Belgium’s Jérôme Guery will be hoping to build on his victory in Mexico City last weekend when the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) continues in Miami Beach tomorrow.
Guery, riding the in-form 13-year-old stallion Quel Homme De Hus by Quidam De Revel, will be aiming to again shrug off his fellow contenders at the third event of the season.
Great Britain’s Ben Maher, the reigning LCGT champion from 2018, arrives with two Poden Farms-owned rides, the 12-year-old bay mare Madame X and Don Vito.
The latter, an 11-year-old gelding, was second in a Concours de Saut International (CSI) five-star class in Mexico City and his competitive rider will be hoping to improve on that.
Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander is no stranger to the Florida venue, having won the LGCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach in 2016 and 2018.
She returns this year with her winning ride California, a 12-year-old bay mare, who is one to watch in the five-star classes.
Home rider McLain Ward brings his top horse HH Azur, with the 13-year-old Belgian sport firing on all cylinders.
His other ride, the 10-year-old Contagious, is another brimming with talent and has also won already this season.
This is despite his relatively young age.
Action in Miami Beach begun yesterday with the United States' Kristen Vanderveen blistering to victory in the opening CSI five-star class of the Longines GCT event.
Riding Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili, Vanderveen triumphed in 25.32sec over Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani’s track.
"I’m over the moon," said the American, who was drawn late in the class.
"The stallion is so fast, I kept my plan and just tried not to get in his way."
Bull Run’s Faustino De Tili, a 14-year-old by Berlin, responded keenly to his rider and confidently attacked the fences.
However, preparation with the horse had not been perfect.
"I fell off in the competition before this, so I wanted to just have fun and it went better than expected," said Vanderveen, for whom this was an early birthday present as she turns 30 in a week.
"I’m excited to have him here as my speed horse."
Of the 51 starters, 18 posted clear rounds over both phases of the course, with a further two picking up just a single time fault.
Dutch rider Harrie Smolders had to settle for second place from mid-draw.
He gave Zinius, a 15-year-old Nabab De Reve gelding, a smooth ride with tight lines, but they finished 1.26 seconds adrift of the leaders.
The podium was rounded off by the early leader, Qatar’s Bassem Mohammed, who urged a lightning-fast round out of his long-time partner, the grey 13-year-old gelding Argelith Squid, to finish a further 0.09 seconds behind in third.
The St Tropez Pirates were the only team out of 16 to leave all the fences up in the opening class for the Global Champions League (GCL) team competition.
Team riders Pieter Devos of Belgium and Athina Onassis of Greece put a score of three faults on the board between them, with the former logging one of only two clear rounds inside the time from the 32 team starters and the latter clocking just three time faults on MHS Going Global.
They clocked 2 min 36.59sec overall.
Last year’s GCL Miami Beach winners, the Prague Lions, fielded riders Niels Bruynseels of Belgium and the Czech Republic’s Anna Kellnerova, on Gancia De Muze and Catch Me If You Can OLD, respectively, with the team finishing second on five faults in 2:26.83
The in-form Shanghai Swans, who have won both events of the 2019 season so far, are in touching distance, sitting in third, also with five faults, but with a slower combined time of 2:29.57.
The second round is due to take place on Saturday (April 20), with today’s result determining the starting order.