Official kick off for weekend of world class horse power in China
Release date: 27/04/2017
Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
The Shanghai Longines Global Champions Tour has been officially declared open as the pre-event press conference kicked off the start of the third leg of the 2017 Championship. In a prelude to the three day event in Shanghai, where eight out of the world’s top ten will compete for top honours as well as the fight for the highly anticipated Global Champions League, anticipation is building for what promises to be another sensational leg of the 15-event series.
LGCT President and Founder, Jan Tops, spoke of the significance of hosting the world’s premier show jumping series in Shanghai and the vision for the growth of the sport: "China’s place on the world stage, as a host of international sport, is now well established whether it is Formula 1, tennis, sailing and, of course, show jumping. And we are proud to be here and look forward to building a strong future for our sport together. It is fantastic to see the growth of equestrianism in China and every year there are more people at the event."
Hosted in the beautifully designed BMW Centre, just moments from the show ground, national and international media were welcomed with Jan who officially opened the event: "In 2014 we made history bringing international sport horses to mainland China for the first time ever - this did not even happen in the 2008 Olympic Games - and my sincere thanks to the Chinese Government who worked with us in a great spirit of co-operation to achieve this landmark agreement with the European Commission. I would like to thank Dr Michael Liu, President BMW China, for hosting us here today. It is not only with us but BMW it is all about horse power!"
Michael Liu, CEO of BMW China, spoke of the significance of partnering with a top event such as the Shanghai Longines Global Champions Tour and revealed a multiple year partnership agreement: “BMW and equestrian is a natural fit. We will continue to support the Shanghai Longines Global Champions Tour for the next three years.”
Expanding on the relationship, Mr Liu said: “Equestrian is an elegant sport, bring a lot of fun to participants and spectators. This unique compatibility is the perfect fit for BMW. Our goal at BMW is not only to provide the best products, but also a unique brand experience. We have supported various sports in China for a long time, including equestrian, marathons, winter sports and golf. We will continue to engage and support sports with full effort for the future.”
The evolution of equestrianism in China and the growth of show jumping in the country has grown tenfold since the LGCT debuted in 2014. Sun Weimin, Deputy Director of Shanghai Administration of Sports said: “The LGCT of Shanghai is a five star sporting event, and is the top show jumping event on Chinese mainland. We had the first event in 2014, and in the past few years we’ve seen increasing numbers of participants. The competition is getting fiercer and fiercer, and the event in Shanghai has become a global force. We have over 60 international and national riders here in Shanghai. The LGCT of Shanghai will be a focal point around the world."
Jan spoke of the growing enthusiasm for the sport across China; "It is fantastic to see the growing popularity of show jumping across China and here in Shanghai since we brought top-level competition here. Each year we witness more and more passionate fans coming to watch the competition and following us on TV and digital and social media. And I am pleased to learn about the continuing and significant growth of equestrian clubs across China as more and more people get involved in riding. If this enthusiasm can grow at the grassroots - with children and young adults learning to ride safely and then progressing to junior and senior competitions - then China is on the path to developing talented stars for the future.”
Top German rider and multiple Olympian Ludger Beerbaum agreed: “What we see here is the future of the sport and young Chinese athletes. It’s very motivating to be a small part of the development here in Shanghai. Coming here for the fourth year in the row - I enjoy coming here, I see a strong aim to improve and get better. More and more people are coming, experiencing the show, feeling the atmosphere - it’s really cool and something we can be really proud of."
With the world’s best in action at this stunning destination, Dennis Li, Vice President of Longines China, spoke of the excitement surrounding the event: “This will be the fourth year in a row that Longines is the Title Partner for the show here in Shanghai and we’d like to thank LGCT for making this event possible. Gathering the best riders and horses in the world to compete, and showcasing the elegance of the sport is everything the Longines Global Champions Tour works to achieve.Our brand and the LGCT share a passion for sport and tradition in the equestrian world."
The LGCT has spear-headed the growth of the sport in mainland China, bringing horses to an environment that was never before possible. Fan Jianlin, General Manager of Shanghai Juss Sports Development (Group) Co., Ltd, spoke of the logistics faced with bringing: “As the top show jumping event, the Longines Global Champions Tour has been in Shanghai for the last four years. We have overcome many challenges to achieve this, including quarantine, transportation and logistics. We have brought the highest level of show jumping to the city of Shanghai which also helps the development of the sport here in our country."
Jan summarised the event: "Top sport is at the heart of what we do and I am pleased to say all the competition horses have arrived safely on their flight from Europe to Shanghai and I am confident we will have another amazing weekend of competition at the highest level. This is the second year of the new Global Champions League and we have increased from 12 to 18 teams, including the home city team Shanghai Swans.”
The show wil kick off tomorrow at 12:15 local time, before the first round of the Global Champions League will take place at 15:00. For a full show schedule and all the information, please click here.