Seven days ago, Lorenzo de Luca and his horse were in an entirely different country, in exactly the same winning form. One plane ride and one week later, the Italian rider showed that no matter the setting, his skills—and those of his horse–are simply nonpareil.
From Mexico City to Miami Beach, de Luca marked his second, CSI5* win of the 2017 Longines Global Champions Tour when he won the feature 1.55m competition on Friday, April 14, 2017, day two of LGCT Miami Beach. The Italian rider was equally thrilled about his victory at LGCT Mexico City last Friday, and today in South Beach Miami, he had nothing but praise for Halifax van het Kluizebos.
The 10-year-old BWP stallion (Heartbreaker x Fetiche du Pas) just stepped up to the CSI5* level last year, but he is quickly doing his part to keep De Luca, who is ranked as the World No. 11, thick in winner’s coolers.
“I’ve ridden him for more than two years now,” De Luca said of the Stephex Stables-owned horse. “I really took my time to bring him onto the big level. He deserves to be here, and he showed everyone he deserved it.”
De Luca also deserved the win against a big class and competitive jumpoff. A startlist of over 50 entries took on Uliano Vezzani’s track, and a whopping 19 returned to jumpoff. This wasn’t indicative of a soft challenge but rather, the quality of competitors who are all gearing up for the weekend’s biggest day on Saturday.
A plank vertical came down again and again, but De Luca, who has developed deep confidence in his horse, went on the attack and swept to the fastest clear round.
“He is every time very careful so I can really try every time. He is a super horse,” De Luca said of Halifax. “I don’t really need to worry about the jumps actually. He jumped fantastic last week in Mexico and now here so I am quite confident in him.”
De Luca won the class in the jumpoff on a rollback turn to that plank, and to the second to last vertical. His time of 32.64 seconds was a good margin away from 2nd placed Christian Ahlmann’s 33.83 seconds with Caribis Z. Jessica Springsteen marked the first top three CSI5* finish of an American rider thus far this week by coming in 3rd aboard Davendy S in 34.13 seconds. Nicola Philippaerts and Ustina Sitte were the only others with a double clear score; they placed 4th for Belgium.
The atmosphere picked up on Friday, with strong winds forecast for Saturday, there will be no mistaking the beachside location of this leg of the LGCT. But De Luca noted that “I found yesterday some horses were a little bit spooky, but today actually, even with a little more people, they didn’t care as much. They know now, even with this ambiance this week they are getting easier.”
The LGCT Miami Beach will conclude on Saturday, April 15 with a double header of CSI5* competition. The €270,000 Global Champions League CSI5* Final will begin at 1:15pm local time in a one round, 1.55m/1.60m class that will play out with individual, non GCL riders competing first in the order, followed by GCL riders.
Immediately following at 4:45pm, the €400,000 Longines Global Champions Tour CSI5* Grand Prix of Miami Beach will take place. Note the new format this year; one round with jumpoff rather than two full rounds with jumpoff. The intriguing scenario that was seen for the first time last week at LGCT Mexico City is this: many riders will compete the same horse in the two classes, essentially treating the 1:15pm class as their first round. And the grand prix as their second round. Take a moment to think about the prize money opportunities of that.
Every round will be available to watch from anywhere in the world on GCTtv.