Text By Heather Buchanan – Photos by Hugo Tordjman
Showmanship was at its finest at the Longines Masters of Paris. Christophe Ameeuw, CEO of EEM, the show’s creator, and his team produced four days of top competition and entertainment in a luxurious setting from December 1st to 4th.
New bonuses include a record setting 2.25 million euros, the “Super Grand Slam Indoor of Show Jumping,” for a rider who wins all three grand prix in the order of Los Angeles, Paris, Hong Kong. In the Longines Grand Prix in Paris it was Belgian rider Gregory Wathelet who emerged victorious commenting, “This is a top event with the best riders and the best horses.” Bertram Allen who came in second added, “The atmosphere in the arena is fantastic and even when you walk around it’s a great feeling.” Daniel Deusser, winner of Los Angeles but third in Paris said, “The bonus gives us motivation. We compete against each other every weekend and on days like today you think, ‘I have to do better than the rest.’ The three shows are top quality but I must say the audience here in Paris is absolutely unbelievable!”
Move over Usain Bolt. There’s another fastest man in the world, Kevin Staut, who won the Longines Speed Challenge over a course design by Uliano Vezzani including a central octagonal pen that tripped up some of the best riders in the world. The Pro Am for Charity presented by Hyatt had riders in costume competing for charity. Camille Conde Ferreira as Snow White and Jerome Guery as her Prince won for their charity Sauveteurs Sans Frontières or Rescuers Without Borders.
Yet it was blind rider Salim Ejnaini who captured the hearts of the public. Mentored by Guillaume Canet, he astounded audiences by jumping the same course as 5* competitors (albeit at 1m) guided only by “criers” around the course yelling directions and the help of his horse Rapsody.
EEM along with EEF announced the Masters Riders Cup, a new team competition pitting the US against Europe with chef d’équipes devising strategy for this head to head duel which will debut at the Paris show next year. McLain Ward commented, “I think every time we can continue to have team competitions with national pride it’s great.”
Next up is Hong Kong from February 10 to 12, 2017.