Just Florida Things: Longines Global Champions Tour 2017, Miami Beach, FL
A year ago, I happened across an article about an inaugural horse show on the beach in Miami. That’s pretty cool, I thought. Since it had already passed in 2016, but appeared to be a now-recurring tour, I made a note in my to-do list app and promptly forgot about it. Fast forward to January and my reminder popped up. I looked it up online. The website said they were coming back to Miami Beach, but did not confirm if it was in the exact same place yet. “Want to go?” I asked Justin. “Sure,” he said. We gambled and booked the least expensive ocean-view hotel behind where the venue was in 2016. It was a good sign that the hotel was already almost sold out.
A few months later, we were on our way, our gamble having paid off. Of course, we still had to get there, which, our first and only time driving through Miami told us would be an adventure in itself! And it was – albeit, much less stressful than last time due to careful route-planning by yours truly, The Navigator. Granted, our bypass of the dreaded six-lane-expressway-of-near-death added another hour to our drive, but it was an hour that allowed us to see the entirety of the island-peninsula, admiring the high-rises and rich-people houses, and noting a surprising amount of new construction going on.
Finally, we arrived at our hotel. Our first observation was actually the answer to a question we had been debating: “where do they stable the horses?” The answer: in the parking lot! The temporary stabling was set up in the parking lot next to our hotel! So, we pulled into the roundabout and I went inside to ask where we should park. According to the hotel…”we don’t provide parking for our guests” – as in ever, not just today! Every time we travel there always seems to be a new twist! Alas, our driving adventure was not yet over as we still had to wrestle downtown Miami traffic and construction detours to get to a parking garage 6 blocks away. We nearly cried tears of joy when we finally found a parking spot!
The trek was not over yet, though. As mentioned, we still had 6 blocks to go! This part really wasn’t so bad, even though we ended up leaving half of what we packed so we could make it in one trip. That is, until my makeshift suitcase wheel repair failed about one block in. It's almost like we set ourselves up for these stories... Helpful and loving man that he is, Justin carried it for me the rest of the way. At long last, we made it back to the hotel, asked for the highest room available, took a slightly shady, padded elevator up, walked into our room, turned the corner, and were rewarded with this:
From this point on, we had a fantastic weekend. Everything we wanted to do was walkable from our well-chosen hotel – the food, the beach, the show. Every meal we found by wandering down the strip. We took long walks on the beach and the promenade running alongside. The weather was beautiful and breezy enough to keep it from being too hot, the waves and water were spectacular. And, of course, the reason we were there…. The show was novel and exciting.
We could see the stabling, the warm up, and the leaderboard all from our balcony. On Friday, we immediately wandered out to watch and before even getting to the arena, we stumbled upon Scott Brash walking back to the stables! Well, Hello sir! The warm up, while riveting to watch, I imagine would have been downright terrifying to ride in. So many horses, tight quarters, and throw in a couple of jumps, too!
Saturday was the day of the Grand Prix. Technically, there were 2, with prize money over 300k€ each. We were able to watch the bulk of the show from the grand stand (alas, we did not have the money for VIP – as they say, if you have to ask how much it is, you can’t afford it). During the break before the 2nd half of the show and jump off, we gratefully took a brief respite in our cool hotel room, but by the time we returned, our only option for viewing was to stand by the ocean. This actually ended up working out well, as we were right by a line of jumps and the breeze off the ocean relieved us far better than my fan did in the bleachers! Just before the jump off, the person standing in front of me wandered away and I was able to get right up to the fence and Justin, being a full head taller than I, got a pretty good view, too! And what a jump off! 4 horses made it clear (Miami-native Margie Engle was just out of the jump off, but overall 5th as the fastest 4-faulter). There were really only 2 spots for them to make up time – an incredibly tight roll back to a triple combination and a loooooooonnnnnnnngggggg gallop to the last fence. One horse frighteningly stumbled off the rollback fence, unseating and almost unloading his rider. The rider recovered incredibly and almost dared to continue to the triple combination, but smartly took the safer, unfortunately costly decision to circle first. I’m sure 4th place is still a sizable piece of the pie, though. In the end, Jérôme Guery and his blue-eyed horse Grand Cru Van de Rozenburg bested the field and took home the 1st place check for 100k€. And, we got this really fabulous shot of his victory lap:
After the Grand Prix, we were veritably exhausted. We spent our last night eating pizza on our balcony and alternating staring at the ocean and watching the show teardown. Sunday morning, we ate breakfast there, too, watching mega trailer after mega trailer navigate the tight Miami confines to pull in, gobble up a large # of horses and pull out only to be replaced by another. It was comforting to see that even some of the world’s most expensive and talented horses sometimes have trouble loading! One even managed to free himself and leap back off the trailer; luckily, the horse didn’t have a chance to get out on the street or beach and was promptly shoved back on.
Following another 6 block hike – on the beach-side promenade this time instead of the street-side – we were welcomed by the sight of our intact car right where we left it. And, we were on our way home, a whirlwind weekend of horses, fun in the sun, and much needed time together behind us. Thankfully, leaving Miami on a Sunday morning was a lot less stressful than coming in on a Friday afternoon...
Have you been to this or another of the Longines Global Champions Tour shows? Have you travelled somewhere to attend a specific event? Tell us in the comments!
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Our Favorite Photos From The Trip:
Top Tips & Notes For Next Time: