The Longines Global Champions Tour made it’s annual stop-off in London last weekend (2-4 August) and, as always, we were treated to three days of scintillating showjumping. It’s such a privilege to have some of the best horses and riders competing on our doorstep and we can only marvel at the likes of Marcus Ehning’s horsemanship and Eric Lamaze’s acceleration against the clock.
The highlight was, undoubtedly, Ben Maher’s outstanding double victory in the grand prix and GCL on “Super Saturday” riding his global superstar Explosion W.
But away from the main arena, too, the entertainment was non-stop. In case you missed it, here are just some of the epic moments from this year’s show.
1. Chelsea Pensioners
The Royal Hospital Chelsea is a spectacular backdrop for the show and the Chelsea Pensioners warmly welcomed everyone into their back garden — seen here during the presentation to five-star winner Jos Verlooy.
2. Eye on the prize
Ireland’s Darragh Kenny produced a brilliant double clear with Classic Dream to take a podium spot in Saturday’s grand prix.
3. The Boss is in the house
Jessica Springsteen’s most loyal fans, her father Bruce and mother Patti Scialfa, were in attendance throughout the three days.
4. The stars of the show
Sorry Ben Maher and Rory Bremner, but all eyes are on The Brooke’s mini mascots, Alfie the donkey and Harry the miniature Shetland. Aaaaaaaaaah.
5. Complete focus
No five-star show is complete without A-listers such as the masterful Marcus Ehning — in action here on Cristy.
6. Cavalry charge
The Household Cavalry were a lovely feature of the show, including flanking the podium for Saturday’s grand prix.
7. Time for tea
No English show would be complete without a lovely drink of tea and VIP guests in London were treated to a cuppa with a difference.
8. The great British winning streak
In the show’s CSI2* classes, there was a near-whitewash of British wins, including a double for birthday boy Matt Sampson riding Geneve R.
9. Thumbs up if you’ve just won a hundred grand
The top prize for Saturday’s grand prix was €99,000 — no wonder Ben Maher is pleased after his epic performance on one of the most consistent horses in the history of the sport, Explosion W.
10. A taste of London
Alan Wade’s tracks drew much praise, not least for his use of beautiful London-themed jumps. Dutch rider Jur Vrieling is flanked by the wings of two guards on sentry duty after his five-star win on day one.
11. Red carpet
Leading up to the VIP entrance is your standard Longines horse and a brace of Bentleys…
12. From the football pitch to the showjumping arena
Chelsea player Olivier Giroud pops down the road to see his friend, French rider Olivier Robert.
13. Autograph hunters
British riders Emily Moffitt and Ben Maher — also part of the London Knights squad, who claimed GCL glory on Saturday — take time out to meet fans, pose for selfies and offer an autographed hat or two.
14. Champagne fiiiiiiiiiight!
No Longines Global Champions Tour grand prix is complete without the explosion of champagne on the podium. Ben Maher definitely took the full impact in this one…
15. Mind the gap
Spectacular ringside seating with the best views in the house of these beautiful London-themed fences.
16. Gymnastic jumping
Anyone fancy riding down this towering 1.60m line of fences? You can even check the time as you do so. Julien Epaillard of France makes the Longines treble look unfeasibly easy on Usual Suspect D’Auge.
17. Flying on to the podium
Irishman Shane Sweetnam and Alejandro couldn’t quite match the time set by Ben Maher on Explosion W in the grand prix jump-off, but their runner-up spot earned them a ticket to the end-of-season Super Grand Prix in Prague in November.
To read the full report from the London leg of the Global Champions Tour, don’t miss the 8 August issue of Horse & Hound magazine