An impressive 25 of the 2016 Rio Olympics-named show jumpers will be in action for the Longines Global Champions Tour of Valkenswaard – one of the final CSI5* competitions ahead of this year’s games – before flying directly to Rio, including the full German team consisting of Ludger Beerbaum (GER), Christian Ahlmann (GER), Daniel Deusser (GER), Marcus Ehning (GER) and reserve Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER).
The spectacular Tops International Arena will also welcome four of its home-grown talents with Harrie Smolders (NED), Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED), Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and reserve Gerco Schroder (NED) all competing at the 12th leg of the Tour in what promises to be an incredible weekend of top sport.
Representing Australia for the 2016 Games, current LGCT Ranking leader Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) has a tally of 234 points and will be looking to increase her tight two point gap over long-time leader and World Number 2, Christian Ahlmann (GER), who will be hungry to return to the top of the ranking during his 12th consecutive leg of the Championship. Hot on their heels will be third place man, Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE), who sits on 200 points overall and will be looking for another strong result before he heads to Rio next month to represent Sweden.
Other Olympic-named athletes confirmed to attend the LGCT of Valkenswaard include World Number 3 Mclain Ward (USA), compatriots Kent Farrington (USA) and Laura Kraut (USA), Jerome Guery (BEL), Nicola Philippaerts (BEL), Pedro Veniss (BRA), Eric Lamaze (CAN), Serigio Alvarez Moya (ESP), John Whitaker (GBR), Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA), Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani (QAT), Bassem Hassan Mohammed (QAT), Faleh Suwead Al Ajami (QAT) and Steve Guerdat (SUI). With this one of the final competitions before the Olympic Games in Brazil, all eyes will be on the world’s top show jumpers to see who’s on form and looking strong ahead of the August competition in South America.
On top of those confirmed for the Rio Olympics, a whole host of star studded names will be in action during the four day festival of show jumping, including last year’s Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Valkenswaard winner Marco Kutscher (GER). Joining him will be the likes of Bertram Allen (IRL), Gregory Wathelet (BEL), Lauren Hough (USA), Scott Brash (GBR), Georgina Bloomberg (USA), Jessica Springsteen (USA), Jos Verlooy (BEL), Marlon Zanotelli (BRA) and Jane Richard Phillips (SUI). Young local star Kevin Jochems (NED) will also be back in action for this round of the Championship, as will the young talent of Emily Moffitt (USA), Philip Houston (GER), Paris Sellon (USA) and David Will (GER).
Valkenswaard, situated in The Netherlands, is the spiritual home of the Longines Global Champions Tour, and is always a favourite with riders, owners and sponsors alike. This year, the spectacular and state of the art Tops International Arena will host the 12th round of the Tour and the Global Champions League from the 4th – 7th August 2016, with CSIYH*, CSI1* and CSI2* classes complimenting the CSI5* events, and of course the LGCT Grand Prix, which will take place on Saturday 6th August. Sunday will see the intense battle for the Global Champions League season title kick off as defending Ranking Leaders Valkenswaard United will head to home turf to compete against the other 11 unique teams.
The superb facilities created by Longines Global Champions Tour Founder and President Jan Tops have reached new heights following an impressive re-development cementing the venue as the epicentre of equestrianism in Europe. Offering new opportunities to the next generation of show jumping talent, for both horses and riders, the Tops International Arena has recently debuted two weeks of shows under the Global Future Champions banner, designed to help provide opportunities and grow the future of the sport.
The four day festival of show jumping in Valkenswaard will be the final opportunity for the world to watch the very best show jumpers in action ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and with all eyes on Tops International Arena, it’s set to be an incredible weekend for the sport.