Harrie Smolders claimed the title in the opening CSI5* class of the Longines Global Champions Tour Miami Beach on Thursday, April 13, 2017. The Dutch rider was at the reins of Zinius, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding (Nabab de Reve x Kannan) that is owned by his sponsor Axel Verlooy/Eurohorse.
A start list of 55 pairs in this two-speed, €25,200 1.45m competition meant that some horses were in it to gun for the win, while others tacked up their top mounts for a slow and steady familiarization round. Uliano Vezzani crafted an interesting option for those riding for prize money; after the last fence of phase one—an oxer out of a double combination, a sharp rollback turn in front of a Longines vertical was possible to get to the next fence. Only a handful of riders attempted that move, and if they were clear it paid off with time fractions saved.
Just sixteen pairs left the arena on a clear score, with Smolders and 2nd placed finisher Nicola Philippaerts breaking the 25 second mark in the second phase. Philippaerts was aboard Urstina Sitte, a 13-year-old Belgian bred mare with lines to his father Ludo Philippaerts’ legendary mount Parco (Clinton x Parco).
In 3rd place was Smolders’ stablemate Jos Verlooy, who rode Napa Valley, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Nintender x Pit) to a quick time just over the 26 second mark. Leopold van Asten and VDL Groep Miss Untouchable were 4th for The Netherlands, and Bassem Mohammed filled out the top five with Argelith Squid for Qatar.
With much more to come from LGCT Miami Beach this week, this class was merely a warmup for the action ahead under sunny skies on the stunning South Beach of Miami, Florida, USA.
See the complete class result list here.