alexander / AUS / 0 | 71.56 / 4 | 37.38
5. H & M Extra / Olivier Philippaerts / BEL / 0 | 72.31 / 4 | 46.77
6. Calisto Blue / Daniel Deusser / GER / 0 | 72.68 / 8 | 36.90
7. Hello Mr President / Scott Brash / GBR / 0 | 69.81 / 8 | 37.02
8. Take A Chance On Me Z / Christian Ahlmann / GER / 0 | 74.73 / 8 | 42.47
9. Alejandro / Shane Sweetnam / IRL / 4 | 69.57
10. G & C Arrayan / Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo / COL / 4 | 70.37
11. Dana Blue / Maikel van der Vleuten / NED / 4 | 71.91
12. Curious George / Laura Kraut / USA / 4 | 73.83