LGCT Miami Beach: Pieter Devos Crowned King of Grand Prix in Miami
Belgian rider Pieter Devos was crowned the king of the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Miami Beach, winning on the spectacular bay mare Claire Z after a nail-biting eight-way jump-off from the 32 starters.
Pieter’s supreme jumping display means he is now the LGCT series leader. Delighted, he spoke of the thrilling competition, featuring an A-list line up of the world’s best athletes:
It’s the highest level sport here and the feeling I get is always the best. I am very happy to come back here; it gives me a super feeling to enter the arena and see the sea. It’s the best of the world here and that’s why I am so happy with my mare. I am so lucky.”
The showcase class was watched by packed crowds on all sides, including Bruce and Patti Springsteen and Bill and Melinda Gates, as well as bikini-clad beachgoers and enthusiastic local spectators, all just a stone’s throw from the glistening turquoise Atlantic Ocean.
Speaking about the spectacular venue, Jan Tops, Founder and President of LGCT said:
It is important for LGCT to be in the American market. America is a great horse nation. This is such a vibrant place. This is what the Tour is about, each week it is different. If you win the circuit you are an all round Champion.”
As the sixth rider to tackle Uliano Vezzani’s testing and twisting jump-off course, Pieter’s mare was quick over the ground and fast in the air, skimming over the fences without wasting a second. Three combinations managed double clears in this class, with second-placed Harrie Smolders (NED) putting in a thrilling round on the 15-year-old stallion Don VHP Z NOP, but finishing just 0.04 seconds adrift of Pieter. Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson finished third, putting in a smooth but slower clear on H&M Indiana.
It was great sport today and I am so happy with how my mare jumped; she’s jumped everything clear this week,”
said the 33-year-old Pieter, who had logged two top five finishes in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Miami Beach in previous years.
This is a super show and I gave everything in the jump-off but I didn’t take all the risk as I knew Harrie was a really fast candidate after me and I was a bit worried about that.”
Uliano Vezzani’s course was a long and technical track, with tight turns and fences coming up fast with no room for error. Faults were found all round the course. The course included a JustWorld International vertical, which was a charity initiative in partnership with Longines. Every time it was cleared, Longines donated 200 meals to JustWorld, which provides nutritional programs for children in need around the world.
Pieter had struggle to contain the exuberant mare’s enthusiasm, but has solidly clicked with her just recently, including logging a five-star class win at the previous show in LGCT Mexico City.
She’s jumping amazing since two weeks and in two completely different venues, both in the big grass arena in Mexico and here on the sand. She’s only 11 and she has a lot of energy; there’s more to come now that I am able to understand her and keep her quiet until the end of the course. I’m really looking forward to the future with her.”
Pieter’s supreme jumping display in Miami Beach means he is now the series leader, taking over from his compatriot Niels Bruynseels.
Being series leader gives you a good feeling,”
I’m in the lead, which means I was consistent, but tomorrow I’ll have my feet on the ground again. It’s top sport so it’s not the same every week, but I am in a good flow at the moment.”
Harrie Smolders, who came tantalisingly close to the top step of the podium, said:
I knew I was fast at the beginning, but then I felt him get a little flat so I made an extra stride into the second last fence. It was a shame, but I can only blame myself that I didn’t catch the time because Don was again amazing. I’m not sure I will ever have a better horse than him again.”
Harrie adds yet another podium spot to his third-place in the LGCT Grand Prix Mexico City, proving the consistency of this talented horse.
Malin stepped on to the LGCT podium for the first time this season on another talented mare.
She’s truly amazing,” enthused Malin of the 11-year-old. “We only started jumping at this level at the beginning of last year. She’s getting better and better with every round and it gives me great confidence. I’m so happy to have a one-of-a-kind horse like Indiana.”
The LGCT Championship now looks to Shanghai for the fourth leg of the Championship race.
For full results, please click here.