Miami Beach—April 7
Three days ago, Edwina Tops-Alexander didn’t think she’d be standing atop the podium center ring at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach after winning the $368,544 Longines GCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach. She didn’t even think she’d be competing.
When she got on California, her grand prix mount for the week, she could feel something wasn’t quite right. The mare wasn’t terribly lame, but something was definitely wrong. So she recruited chiropractor Steve Engle, DVM, to work on the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood (L’Esprit—Olivia, Libero H), as well as other veterinarians, and the rest of her team was working round the clock to get California back to her normal self.
“I didn’t know until 11 today that I was going to ride,” said Tops-Alexander.
“I have an amazing team behind me, and it all paid off in the end,” she continued. “Sometimes we have to be persistent. This morning, my groom [Reesa Pihu] said, ‘Should I pack the trunk already?’ Sometimes you have to believe, and it will work.”
Tops-Alexander outran second-placed Gunder and Bassem Mohammed, who’s also trained by Jan Tops, president of the Longines Global Champions Tour and husband of Tops-Alexander. Darragh Kenny and his partner of six months, Cassini Z, laid down the fastest jump-off time of the day but ticked a heartbreaking rail at the last to drop to third.
Tops-Alexander competed California in an earlier class today that served as both a qualifier for this afternoon’s grand prix and the second round of the Global Champions League of Miami Beach, a team competition with classes at each leg of the LGCT. The Prague Lions, represented by Anna Kellnerova on Classic and Gerco Schröder on Glock’s London, topped that competition over Valkenswaard United (Alberto Zorzi with Contaga 3 and Bertram Allen with Gin Chin Van Het Lindenhof).
In the qualifying class Tops-Alexander managed just a single time fault over a track that saw plenty of problems—especially on the clock.
“[Course designer] Uliano Vezzani did an unbelievable job,” said Tops-Alexander, who rides for Australia but is based in the Netherlands. “What was amazing for me is that there were faults everywhere. Sometimes you go to a show, and there’s a tricky fence or a tricky line, but he obviously knows his job and did it well.”
Tops-Alexander went late in the class, having earned that spot by posting a single fault in the qualifying round. Last to go in the jump-off, she was able to stop the clock just faster than Mohammed and his longtime partner to take the prize.
“I didn’t think I was that fast until I looked at the screen,” she said. “I really didn’t believe it.”
Tops-Alexander won this class in 2016 on Lintea Tequila, but she missed it last year as she was on maternity leave. (Moms take note: She won not one, but two five-star grand prix classes while pregnant!)
Her 10-month-old daughter Chloe Tops came to Miami as well, though she’s keeping her mother on her toes.
“I actually have tendonitis from holding my baby,” said Tops-Alexander. “I know, with all the riding I do, that’s the injury I have!”
Catch up with all our coverage of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach, and for more in-depth coverage of the LGCT of Miami Beach check out the April 23 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse.
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