Miami Beach, Fla. – April 16, 2022 – After COVID-19 brought two years of silence to the Miami shoreline, The Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) of Miami Beach made its return to the coastal city April 14th. The scenic venue’s sidelines filled quickly with beachgoers and equine enthusiasts alike to watch the star-studded lineup take the stage once again.The pinnacle of competition was sent off Saturday evening with the second round of the Global Champions League (GCL) 1.55m Grand Prix CSI5*. This team class qualified horse-and-athlete combinations for the weekend’s premiere event that same evening- the LGCT 1.60m Grand Prix of Miami CSI5*. Out of those qualified, 34 pairs elected to return for individual competition against the background of the Atlantic Ocean. Ultimately, it was Germany’s Katrin Eckermann and Cala Mandia to capture the win.
Course designer Uliano Vezzani of Italy set a delicate and technical first round track that would result in 12 horse-and-rider combinations raising their hand to retire early, granting only six pairs the opportunity to face the jump-off. Germany’s Tobias Meyer and Greatest Boy – H were the second to contest the first round, delivering the impressive first clear effort and setting the bar high for the remaining competitors. Eighth in the arena were Shane Sweetnam (IRE) and Alejandro who crossed the timers fault-free, followed by another clear effort from Ben Maher (GBR) and Faltic HB. Darragh Kenny (IRE) and Volnay du Boisdeville as well as Gilles Thomas (BEL) and Luna Van Het Dennehof followed close behind, adding their names to the list of jump-off contenders. Second to last to cross under the LGCT Miami Beach in-gate arch was Eckermann (GER) and Cala Mandia, making the final tally for the jump-off list six at the conclusion of round one.
Vezzani’s shortened jump-off track featured eight fences including one jump that was not featured in the first round course. With opportunities to make tight roll-back turns and some space to gallop in bending lines, the top podium spot was anyones for the taking. Returning first was Meyer and Greatest Boy – H, producing their second clear round of the evening and stopping the Longines timers at 39.40 seconds. Sweetnam and his own Alejandro were next on course, taking over the lead in 35.73 seconds. The third to contest for the golden ticket to the LGCT Playoffs was Maher and Oakingham Stud’s Faltic HB who put in a fast round at 35.63 seconds but picked up 4 faults to keep them out of top contention. Vlcok Show Stables LLC’s Volnay Du Boisdeville and Kenny crossed the timers over a second faster than Sweetnam at 34.63 seconds, but 4 faults on course also kept them out of the running for the win. Thomas and Luna van het Dennehof rode into third place with a clear round time of 36.04 seconds. Tension mounted for Sweetnam as Eckermann took to the arena showing she and Christian Glanemann’s Cala Mandia were a force to be reckoned with. Taking tight turns and covering ground in between fences, the pair jumped a quick and clear round to skyrocket them to the top of the leaderboard in 34.58 seconds, ultimately placing Sweetnam and his 13-year-old Rhenish Warmblood gelding, Alejandro, in second.
Eckerman was partnered with the now 9-year-old Westphalian mare at the age of six with the intention that she will be her first 5* star mount. Their victory in Miami is the pair’s first ever LCGT win together. She is looking forward to the rest of the season and tour with the Shanghai Swans.
Prior to Saturday’s grand prix, the second round of the Global Championships League (GCL) competition took center beach for leg two of the sixteen leg tour. The team portion featured 16 teams that will go head-to-head in November for the GC playoffs in Prague. Taking the win in Miami, the Berlin Eagles galloped to victory with two double clear rounds from German team members, Ludger Beerbaum aboard Mila and Christian Kukuk aboard Mumbai. The reserve team, Madrid in Motion, concluded the two rounds with 2 fault free efforts by Netherlands’ Maikel Van Der Vleuten and Beauville Z and just 4 faults for Spain’s Eduardo Alvarez Aznar partnered with Bently De Sury in the second round. Nina Mallevaey (FR) and Chacco Kid, Zoe Conter (BEL) and Dawa De Greenbay Z, and Shane Breen (IRE) and Z7 Ipswich captured third place honors for the Rome Gladiators picking up 4 faults in rounds one and two.
The much anticipated tour season continues April 28- May 1 in Mexico City, and continues in 14 other picturesque venues across the globe. Locations include Cannes, Paris, Monaco, London, Rome and New York. The season will reach its finale in a new and exciting location of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia before the ultimate showdown November 17-20 in Prague, Czech Republic for the Global Champions Playoff.
LGCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach CSI5*
Place / Horse / Athlete / Country / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Cala Mandia / Katrin Eckermann / GER / 0 | 70.09 / 0 | 34.58
2. Alejandro / Shane Sweetnam / IRE/ 0 | 70.52 / 0 | 35.73
3. Luna van het Dennehof / Gilles Thomas / BEL / 0 | 69.80 / 0 | 36.04
4. Greatest Boy – H / Tobias Meyer / GER / 0 | 71.73 / 0 | 39.40
5. Volnay du Boisdeville / Darragh Kenny / IRE / 0 | 68.13 | 4 |34.63
6. Faltic HB / Ben Maher / GBR / 0 | 70.60 / 4 | 35.63
7. Theodore Manciais / Spencer Smith / USA / 4 | 68.46
8. Beauville Z / Maikel van der Vleuten / NLD / 4 | 70.45
9. Zilton SI Z / Michael Duffy / IRE / 4 | 71.03
10. Bentley de Sury / Eduardo Alvarez Aznar / 4 | 71.46