Longines Global Champions Tour Founder and President Jan Tops spoke of the evolution of show jumping over the ten years of the Tour, and the thought behind the new Global Champions League, speaking of how “every aspect of [the sport]” was considered when creating the new revolutionary team competition.
The pre-event press conference was held at the stunning 1 Hotel, Miami Beach, just a stones throw from the show ground set up on the sands on the Florida shoreline. Jan was joined by former World Number 1 and last year’s LGCT Grand Prix of Miami Beach winner Scott Brash (GBR), Olympic medallist and top American rider Laura Kraut (USA), rising star Jessica Mendoza (GBR) and top US riders Georgina Bloomberg (USA) and Kimberly Prince (USA). Georgina, Scott, Kim and Jessica are joined by Kent Farrington (USA) to form the Global Champions League team Miami Glory.
The event gets underway tomorrow Thursday 7th April, with the Grand Prix taking place on Saturday 9th. The inaugural Global Champions League team competition will debut on Sunday 10th April at 11:30 local time, with the twelve teams in action on the sands of this spectacular first leg of the Championship.
Jan Tops, Founder and President Longines Global Champions Tour: “11 years ago we had the idea to start the Longines Global Champions Tour. We started with six events, and have grown to 15 events in very special locations. We are very diverse on our Tour – competing in big areas, small ones, at day or night, all across the world.
“Over ten years we’ve seen the sport grow and improve; we have to go where other sports have gone and change in the same way. Of course we remember we have a horse and not a car and that we look after the horses so they are not overstretched and still have great sport. We want to make sure that new people have a chance, and of course not forgetting the top sport as well. Our athletes, owners and everyone throughout the year put in so much effort that the reward is important as well. We looked at every aspect of this and that’s how we came up with the concept of the new League. Now we have owners who can choose their own teams, with their own wishes, working on the different strengths of riders.”
Laura Kraut (USA): “It’s fantastic we’re able to be back with an event in Miami Beach, and it’s exciting to have [the Tour] in the United States. There are events all around the world, Shanghai, Monaco, Rome, Vienna… So to add Miami Beach to that list is important for our country and for us as riders.
“Winning an LGCT Grand Prix is one of the most important events you can win. First of all, it’s consistently the most amount of prize money for an event we can compete in. You’re up against the best riders in the world. With 50 riders plus the best horses in the world, you have two rounds and hopefully a jump-off, so to come out victorious on that day is exciting. Show jumping is growing throughout the world, but in the United States, and in North and South America even, it’s growing in leaps and bounds which is very exciting for us. I think the newer generation of competitors in our sport have a lot to look forward to.”
Scott Brash (GBR): “I’m very lucky – along with the young and current generation of riders – it’s a really exciting time to be a part of our sport. Have Mexico City added as a new venue really opens up new audiences for our sport and I think it’s very healthy. To be part of the League and riding with different riders who you’d never thought of riding with is really exciting. It’s a great new format, it’s good to keep updating our sport and for the U25 riders it’s a fantastic opportunity and very important in order to keep bringing the new generation through.
“To compete in all of the venues is something very special; the Global Champions Tour events are fantastic shows. Miami Beach is a wonderful venue.”
Kimberly Prince (USA): “I’m so pleased to be part of such a great venue, a whole new direction for our sport, and it’s really a great new avenue. I’m pleased to be part of a team, particularly Miami Glory as I’m from America and it’s fun to be able to kick off the show. I won’t be competing this time but I’m looking forward to going to Shanghai and competing; to me it’s really exciting, fresh and new.
“I was always thrilled to ride for the US team but as Scott said it’s very interesting to be able to ride with people that you have watched ride and enjoyed competing against. To be on the team with them brings a whole new vision to what would come next, so I think it’s really exciting and important.”
Georgina Bloomberg (USA): “It’s an honour to be part of an owner [of a team] and to be part of the team as a rider. When we first heard about the team concept it was something that was very intriguing to me and something that I believed in – it’s going to be great for the sport of show jumping. As we have said, is really taking off in America right now, if you look at some of the locations we’ve been in with New York and LA, and now in Miami, it just says so much for what’s happening for show jumping in America and it’s exciting to be able to be a part of it. As a team owner it’s exciting and I’m very proud to have Miami as my home team; being American it’s something that was important to have. We’re very excited to be able to kick off the season as well as the home team and I’m looking forward to riding here.
“We have a great team, people I really like as people, but also who I think are amazing riders. These were the riders who are our number one choices and we’re very lucky to have them. I believe we have the best team. Kim is a great rider with some up and coming horses so will be a great addition to the team. Scott obviously is one of the best riders in the world and is somebody who I think everyone is very jealous of us for having. Kent of course is a super rider, a great team rider and very fast. And for Jessica – when we knew we have an U25 pick, she was it. I’ve seen her ride many times and have always had a lot of respect for her as a rider – she was our first choice as an U25 and we were very lucky to get her.
Jessica Mendoza (GBR): “Last year I did a few Global Tours and now to be a part of a team and able to go to many more all around the world is really amazing for me. Now I have more horses that I can jump at these shows so I’m really looking forward to this year. I also think we have the best team, and I think we are going to do well.”
Press Release Source: Global Champions League
Photo by GCL/Stefano Grasso