As the sun shone down on the packed Miami Beach, the much anticipated Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix got underway. In a page worthy of the history books, Katrin Eckermann and her 10 year old Cala Mandia took the title for the second year in a row and again collected her ticket for the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix.
The LGCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach brought together the best of sport, entertainment, and crowds in a spectacular showcase of equestrian excellence. With the event drawing top riders, celebrities such as Gisele Bündchen and Donna Karen, and enthusiasts from around the world.
In Katrin Eckerman’s LGCT Grand Prix career she has now had a 50% win rate after claiming her third victory. Speaking after today’s win, with tears in her eyes, Katrin said: "What can I say, I did it again and I have no words.. Being here on the beach, with top horse sport I am thrilled. After a tricky start [to the week] for all, with the weather a big thank you to the whole Global Champions team, and to Jan Tops, all conditions were really perfect in the end."
Today was a true spectacle with some of the world's best equestrians delivering awe-inspiring performances. Fans were on the edge of their seats as they watched riders and horses execute the challenging course with skill, precision, and speed.
The competition was fierce, and the audience was treated to a display of the highest level of equestrian sport in one of the most picturesque arenas in the world, making for an unforgettable experience. A true sense of community only felt from world class sport was coupled with Miami Beach’s vibrant culture and unique blend of energy and sophistication, as members of the public flocked to the arena to watch the action unfold.
A technical, careful course was jumped by a start list of 40 riders as the sun bore down on the picturesque Miami Beach and neighbouring Pacific Ocean. A tough yet fair track set by Global Champions’ course builder Ulliano Vezzani saw a few results that shocked many show jumping fans tuning in around the world. Names such as Devos, Baryard-Johnsson, Ahlmann, Ward, Von Eckermann and Farrington failed to qualify for the jump off proving the challenge faced by some of the world’s best.
As the sport began to unfold, Kahled Almoboty stole the show in round one, taking to the arena in his first ever Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix. As sixth out, Almoboty and his relatively new mount in Equine America Spacecake, posted the very first clear round of today’s class aboard.
In a fairytale waiting to happen, David Will, trainer of Almobty was the third rider to join what was set to be a quick jump off. Quickly followed Eduardao Alvarez Aznar, who was still tasting the champagne following yesterday’s GCL win with Madrid In Motion.
Joining Almoboty, Will and Aznar in the 7 person jump off saw Saïd, Eckermann, Goldstein-Engle and the master of faster, Maikel van der Vleuten.
Abdel Saïd and Bonne Amie, Khaled Almobty on Equine America Spacecake and David Will riding My Prins van Dorperheide all had a gut wrenching single pole fall, putting them straight out of contention.
As the first of the clear rounds, Eduardo Alvarez Anzar and Bentley de Sury threw the crowd into cheer with a tight and fast round proving the jump off course extremely jumpable. The duo left the question on everyone’s lips, had he done enough to keep a grasp on the win?
Enter: Katrin Eckermann and Cala Mandia. 2022’s LGCT Miami Beach Grand Prix winners, and 2023 crowd favourites. A small, powerful and careful 10 year old mare who clearly thrives in the electric atmosphere of Miami Beach. Posting a time almost an entire second faster than Aznar and securing first place with just two remaining.
Next saw the only American hope of a podium in the impressive Margie Goldstein-Engle, who, aboard her mount Dicas, pulled off an impressive clear round. Taking the outside turn meant she was just off the podium today, but no less a cheer from the supportive crowd was heard.
Last to go saw Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z N.O.P. take to the sand. Giving everything they had but not quite matching the pace left the paid having to settle for third but enough to storm into the Championship lead on 63 points. Only a single point behind is Malin Bayard-Johnsson and Hans Dieter Dreher sits in third on 54 points heading into Mexico.
After a challenging start to the week with the extreme weather conditions, the Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach was a resounding success, and Global Champions expresses their gratitude to everyone who made it possible. The fans, riders, horses and sponsors all contributed to creating an unforgettable experience. The sixth edition of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach was a testament to the power of sport in bringing people together and creating a sense of community and the whole team is already looking forward to next year's event.