Imagine a tour of the globe’s most glamorous cities. Add in thrilling competition with the world’s best show jumpers, then top it off with a VIP tent featuring the culinary treasures of each culture and you have the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT). At a time when nationalism is growing, the tour proves that the love of horses unifies everyone across borders.
Like a rite of passage in a bygone era where traveling the great cities was the epitome of a proper education, the LGCT outlays a map across 15 cities and 3 continents for a rider to be crowned the circuit champion. New this year is the Global Champions League where top riders compete in teams allowing up and comers to ride side by side with Olympic and world champions.
With a combined purse for both the individual and team competitions of 7.5 million Euros it is a rich experience indeed.
Paris Welcomes Top Riders
Paris was the 10th stop at the Paris Eiffel Jumping this year nestled in the Plaine de Jeux de Bagatelle. French fans proved their fervor, sitting even through pouring rain to cheer on their favorites. For Virginie Coupérie-Eiffel, a descendent of Gustave and President of the Paris Eiffel Jumping , the event is about brining horses back to the heart of Paris and inviting the public to share in the celebration.
Jan Tops President of the LGCT comments of the tour which ranges from grass and sand footing, from small to large arenas, “This kind of series is very special for an all-around rider and horse. Only the really good ones can be consistent and be on top. Whoever wins the series is the world champion in our sport.”
Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson won the LGCT Paris Grand Prix aboard Casall who proved at 17 he was still in top form. Yet France had a great showing with Simon Delestre winning the CSI5* Prix Renault Talisman and crowd favorite Roger-Yves Bost winning the Eiffel Sunday Challenge presented by la Marie de Paris. Julien Epaillard also went lightning fast to win the Prix Oddo.
In the Global Champions League the Antwerp Diamonds with Audrey Coulter and Harry Smolders emerged victorious.
By design, the GCT is also a welcoming place for amateurs with classes such as the CSI1* Jump Fax Prize won by Roberto Previtoli. Tops commented, “It’s very special for the amateurs to be in the same ring as the top riders. Every week in unique arenas with great atmosphere – they have a great advantage to be competing.”
The VIP tent was the epitome of Parisian chic with understated elegance, refined cuisine, and a mix of haute society including Bruce Springsteen, Salma Hayek and husband Francois Pinault, Marion Cotillard, and Gérard Depardieu. The magical performance by Jean-Francois Pignon with his “naked” horses was inspirational and there were great shopping boutiques including Dada Sport which dressed riders and spectators in the unseasonably cool weather.
Charity was also a key component with money being raised for JustWorld International with every clear jump over the Longines obstacle and a series of specially created architectural jumps from Jean-Michael Wilmotte auctioned by Christie’s to benefit La Bonne Etoile to promote education and health care for underprivileged children.
The Best of Summer in Paris
On the tour you can also learn about the best inside spots and adventures in each city. For special bespoke experiences in Paris equestriantravels.com can create memorable moments such as a special chauffeured tour of the city in a vintage convertible citroen, an unforgettable way to experience the city. On summer nights at the Invalides a special history of France and Paris is presented with an open air show with digital images and sound and light effects (www.lanuitauxinvalides.fr). And why not explore yoga en plein air (www.yogateau.com). A restaurant terrace hot spot is at Hotel Edgar with progressive cuisine and is also an affordable boutique hotel (www.edgarparis.com). The ultra-luxe Hotel Maurice creates La Plage at Le Maurice at their Spa Valmont where the terrace turns into a mini beach for apres-spa relaxation and specialty cocktails (www.dorchestercollection.com). Add opera to a dinner cruise on the Seine and you have Les Croisieres Opéra (www.lescroisieresopera.com.)