Wellington, Fla.—March 30
Álvaro “Doda” de Miranda couldn’t have had a much better evening than that of the $500,000 FTI Consulting Grand Prix. Not only did he ride AD Rahmannshof’s Bogeno to the top check in the class, his wife Athina Onassis de Miranda took third.
It’s the first time they’ve both had such strong results in the same class. “I think once at the Global Champions Tour in Valkenswaard [the Netherlands] she was sixth, but I was really bad, I wasn’t even placed,” recalled Doda.
The Brazilian tacked up AD Rahmannshof’s Bogeno for the biggest class of the final week of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival, his mount for the London Olympic Games. He took advantage of that Westphalian’s (Baloubet du Rouet—Katinka van de Castershoeve, Elanville) natural speed over a long jump-off.
“My horse is so great, so that makes my job easier,” he said. “Sometimes he’s a little tense in the first round, and then in the jump-off he’s very calm.”
Ben Maher elbowed his way into second place with a clean and clear jump-off with Cella, even though as recently as this morning he wasn’t sure if he would ride. He’s been aching since a fall last week, when a horse he was schooling fell on him. This morning doctors were finally able to pinpoint that he has three fractures in his lower back. His doctor gave him the OK to ride in the evening, as long as he could stand the pain.
“I’ve been [spending time in] a hyperbaric chamber for the last few days—I only found out I had that [injury] today,” said Maher, who’s from Great Britain. “I have a lot of tape on and a back brace and things like that. I just had to adapt my style to a lighter seat, which Cella thought was fun, but I didn’t. She’s unbelievable, she definitely helped me on a couple jumps tonight.”
Maher didn’t dawdle on his way around the short course, but Doda still found a faster way around. Athina, first back for the jump-off, took her time in the short course on Camille Z. to leave all the rails up. Doda credited his and Athina’s success to training with George Morris during their time in Wellington.
Most of the 10 jump-off riders ticked rails as they tried to outrun the leaders. Kent Farrington and Blue Angel came to grief at the laast fence to drop to fourth. Farrington didn’t walk away empty handed though—he claimed a $50,000 check after finishing on top of the FTI Consulting $100,000 Rider Challenge Current Standings.
“I’ve been telling [Chairman of the Board at FTI Consulting] Dennis Shaughnessy that I was going to take his money at some point,” he joked.
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