World No. 1 and reigning Longines Global Champions Tour Champion Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Forever won the feature class of the day, the historic American Invitational. Following a thrilling jump-off, Scott set the pace early with his new ride and though they tried their best to catch him Sheikh Ali bin Khalid Al Thani (QAT) and Concordija, and on-form Daniel Deusser (GER) and Pironella had to settle for 2nd and 3rd, respectively.
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine presented the prizes to the winners: “This is absolutely incredible. We are so honoured to have this amazing Longines Global Champions Tour event right on the sands of Miami Beach and we know this is just the beginning of a long-term event. We will welcome you back next year. This is just absolutely exciting for everyone to watch, all the tourists, all the residents and congratulations to Scott. This is fabulous!”
This was the first really testing class of the event ahead of tomorrow’s Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach Grand Prix, as 53 horses took to the ocean-side arena for the 42nd American Invitational. Many of the Florida-based horse and rider combinations had been used to the large open arenas of Wellington, whereas for many who have flown over from Europe, this is their first outdoor event of the season.
As sunbathers gathered in around the unbelievable arena and the sun began to sink on this picture-perfect location this afternoon, some top-class show jumping unfolded on Miami Beach. Uliano Vezzani’s 1.55m first round course began with an inviting spread fence, but the tests came thick and fast from that point onward.
Home pair Schuyler Riley (USA) and Dobra de Porceyo were the first to jump clear, quickly followed by Georgina Bloomberg (USA), Michael Whitaker (GBR), Paige Johnson (USA) and Audrey Coulter (USA). Many top names fell by the wayside, caught out by the sharp corners and testing distances. Towards the end of the first round, Luciana Diniz (POR) and Lady Lindenhof jumped a neat clear following a clean round from Daniel Deusser (GER) and Pironella, and finishing with a great zero score round from a thrilled Sheikh Ali bin Khalid Al Thani (QAT) and Concordija.
Schuyler Riley and Dobra de Porceyo set the standard in the 9-horse jump-off with a clear in 35.46s from first to go, but Scott Brash and Hello Forever swept around the course wiping over 2s off her time. Paige Johnson and Dakota put in a fantastic round to finish just over one second behind Brash, but Germany’s Daniel Deusser and Pironella slotted in between the two in 34.14s. Last to go, Al Thani threw caution to the wind but was unable to catch the World No1 finishing in 33.48s.
The snug arena, crowded on all sides by an enthusiastic crowd, creates an intense atmosphere so it will take a top horse and rider team to win the main event tomorrow afternoon, the opening Longines GCT Grand Prix of the season. Watch the Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach Grand Prix live on globalchampionstour.com via GCT TV, see highlights on NBC Sports Network Sunday 5th April 3.30pm - 4.30pm (EST) or on Eurosport on Sunday at 8pm (CET).
Bob Johnson and Mayor Levine enjoy world-class show jumping from the buzzing VIP Lounge
Stylish guests watched the action from the beautiful VIP Lounge overlooking the ocean as yachts cruised by. Among the guests were billionaire investor and philanthropist Bob Johnson, former owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, whose daughter Paige is competing at the event. Jim McNerney, chairman and CEO of Boeing, was also at the event watching his daughter Hilary compete along with Bruce Springsteen and his family. Mayor Philip Levine declared the event “amazing” and went backstage to congratulate staff and officials for bringing a spectacular Olympic sport to the phenomenal location of Miami Beach.
Watch Miami Beach on NBC Sports Network!
NBC Sports Network will show two hours of coverage from the Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach international show jumping event. The popular U.S. sports channel will show highlights from the American Invitational on Saturday 4th April at from 2pm - 3pm (EST) and highlights from the prestigious Longines GCT Grand Prix, round one of the exciting 2015 Championship, on Sunday 5th April 3.30pm - 4.30pm (EST).
Photo Of the Day
2014 Asian Games Team Gold medallist Sheikh Ali bin Khalid Al Thani (QAT) and Concordija take flight on Miami Beach. (Photo: Stefano Grasso/LGCT)
"The facilities and hotel here are fantastic! The exposure we are getting for the sport is fantastic! There are people watching here who've probably never seen a real horse." ~ Margie Goldstein-Engle - U.S. Showjumping Legend