The Longines Global Champions Tour arrives in Miami Beach
Equestrian athlete Scott Brash, an Olympic gold medalist, is nothing like his surname suggests.
“I would like to think not,” said Brash, a proper gentleman from the small town of Peebles, Scotland. “I’m a quite quiet person.”
Yet, as low-key and humble as Brash is, he gets upset at any suggestion that his sport — showjumping — is overrun by wealthy blueblood types who are in it just for photo-ops and posh parties.
Fans of the sport include rock royalty, queens of the runway, business tycoons and actual royalty, people such as Bruce Springsteen, Elle McPherson, Bill Gates and Prince Albert II of Monaco.
Among the competitors are Springsteen’s daughter Jessica; heiress to the Rockefeller fortune Ariana Rockefeller and Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of billionaire Michael Bloomberg.
And although there is no denying that you could shoot an episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” this weekend on Miami Beach where the Longines Global Champions Tour and the Global Champions League makes a stop, the riders who compete are dedicated to the sport, Brash said.
Brash, a 31-year-old who comes from humble origins — his father works in construction and his mother is a scuba instructor — scoffs at the notion that these majestic horses are just another plaything for those who are heirs to fortunes.
“It annoys me when people say that,” Brash said. “You don’t have to come from a privileged background to make it in this sport.
“Everyone who is at the top level of this sport is very passionate about showjumping. They are up every morning at 6 a.m. just like we are.”
And while Brash is much more blue collar than he is blueblood, he has become a giant in his sport.
Not only did he win a gold medal in the 2012 London Summer Olympics as part of Great Britain’s team, but also he became the first rider to win showjumping’s Rolex Grand Slam in 2015.
That Grand Slam consists of the sport’s three most prestigious events, in Aachen, German; Geneva, Switzerland; and Calgary, Canada.
“Those are two amazing memories in my life,” Brash said of the Olympics and the Grand Slam. “They are the two pinnacles of my life.”
Brash also won the Longines Miami Beach tour stop in 2015, which was the first time South Florida hosted the event.
Last year, Brash failed to win Miami Beach in part because one of his horses, Hello Forever, got spooked by the ocean setting.
In addition, Hello Sanctos, the horse Brash rode to glory in the Olympics and in the Grand Slam, did not make the trip this year because of a leg injury.
Brash will instead ride two mares this weekend: Hello M’Lady, who won a Grand Prix in Monaco two years ago, and Ursula.
“They are both new to Miami, but I know them really well,” Brash said of his horses. “They won’t be affected by the ocean at all.”
Brash, who has been competing in his sport since age 10, was the No. 1 rider in the world in 2015. He is currently No. 8 and has come a long way from his childhood in Peebles, population 8,159.
Two years ago, he moved to London to make it easier for the world travel that he and his team — including the horses, who are considered the true athletes of the sport — are required to make.
But even though he’s in London, his heart, his parents — and his likeness — are all back in Peebles.
“They made a statue of me and Hello Sanctos in the middle of town,” Brash said proudly. “Peebles is an amazing community.”
If you go
What: Equestrian showjumping
Who: Elite riders and their horses are making the Longines Global Champions Tour their second stop out of 15 cities, a journey that will also include Rome, Paris, London, Madrid, Monaco, Berlin, Cannes, Mexico City, Shanghai and Vienna.
Where: South Beach, Collins Avenue between 21st and 22nd Streets.
When: The finals are Saturday, starting at 8 a.m.
Admission: Free; seats are not reserved and are available on a first-come basis.