This weekend, the best riders in the world gather in Central London for three days of spectacular Global Champions Tour showjumping. From Friday to Sunday (4-6 August) the Royal Hospital Chelsea, is the place to be for some world class sport, great entertainment and a not-to-be-missed experience. H&H brings you a handy guide to the big event so you needn’t miss a thing…
1. The showjumping is split into CSI2* and CSI5* classes — the two-star competitions take place in the morning over fences up to 1.45m, while the elite riders take part in the five-star classes later in the day, where jumps are set at 1.60m.
2. British riders heading to the show include 2012 London Olympic gold medallist and 2014 London winner Scott Brash and his team-mate Ben Maher, plus showjumping legends John and Michael Whitaker.
3. John Whitaker, who turns 62 on the Saturday of the show, will be riding his top horse Argento and the exciting nine-year-old Cassinis Chaplin. “You always want to do well in front of a home crowd and this new venue sounds good — I’m looking forward to it,” he told H&H.
4. A formidable nine out of the world’s top 10 riders are in action in London, including world number 1 Kent Farrington (USA), Daniel Deusser (GER), Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Simon Delestre (FRA). Click here for the full list of riders.
5. All the five-star rounds will be streamed via the website featuring exclusive studio interviews, expert commentary and all the live action.
6. There are 15 events in the Global Champions Tour season, which starts in USA, taking in Mexico City and Shanghai before travelling round Europe with a prestigious final taking place in Doha, Qatar, in November.
7. The London venue is a new destination for the 2017 season and it is the first time an equestrian event has been held in Chelsea, at the site of the famous Flower Show.
8. The Longines Global Champions Tour first visited London in 2013 next to the Olympic stadium. It then moved to Horse Guards in 2014 and Syon Park in 2015. It is hoped that this venue will prove a popular and permanent fixture in the showjumping calendar.
9. Saturday’s grand prix is guaranteed to be a thriller — who can forget the epic showdown between Nick Skelton (Big Star) and Ben Maher (Cella in 2013? This undoubtedly goes down in showjumping history as one of the best jump-offs we’ve ever seen — relive the head-to-head here…
10. The Chelsea Pensioners, for whom the Royal Hospital Chelsea is their home, will be taking a keen interest in the show — you won’t miss them in their distinctive scarlet coats.
11. Visitors can also enjoy a shopping village, refreshment areas and a dedicated children’s area including face painting and the famous Longines carousel ride.
12. Look out for great opportunities to meet the riders at the three-day show and grab a selfie or two.
13. The big class, the Longines Grand Prix, which offers riders the chance to win 300,000euro, takes place on Saturday after the conclusion of the thrilling team competition, the Global Champions League.
14. The Global Champions League team competition is a relatively new addition to the Tour, thought up by president Jan Tops and his team. 18 squads have been battling it out this season with the Hamburg Diamonds currently head of the leaderboard, but British crowds can cheer for the “home” team, the London Knights, represented by our very own Ben Maher.
15. The feature class on Sunday is worth nearly €100,000 and all the top riders will be back in action, making this a really thrilling competition with a guaranteed rollercoaster of a jump-off.
16. If all that’s whetted your appetite for a slice of GCT action this weekend, head to globalchampionstour.com/tickets where H&H readers can grab a fantastic 10% discount on covered grandstand tickets by using the code HORSEANDHOUND.
17. And don’t miss all Horse & Hound’s coverage with regular updates on our dedicated Facebook page @horseandhoundshowjumping and online as well as the show’s full report and comment from Nick Skelton in next week’s magazine (out Thursday 10 August)