There are victory gallops and then there are victory gallops. On Saturday, April 15, 2017, the spectators that packed the grandstand and lined the beachside wall of the Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach were gifted with two unforgettable performances by Belgium’s Jérôme Guéry and the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding Grand Cru van de Rozenberg (Malito de Reve x Heartbreaker).
Not only did the two produce the fastest time in the jump off to win the €300,000 Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix CSI5* of Miami Beach, they went a step further in the lap of honor, going into flat out gallop to thrill the crowd with an electrifying victory lap.
Alberto Zorzi and Cornetto K placed 2nd for Italy, and Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts was 3rd with Chilli Willi.
It was a sentimental win for Guéry, who captured his first ever LGCT Grand Prix aboard a horse that he co-owns with a close friend, and that was only thought to be a 1.20/1.30m when he was purchased.
“The horse is very sensitive, and he needs to have a confident rider to give what he needs every day and every show.” Guéry said of his partner. “He’s an amazing horse and we are a couple now. If you aren’t in complete fusion with your horse you can’t make a result like today.”
Having the turquoise Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop might’ve made the experience a little bit sweeter for Guéry, who is based in Belgium.
“The Global is the biggest show in the world, and the best riders and horses are here,” Guéry commented. “To have a big victory like today is special. Every rider wants one time in his life a big victory like today and I did it! I’m so happy.”
To qualify for the grand prix, riders first had to compete in the Global Champions League CSI5* that took place just prior. It was both a team and individual competition that was split into two groups. The overall rider with the fastest clear round finished 1st in the individual, and the team that averaged the least amount of faults during both rounds of the League competition earned 1st place in the team event. Read more about the results of that class at this link.
The top 25 riders from that 1.55m CSI5* class then moved on to the LGCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach, the feature event of the three-day competition. Although he is a member of the St. Tropez Pirates GCL team, Guéry rode as an individual on the final day, and his clear round in the 1.55m landed him a coveted spot in the grand prix.
The 13 obstacle, 1.60 course designed by Italy’s Uliano Vezzani saw four of the original 25 riders make it without fault to the jump off. The course (and every course over the week) was noticeably without a triple bar, though that didn’t hinder its level of difficulty. The first clear in the opening round was produced by the 11th rider in the order, Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts and the 9 year-old Holsteiner stallion Chilli Willi (Casall x Lord).
As 18th in the order of go, Alberto Zorzi of Italy solidified a jump off with the second clear round in the class, followed by Harrie Smolders of The Netherlands and lastly, Guéry. The USA’s Kent Farrington was last to go in the order aboard Creedance, the 10 year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Lord Z x Notaris) that he had just ridden to 1st place in the grand prix qualifying round. But. the duo collected a surprising number of faults in the grand prix, with Farrington retiring to save his horse for another day.
Back for the jumpoff, Philippaerts was first to go and set the time to beat at 39.50 with his clear round.
“In the first round I had one down, and I had to go first and so I thought it was very important for me to keep clear,” said Philippaerts. “The horse jumped very good last week and this week again. He’s still quite young and he did two rounds.”
As jump offs so often go, Philippaerts was quickly displaced from the leading spot when Zorzi produced a quicker time in 37.96 with the 11 year old Hanoverian gelding Cornetto K (Cornet Obolensky x Calido).
“Cornetto is an amazing horse and I want to say thank you to Jan for giving me this super opportunity,” said Zorzi. “Thank you all my staff. He jumped three rounds very good and I am so happy. “
Smolders was next in the order with the 13 year old Belgian Warmblood stallion Emerald N.O.P (Diamant de Semilly x Carthago Z). He was well in the lead but suffered a dramatic slip in a left rollback turn to a double combination. Emerald’s hind legs went out from underneath him, and he nearly displaced Smolders from the saddle. Smolders stayed upright for an incredible save, and after a circle, he he was able to collect himself and finish the round with 8 faults, to finish an eventual 4th.
Guéry was last to go and pulled off a faultless round in 37.39 seconds. As he looked up at the scoreboard to confirm his win, he pulled his helmet off in celebration and galloped along the ocean side of the arena in celebration. In just two years, the horse that co-owner Alexandru Oancea brought to Guéry as a sales prospect has turned into his Rio Olympic partner, his top five-star mount, and now, his winning LGCT grand prix horse.
Oancea, who traveled to Miami to watch his horse perform, was beside himself when Guéry and Grand Cru galloped down to the final, Longines vertical in the jumpoff. When they cleared it, he vaulted over the kiss and cry wall and bounded over to Guéry and Grand Cru to give his friend a high five.
“It was difficult today because you have the best riders and the best horses, but my horse today was amazing,” said Guéry. “He jumped the qualification clear and in the grand prix he was clear in the first round. In the jump off I was the last to go for the and I saw the other riders go crazy fast. I tried to go a little bit faster, and my horse listened to me perfectly and it was a great day for me.”
For the full results, visit this link