January 23, 2016–History was made this week as Valle de Bravo hosted the biggest FEI event in Latin America. With 175 horses, 81 international riders and 14 countries represented in this CSI****, the competition reached new heights south of the U.S. border. In the inaugural Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping qualifier, 28 horse and rider combinations galloped through the Longines arch at the entrance to the arena attempting to pass the test course designer Guilherme Jorge set. Ten mastered the first round course and eight went double clean. But it was Uruguay’s Juan Manuel Luzardo who piloted his mount Stan to the win.
The course had technical questions, however the time allowed was not a factor, as it had been in the FEI 1.50m class on Thursday. Jorge explained before the class began, “This is the beginning of the season for many of these horses, even if it is later in the League’s season, so I set a course to FEI standards but didn’t make the time tight. I expect about six will go clean.”
Post the class, he noted that he was pleased that the riders rode his track well and that a larger group than he expected made it to the jump-off. Competitors representing seven countries—USA, Uruguay, Spain., Mexico, Denmark, Argentina and Israel—returned against the clock. First to return, American Audrey Coulter aboard Copernicus Stable’s Alex set a solid pace and took a tight track, clean in 42.47. Although it looked to be a tough time to beat, Luzardo galloped in next and stopped the clock in an amazing 41.85.
Of the eight attempts that followed, six were clean, but none could catch Luzardo’s nor Coulter’s times. Israel’s Simon Nizri aboard E Muze Yek made a gallant effort in 42.52, less than one tenth of a second slower than Coulter, only losing time by adding a stride in a tight rollback turn towars the end of the course.
Going early in the jump-off and taking the lead made Luzardo nervous. He actually didn’t want to watch anyone else go. So he went back in the warm-up area and waited. “Mauricio Guerra, who is like a father to me, came running saying ‘You just won!’”
He went on to say how pleased he was with his 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Stan. “He has come a long way in a short tine. He was injured and had a year off. Just two months after he came back we won a grand prix. He has now been to Spruce Meadows and the Pan American Games.”?
The Mexican Federation’s (FEM) Rafael David Faes spoke for both FEM and the organizers expressing how pleased they are as producers and as a country to host this prestigious event. Having worked with the Valle de Bravo show for the last 12 years, Faes was beaming with pride for all involved. Appreciative of this big undertaking, the response from the competitors regarding Valle de Bravo CSI**** continues to be overwhelmingly positive.
This is just the beginning of an exciting competition year in Mexico, with 17 FEI events on the calendar, including a stop for the Global Champions Tour, CSI***** and the FEI Nations Cup CSIO, Xalapa. Mexican organizers are building up the show calendar exponentially. By offering top events, they know that, in turn, this will help to produce top riders nationally. Competitors from outside Mexico, including Coulter and her trainer Harrie Smolders, who currently sits 20th in the world; Olympic Gold medalist Will Simpson, who after today sits on top of the North American League West Coast Standings; Nayel Nassar of Egypt and American Karl Cook, all came down south to participate in this inaugural show-jumping event.
Valle de Bravo thanks all their sponsors, without their support an event of this caliber would not be possible. Muchas gracias Longines, Scappino, Banorte, Audi, Azimut Yachts, Federacion Ecuestre Mexicana, VISA, Jose Cuervo. Conade, and Estado de Mexico.