Miami Beach, Fla.—April 20
For a while there it didn’t look like there would be any clear rounds in the jump-off for the Longines GCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach.
Last year’s winners California and Edwina Tops-Alexander ticked a rail, and a super sliced turn prompted H&M Extra to put on the brakes to the last fence with Olivier Philippaerts. The next three riders pulled two rails apiece with three left to go.
One could understand if the next rider would elect to put in a careful round after so many riders struggled, but not Pieter Devos. Fresh off a class win in Mexico City with his partner Claire Z he put his foot on the gas and managed a bold clear round. The next two riders stayed clear as they navigated the course, but no one could catch Devos and the 11-year-old Zangersheide (Clearway—Colessa Z, Coronado).
“I’m super happy with the performance of my horse,” said the Belgian. “She’s jumping amazing [for the last] two weeks in two completely different venues: a big grass arena and here on the sand. I’m very, very happy with her. I think there’ s more to come with her because she’s only 11 years old. Only now can I start to go fast with her. I’m very, very happy.”
Harrie Smolders and Don VHP Z N.O.P. nearly caught Devos but he took a tug to the last that cost him the .04 seconds he needed to match Devos’ time.
“I knew I was close [to Devos’ time] because I was fast at the beginning, and left one out from [fence] one to two and the next turn also,” said Smolders. “I felt him get a little flat so I made an extra [stride] before the last fence, and I knew it would be very close but it’s a shame. I can only blame myself that I didn’t catch the time because Don was amazing.”
Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Indiana had to settle for third, but the Swede wasn’t disappointed.
“I am super happy with my mare today,” said Baryard-Johnsson. “She’s truly amazing. She did her first year last year jumping big and we made it to the [FEI World Equestrian Games (North Carolina)] where we ended up with a silver medal for the team. This season I think she’s turning into an even better horse. She’s really competitive and she showed that today. She was really amazing.”
This win puts Devos in the lead in the Global Champions Tour series after three events.
“It gives you a good feeling that I’m in the lead, I’ve been quite consistent in the first three legs,” he said. “There is still a lot more to come. Tomorrow will begin again with our feet on the ground. [GCT] Shanghai is the next show and we know the sport is tough sport and not every week is the same. But it’s good; I’m in a good flow and I hope I can still be in the lead for a few more weeks.”
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