Shane Breen and Michael Duffy reign supreme in Miami
After a thrilling afternoon of action under the Florida sun, the Miami Celtics home team team of British-based Irishmen Shane Breen and Michael Duffy reigned supreme after starting the day in fourth position in the Global Champions League.
They produced one of only two double clears to sweep into the lead in front of full grandstands as spectators packed deep along the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean.
There was huge anticipation for the third leg of the intensely competitive GCL team series. The winning team fielded an unchanged set of horses and riders, with Shane and Ipswich Van De Wolfsakker once again acting as pathfinders for the Miami Celtics. The 11-year-old gelding pulled out all the stops, leaping cleanly over Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani’s track. Ipswich did not touch a fence in either round of the GCL team competition.
It took 13 horses before a clear round appeared over the testing course, with the majority of faults occurring at the innocuous looking NetJets upright mid-way through the course.
The Miami Celtics’ second rider Michael set off at a blistering pace on the 10-year-old Quintano 35 — the equal youngest of the team horses — only steadying to make sure his horse had plenty of space to see and clear the tricky, technical combinations. His tactics paid off, and the second fault-free round saw the Miami Celtics zoom to the stop of the leaderboard, where they remained on a final score of six penalties.
“A win is a win; any way it’s great, but to do it at home — especially in front of Monica [McCourt, the team owner] — is nice,” said Michael. “It’s great to be in this position to be able to showcase yourself.”
Monica added: “I am so proud of these boys. They are spectacular under pressure. To win in Miami, which is our hometown, means so much. I will never forget today.”
The Miami Celtics bounced up the leaderboard to stand third om 59 points but are still 20 points behind the leading Shanghai Swans with the St Tropez Pirates in second on 60 points after the third leg.
Scott Brash posted a first round clear to access the jump-off of the Longines GCT grand prix of Miami Beach with Hello Mr President. Eight of 32 went into round two with Scott bidding to win his 12 th LGCT grand prix win, but it was not to be as the first element of the combination and the back bar of the final fence fell to put them on eight and into seventh spot.
Belgium’s Pieter Devos claimed the win with a flyer to the last on Claire Z. Last-to-go Harrie Smolders chased hard with the scopey stallion Don VHP Z and he was in contention but added a stride to the penultimate fence and it cost them dear as they crossed the line 0.04 sec in arrears for second.
“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,” said Harrie.
Pieter had struggled to contain the exuberant Claire Z’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 jumped amazing in the last 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,” he said.
Text © Jumping Around & Photo © LGCT/Stefano Grasso