A whirlwind of good fortune has surrounded Luiz Francisco de Azevedo lately. Last Saturday evening, he showed the world what he already knew—that he has an unbelievably talented partner in the 10-year-old KWPN stallion Comic (Verdi x Ursel W), a horse that he’s brought along for the last four years.
The 31-year-old professional from Brazil rode two clear rounds in the biggest class thus far of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida on Saturday, February 10, 2017, the $380,000 Fidelity Investments CSI5* Grand Prix. He placed 2nd behind Kent Farrington and ahead of many giants of the sport, and was embraced by his father—who is also his coach—as he stepped off the podium, champagne in hand.
Azevedo is spending his first full season competing in Wellington, and it’s been a family affair of celebrations lately. He and his wife Nathalia welcomed their first child, Luiz Francisco de Azevedo Jr., just three weeks ago.
“It’s been something unbelievable here,” Azevedo says on a quiet Tuesday morning in Florida. “It has been nice for everyone in my family to be here, and now, with my son, especially. If everything is going well, we want to try to stay to compete in North America this year.”
Azevedo was born into a family of show jumpers; his father Luiz Felipe Azevedo is an Olympic bronze medalist from the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. And his brother Luiz Felipe de Azevedo Filho, older than him by a decade, has represented Brazil in competition, and continues to ride and train.
“I’m really lucky to have two people in my family who are really successful, and have a chance to grow up between them,” Azevedo says. When he started riding, he had his family members to look up to, and has never thought of doing anything else in life but ride.
He was born in Brazil, but has spent much of his life training and living near Liege, Belgium, where the family’s Centro Equestre de Luiz Felipe de Azevedo is based. It was in Holland that he first spotted Comic as a strong 6-year-old, and immediately he knew that he was looking at something special.
“As a six year old he was one meter over the fences. He was too strong for the Spanish rider who had him at the time, so it became possible to buy him,” Azevedo explains. “He was always a little bit strong, not so easy to ride, but he was also not so difficult. He was just a little bit wild, and we had to concentrate that energy in a good way. And now I have for sure the best horse I’ve ever had in my life.”
Azevedo is not light on international experience, but he’s looking at the future with Comic with renewed energy. A veteran of the 2012 FEI World Cup Jumping Final with Special, Azevedo was selected to represent Brazil in the 2012 London Olympics. But shortly before the Games, Special was injured and Azevedo was forced to drop out of contention.
Since then Azevedo has built up his string with regular competition at the CSI2* and 3* level in Europe. In 2014, he made his first trip to Wellington, but did not have the horsepower to have a presence in the bigger classes.
Obviously, this season is much different. Comic, who came with that name and goes by it in the barn, lives up to the moniker with his friendly, puppy dog personality. Next up for Comic and Azevedo is representing Brazil in the $150,000 CSIO4* Nations Cup at WEF, and beyond that, Azevedo hopes for a long and successful future with his partner.
“I’m really sure that this horse is something special and different,” he says. “He is always trying to do his best and now he’s proven that he’s a really good horse!”