TOPS INTERNATIONAL ARENANew showjumping format stands the test

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A spectacular weekend of top international sport and entertainment, marked the 10 year anniversary of the Longines Global Champions Tour, and the inauguration of the new Tops International Arena venue in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands.

During this weekend the new concept of a teamcompetition, Global Champions League was introduced to the audience. The new format was a tryout of a new concept that will be a new class on every Global Champions tour event next season. Fans did see riders who traditionally compete against each other, collaborating on tactics and going all out to win as a team, this made it very exciting to watch.

15 teams of two riders were paired together after a random draw watched over by the officials of the FEI. All the teams were named after the 15 destinations of the 2015 championship circuit, in the two round competition where eight teams will go through to the second round.

Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Harrie Smolders were the victorious dream team in Valkenswaard in a spectacular precursor to the launch of Global Champions League in 2016. Riding as Team Madrid, they took the win over Edwina Tops-Alexander and Henk van de Pol who finished in second place as Team Chantilly, with Daniel Deusser and Christina Liebherr taking third for Team Hamburg. Flying Dutchman Harrie declared: “It was always a dream to ride in a team once with him and it came out.”

It was revealed that teams for the new League, which will offer prize money of €7.5 million, are already lined up as anticipation for the new show jumping format gathers momentum. Speaking about the new League, Jan Tops said: “This year we already have six teams committed for next year. You can mix different nations and get the best of the best together and that is what makes it different from the Nations Cup. It is going to be very exciting to see that and follow that next year.”

The nail-biting Team Competition had fans on the edge of their seats as riders who are normally rivals were paired up and depending on each other for success. Tactics and strategy came into play as tension built during the two-round competition played out under floodlights at the state-of-the-art facility.

Jan Tops – President of Longines Global Champions Tour: “The whole evening was fantastic, it was for sure a great course again from Uliano and great sport, only one team clear and the ambience in the new stadium was fantastic on the Friday night. It was the first time we have jumped in the evening in front of so many people, I think it was amazing. This is what the format for next year for the League will be. It will be on the Friday evening, the team will exist of five people and the team manager or the team owner can decide two riders to ride in the class. It is going to be over 15 events, the whole year, and will have good prize money of seven and a half million over the Tour, every class will be 200,000, so it’s going to be amazing sport and I think that the riders will prepare their good horses also for the Friday night.

“Strategy is very interesting as we have 15 events and all will be different. Sometimes we jump in the day, sometimes in the night, sometimes in the grass arena, sand arena, small arenas, so it is going to be really strategic for the team manager, where to put which horse where and I think that’s the beauty of this competition.”

What do the riders say about the new Tops arena?

maddenBeezie Madden

“Faboulous, the footing is excellent, everything is amazing here. All ingredients of a good show is here: The caring of the horse is most important for me so that is why I really like the footing here, a lot of spectators, great atmosfeer and also prize money is very good. I also liked the new concept of teamjumping, it is always nice to try new things”


delaveauPatrice Delaveau

“Fantastic! There are no more words to add.”



Lauren van Berkel

( participant at the CSI 1* show)

“The footing is perfect, the grass is so nice. Impressive facilities, the stables are great, maybe to chique, it could be any kind of event here, not necessarily horses. It is huge. I think the most important ingredient of a good show is the ambiance, the arena’s and facilities are at most places really nice, the standard today is so high, the ambiance is what makes it special. “



Nina Fortgens
Nina Fortgens


Nina’s passion for horses started already as a little girl riding ponies in Sweden where she grew up. The huge amount of fun and excitement made her dream about a future business with horses. After her marketing education she now runs a showjumping yard in the south of the Netherlands together with her partner. Dreams are made possible with a lot of dedication, faith and hard work. For Nina horses are fascinating animals and they all have such different personalities. The communication between horse and rider is crucial and the team effort of the two is what inspires her. She believes in the joy horses can bring and love’s the emotion and excitement of the equestrian sports.

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