A plane-load of elite showjumping horses arrived at Shanghai airport earlier today (Tuesday 3 June) in a historic moment for equestrian sport. This is the first time that foreign horses have been allowed to compete in mainland China after strict quarantine restrictions were lifted.

The horses landed ahead of the inaugural Longines Global Champions Tour (GCT) in China this weekend (6-8 June) and more than 100 local journalists waited through the night to greet the equine arrivals.

China has a growing international showjumping circuit but, until now, foreign riders have had to compete on borrowed horses. Last year, the European Commission and Chinese authorities signed off legislation that allowed for the temporary importation of horses to Shanghai. 

Riders taking part in this leg of the GCT include Great Britain’s Michael Whitaker, Ireland’s Billy Twomey, Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum and France’s Kevin Staut. They will compete for a record $2million in prize-money, with a substantial $363,000 going to the winner of the grand prix.

Read all about how the landmark event unfolded in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine (out 12 June).