World No 1 and reigning Longines Global Champions Tour Champion Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Forever, won the first feature class of LGCT Miami, the historic American Invitational. Following a thrilling jump-off, Scott, who recently joined the list of Connolly’s RED MILLS Ambassadors, 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 second and third, respectively.
Each horse in Scott Brash’s string, including gold medallist Hello Santos, have had a tailored nutritional plan designed for their individual performance requirements by RED MILLS nutritionist Nia O’Malley and Connolly’s RED MILLS are the Official Feed Supplier to LGCT Miami and also for LGCT Shanghai later this year.
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 Saturday’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 two seconds 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 on Saturday, the opening Longines GCT Grand Prix of the season. Watch the Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach Grand Prix live on www.globalchampionstour.com via GCT TV, see highlights on NBC Sports Network Sunday, 5 April 3.30pm – 4.30pm (EST) or on Eurosport on Sunday at 8pm (CET).
For more information on Connolly’s RED MILLS products visit www.redmills.com.
Photos: Stefano Grasso/LGCT