Miami Beach, Fla.—April 8
Daniel Deusser wasn’t sure how the jump-off of the $130,000 American Invitational was going to work out for him. “It was a big jump-off. I actually didn’t have the fastest horse, so I was a little bit nervous going in,” Deusser said.
Out of a starting field of 49, there were 14 horses qualified for the jump-off. “I thought I had to do something special to win. At the end, I was also a little bit lucky. A few were faster and had one down, and I won, so I’m really happy about that,” Deusser said.
The 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Clinton—Carlina V/D Kiekenhoef Z, Calvaro Z) may not have been the quickest across the ground, but the gelding made up the majority of his time with his stylish turn back to the penultimate fence, the Longines vertical.
“The horse has been jumping great for a couple of weeks now,” Deuser said. “He’s been jumping a lot of clear rounds. Today, he showed he was ready [to step up].”
It was the American Invitational only in nomenclature, as Germany’s Deusser topped a large jump-off field of 14 to claim the $130,000 American Invitational, held as part of the schedule of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach, with Stephex Stables and Kent Farrington’s Clintop.
It truly was an international affair, with riders from eight different nations represented in the jump-off alone, but Deusser and Clintop, one of three German jump-off participants, bested Switzerland’s Romain Duguet and Quorida de Treho by two-tenths of a second to win the class with a final time of 38.02 seconds. Belgium’s Nicola Philappaerts and Zilverstar T rounded out the top three.
Clear first rounds were aplenty in the 50-competitor class, but rails started to fall in the jump-off as the riders began to pick up the pace. The first four to jump off—Audrey Coulter, Kevin Staut, Hans-Dieter Dreher and Jos Verlooy—all had rails. Kent Farrington and Creedence, who ended up in sixth as the top-placing American pair, scorched around the shortened course but knocked a rail at the final fence. Fellow U.S. pair Richard Spooner and Cristallo had the same heartbreaking rail at the last to take seventh. Christian Ahlmann, the No. 2 rider in the Longines FEI World Rankings, was the only rider outside the top three to navigate the jump-off without fault.
“When we walked the first round, I thought it was a very good, difficult class,” Deusser said. “At the end, the horses jumped really nice. The conditions were very good, so there were 14 clear rounds. But in the jump-off, there were more faults than expected at the end. When I went into the jump-off, I really tried to have a fast round, but I had in the back of my mind also the idea to go clear, because a lot of people before me had rails down.”
Deusser details his jump-off with Clintop.
A Man’s Horse
In a stable full of top show jumpers, Clintop proved to be an ideal choice for Deusser to bring to Miami, especially after his top horse Cornet d’Amour jumped to third in the Longines FEI World Cup Finals in Goteborg (Sweden) just two weeks ago. Deusser has had the mount for almost a year; he acquired the gelding from American rider Paige Johnson last June and has since had top placings at Helsinki (France) and Paris.
“For [Johnson], the horse was just a little bit slow,” Deusser said. “He’s not really a girl’s horse, to be honest. He’s just a little bit slow and a heavier type, but he has a good heart and wants to jump a lot of clear rounds. She decided last year to give the horse to me, and recently, she swapped him with another horse, so he is now owned by Stephex Stables and Kent together.
“I started him in a few smaller classes at the 1.45-meter level last year, but in the indoor season, it really clicked with him, and he jumped a few big classes,” he continued. “He was second in a grand prix in Helsinki already. To win a nice class with him is a really nice feeling.”
Daniel Deusser on Clintop. Photo by Molly Sorge
It was also the second straight year a European won the Invitational (Scott Brash won last year with Hello Forever), a class that used to have limited European participants based on its traditional qualification process, in which the top 30 riders from the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit (Fla.) were invited to compete. But when the GCT created its Miami Beach stop, the Invitational joined on and moved surfside, and that opened the door for any five-star riders invited to the event the chance to participate in the historic class.
Historically held in a major league football stadium, the Invitational has certainly undergone a transformation. It was held at Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for 41 years before switching teams and going to Sun Life Stadium, where the Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes play, for one year in 2014. Now, the class welcomes top tier international riders as well as the many fans that packed the stands and lined up ringside in sun-drenched bikinis and swim trunks to catch a glimpse of the competition.
“The atmosphere is really nice, especially because the people on the beach can come and watch. It’s an unbelievable venue, especially for us Europeans,” Deusser said. “We come from the cold. To combine holiday conditions like that with our job is really something special.”
Will And Mic Mac Du Tillard Top The Speed
The first CSI***** event of the day, a 1.45-/1.50-meter speed class, went to the well-established partnership of German rider David Will and Mic Mac du Tillard. Will and the 16-year-old Selle Francais mare (Cruising—Quanagra, Galobet A) crossed the timers in 51.43 seconds. Pius Schwizer and Balou Rubin R (52.84 seconds) were second, and Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano and Guess 6 (53.14) finished third.
Here’s what Will had to say about his ride:
You can find full results of the $130,000 American Invitational here. The Chronicle will be back on the scene tomorrow for the $500,000 Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Miami Beach and on Sunday for the inaugural Global Champions League team event. Check back at coth.com for recaps of the classes.
Want to learn more about what GCT Miami is all about? Take our video tour of the class.
For more in-depth coverage from GCT Miami, check out the April 25 issue of the Chronicle.