Global Champions Tour Miami: The secrets behind show jumping's gem

The Longines Global Champions Tour came to Miami and built a stadium by the beach

Posted: Apr 26, 2019 11:00 AM
Updated: Apr 26, 2019 11:00 AM

Miami Beach is known for lots of things -- its turquoise ocean, its sun-soaked climate, its spectacular, beckoning sand.

But once a year it also hosts top-level showjumping when the Longines Global Champions Tour rides into town.

And right on the beach, yards from the lapping water, a temporary arena showcases the best riders and horses in the sport.

The unique stadium features 2,000 tons of bespoke sand, which is mixed with special fibers and laid about 12 centimeters (five inches) deep on a hard base to provide optimum conditions for the athletes to excel.

"It's one of the most difficult competitions in terms of organization and logistics because we have to build everything on top of the existing sand on the beach," said LGCT sports director Marco Danese.

READ: Devos triumphs in eight-rider jump-off in Miami

The unrivaled waterside backdrop brings in about 12,000 spectators over the course of three days of competition, featuring the Global Champions League team event and the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix stop.

In order to grow the popularity of show jumping, entry is free, both in the grandstand and for bikini-clad beachgoers to watch from the ocean side.

"It's nice to see people not familiar with our sport stopping here and being really surprised to see the best horses and best riders in the world. It is something special and unique," adds Danese.

READ: Global Champions 2019: Schedule and results

'Super feeling'

Setting up the event is a team effort involving 30 local businesses. The stadium takes about 10 days to build, while 3,500 bales of shavings, 10 tons of hay and 13 tons of horse feed are also required.

This year's GCT event was won by Pieter Devos -- his first victory since 2014 -- on 11-year-old Belgian horse Claire Z.

Belgium's Devos triumphed at the end of an eight-rider jump-off, finishing just 0.04 seconds quicker than former LGCT overall winner Harrie Smolders.

Among those in the star-studded crowd was rock icon Bruce Springsteen and his wife Patti and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, watching their daughters Jessica Springsteen and Jennifer Gates competing.

"It gives me a super feeling to enter the arena and see the sea," Devos told the Global Champions Tour website. "It's the best of the world here and that's why I am so happy with my mare. I am so lucky."

The Miami Celtics team of Irish duo Michael Duffy and Shane Breen produced a double clear on Saturday to win the GCL event.

Jan Tops, the 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."

Visit CNN.com/Sport for more news, features and video

The Global Champions Tour, show jumping's richest circuit, consists of a record 20 stops in 2019, including new venues in New York, Montreal and Stockholm.

The season will finish with the GC Prague Playoffs November 21-24.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1962225

Reported Deaths: 51204
CountyCasesDeaths
Kings2593439882
Queens2589849503
Suffolk1904633298
Nassau1746733095
Bronx1723656353
New York1297814289
Westchester1240922234
Erie795801681
Richmond694401737
Monroe595391030
Orange45320782
Rockland45148935
Onondaga35415659
Dutchess27449430
Albany23323342
Oneida21214497
Niagara17712332
Broome17098348
Saratoga14122159
Ulster12755241
Schenectady12228190
Rensselaer10465135
Putnam1002391
Chautauqua8205132
Chemung7033133
Oswego685790
Ontario672091
Steuben6169141
St. Lawrence611394
Sullivan595868
Cayuga577890
Jefferson538163
Wayne511967
Cattaraugus501580
Genesee4996121
Herkimer4856107
Clinton444132
Madison423185
Tompkins400049
Fulton396186
Livingston392658
Montgomery3802114
Columbia379399
Cortland350260
Warren331455
Tioga330458
Wyoming319851
Allegany312983
Otsego310246
Greene306674
Chenango300773
Washington279555
Orleans269783
Lewis240833
Franklin236512
Delaware210336
Seneca184356
Schoharie149815
Essex148326
Yates109126
Schuyler97513
Hamilton2962
Unassigned16389
Out of NY0215
Rome
Partly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 41°
Binghamton
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 46°
Rome
Partly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 41°
Rome
Partly Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 41°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Enter the Rock Your Body Giveaway from Alivana Aesthetics
Looking for work or looking to hire? Check out the WKTV Job Fair!