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Forbes.com Feature: World-Class Horses And Equestrians Shine In The City Of Light

Release date: 06/07/2017

Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso

The original article, by Ariana Rockefeller can be found on Forbes.com here.

In the heart of Paris, The Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT)  hosted one of the world's most stunning horse shows over the weekend. Beneath the Eiffel Tower in the sprawling Champ de Mars park, over 100 horses arrived in the early hours of Thursday morning and prepared to compete in the eighth of the fifteen leg LGCT tour at Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping.

Showjumping is all about speed of course, and Swiss watch company Longinesis the official timekeeper and sponsor of the LGCT tour. Vice President of Longines, Juan Carlos Capelli, expressed his appreciation of the partnership, saying, “To be back here for one of the best shows in the world, to have together glamour, sport at the highest level, gastronomy and culture matches very well with our brand.” 

Together with LGCT, event organizer Virginie Couperie-Eiffel provided a perfect mix of equestrian elegance and modern hospitality. The VIP tent was definitely a glamorous sight for riders and high-profile guests, with stunning views of the Eiffel Tower and fittingly positioned around the iconic bronze statue of Marshal Joffre, a WWI French military commander, built in 1939. Of course it would not be a horse show in Paris without Michelin Star cuisine catered by Chef Alain Ducasse. An artisanal cheese and dessert station added another level of culinary luxury, while bottles of Louis Roederer Champagne were never in short supply.

Behind the grandstands and hospitality tent another kind of VIP area was set up in the form of a temporary stable, which housed the extraordinary animals over the weekend. The horses are treated like the world-class athletes that they are. Much care is put into their grooming, diet and post competition recovery. Treatments include gel-pack ice boots, acupuncture, and massage therapy.

The celebrities of this event were certainly the riders, with the entire French Gold medal Olympic team present, as well as top-level USA stars Laura Kraut, Georgina Bloomberg, Lucy Davis, and Jessica Springsteen. Other well-known guests in attendance included Bruce and Patti Springsteen, (there to cheer on daughter Jessica), Mary-Kate Olsen, Olivia Palermo, Lee Westwood, and Guillaume Canet.

The shopping village and viewing areas were open and free of admission to the public, and over the weekend aproximately 50,000 people came to enjoy the spectacular sights and sport. The grandstands were packed every day, and whether spectators knew much or little about the show jumping sport, one could not help but appreciate the beauty of the horses and the skill of the riders piloting them over 5-foot-plus-high fences, all beneath the iconic Eiffel Tower.

On Saturday evening, as the Grand Prix was about to start, the clouds cleared for a spectacular sunset in the Parisian skyline set behind the Eiffel Tower. Twenty-five riders took part in this 1.60 meter Five Star Grand Prix, competing for the €300,000 prize. The grandstands and sidelines were packed as spectators cheered on some of the best equestrian athletes in the world. It was a good day to be rooting for the home team as France commanded the leader board, with 3 in the top 5 positions, and French rider Julien Epaillard taking first place on his horse Usual Suspect D'auge. Julien called it “the greatest victory of [his] career.”