Supermodel, businesswoman, television host and actress Elle Macpherson joined VIP guests at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach today with her husband Jeffrey Soffer, the billionaire Florida property developer and a keen showjumping fan. The glamorous couple joined guests from the U.S. and across the world in the stunning VIP Lounge overlooking the main arena and across to the azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Enthusiastic spectators lined the arena, lapping up the incredible spectacle of World Champion riders and horses show jumping on Miami Beach next to the waves. As tourists were swimming only metres away, the most famous riders in the world today were in hot competition for the opening round of the 2015 season. Families enjoyed getting up close to the action as they strolled along the beach.
Talented amateur U.S. riders including Andrew and Carlene Ziegler, who are also sponsors of competitions at the Miami Beach event, Paige Johnson, Adrienne Sternlicht, Tara Couch and Jennifer Gates joined seasoned performers like Laura Kraut, Kent Farrington and McLain Ward on the competition stage. HE Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani was also among the guests enjoying top-level show jumping in the latest new destination on the Longines Global Champions Tour circuit.
Hardin Towell Snatches the Artisan Farms Trophy
It was a home win for the USA in the feature class of the day, the Artisan Farms Trophy. Hardin Towell and Cadence, owned by Jennifer Gates, were just too fast for the rest of the combinations who took to the testing Uliano Vezzani course - the pair stopped the clock at a lightening 37.15s, 2nd place went to Steve Guerdat and Concetto Son in 38.25s and 3rd to Maikel van der Vleuten and VDL Groep Arera C in 38.71s. The American really showed just how fast he could be to beat two of the quickest European riders on the circuit!
The first round of the class was a deceptively testing course with no real bogey fences, though a smattering of tricky rails caught out many. Of the 56 starters, 13 jumped clear in the stunning arena, watched closely by the crowds drawn to the to see these fantastic riders in action. The jump-off course offered some daring turn-backs and risky gallops but Hardin never faltered, taking a commanding win. With tomorrow's American Invitational and Saturday's Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach Grand Prix still to come, the home team are on flying form and we could well see another big U.S. victory over the coming days.
Carlos Lopez Gallops to Victory in First Miami Beach CSI5*
Carlos Lopez (COL) and Zephyr II claimed a fast and furious opening victory in the CSI5* schedule today at the truly special Miami Beach venue. Second place went to two-time LGCT Champ Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) and Questina who stopped the clock just under 1.5s behind Lopez. Third went to World No15 Gregory Wathelet (BEL) and Egano van het Slogenhof who finished a nail-biting 0.06s behind Tops-Alexander.
Sunbathers and paddlers enjoying the spectacular weather and warm seas were lured over to watch world-class riders take to the competition arena just metres from their loungers. One of the greatest and most popular course designers in the world, Italy's Uliano Vezzani, set a fair and welcoming course for the very first CSI5* class of the inaugural Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach event which finished with 12 double clears.
Many riders in hot form were introducing their Grand Prix horses to the arena for the very first time. All eyes were on defending Champ Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Sanctos who jumped round clean with just two time faults. Other big names to watch out for are McLain Ward (USA), Beezie Madden (USA), Daniel Deusser (GER) and Michael Whitaker (GBR), who all looked to be pumped up for a top performance in Saturday afternoon's Grand Prix.
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