Six nations were represented in the Sunshine State, which lived up to its moniker by offering up a beautifully clear day, albeit a hot and humid one. In addition to Ireland, Germany, and Brazil in the mix, the USA, Canada, and Mexico were looking for qualifying points to advance to the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup 2018 Finals in Barcelona, Spain, in September.
Designed by Maria Azevedo of Brazil, the course was a tough one and while the time allowed of 75 seconds was achievable, there were a couple of tricky features. These included a water element and a triple combination, which required constant management of the horses by the riders and split-second reorganisation to handle all 12 obstacles and 15 efforts.
Each nation competing sent four riders round the arena twice. The jumpers may have been hungry to improve on their first rounds, but the second round proved equally difficult for nearly everyone.
Only five competitors turned in clear rides in the second round, including double clears by 10-time Olympian Ian Millar on Dixson and Olympic medal winner Eric Lamaze on Coco Bongo. Millar and Lamaze, both of Canada, also had immaculate rides in Round 1.
Team Germany, which had been tied with Canada for the lead midway through the event, dropped significantly in the standings when Christian Heineking encountered trouble at the water and wound up being eliminated for two disobediences.
In the end, no jump off was needed, as the final group of jumpers in Round 2 of the competition determined the podium positions.