A new era of show jumping has begun…where Team Spirit appears across nations. For the first time in the history of show jumping, top riders from different countries unite to compete at the highest level in showjumping on the same team
By Therese Alhaug. Photos Stefano Grasso/GCL. Source globalchampionsleague.com
The Global Champions League was founded in 2015 with the goal of advancing the sport of show jumping to new levels by adopting a competition model and governance structure derived from the best practices of some of the most successful sports leagues in the world. So what does this mean in particular? Let’s have a look at how the teams are set up.
The Global Champions League consists of 12 teams that compete through the season – all aligned with the prestigious Global Champions Tour calendar. Each of the twelve teams consists of five riders, of which a maximum of two riders, representing the Top 30 in the FEI Longines Jumping Ranking from the previous year, can participate. Each team also welcomes one young rider below 25 years old to join the team; a feature, which supports the development of young riders and promising horses as they get to train and compete alongside some of the greatest names in show jumping. This way, the GCL hopes to encourage the identification and training of future professional show jumping riders, and to help sustain the long-term growth of the sport.
Quotes Marco Kutscher (Cannes Stars):
“I think a multi-nation team is something unique, something really special. We haven’t had this in our sport and it makes it even more interesting. It’s fun. For the under-25 rider it is a great chance to develop themselves and to get help from the other team members with more experience.”
The League invites riders to compete in world-class arenas, in incredible destinations. Not to mention; with fences at 1.50/1.55m the riders bring their top horses in which makes the League a real crowd favourite. John Whitaker has competed with his star Argento. Bertram Allen with the extremely talented Romanov, always with the aim to win. Not to mention – There is a 4.5 million euro bonus prize at the end of the season in Qatar. Who would not want to participate?
Because of this unique way of teaming up, The GCL have been presenting partnerships formed like never before. To state an example, two of the quietest riders in showjumping have become firm friends, with John Whitaker and Bertram Allen teaming up for the team “Valkenswaard United.” Thus proving time and time again that they are a combination to be reckoned with. The two popular teammates have also been showing themselves as the team with the most podium appearances. But do not forget the presence of the beloved four-legged stars; Harrie Smolders’ stunning grey gelding, Bokai, that has made his appearance as one of the most consistent horses at the league so far, hitting the list as “GCL star horse number one”.
Quotes Bertram Allen (Valkenswaard United):
“The first one in Miami was already really good and to win you have to have good fast experienced horses, the level is getting higher and higher and if you want to win you have to bring your good horses.”
The names of the team’s point to each venue in which the competitions are held, which gives every team the chance to battle at one “home event,” all of them chasing the total prize of 7.5 million euros. Each team must register for a minimum of one season, and each team must compete at every League event, entering two of its five eligible riders for competition each weekend. After each season, however, the team will be able to change the members of its roster, including both main and training riders, depending on the terms of its agreements with those athletes.
Quotes Harrie Smolders (Antwerp Diamonds):
“I think we saw some exciting sport. The Global did so much for our sport and they deserve our support and we are all going to make this into a successful story.”
Team colours, team music and the stars of showjumping have all contributed to the growing success of this exciting League, and with the calendar stopping at all the 15 unique locations of the Global Champions Tour, more and more people are able to experience the beauty of the sport up close, all around the world. The 15 venues represent some of the most iconic destinations on the planet: Miami Beach, Mexico City, Antwerp, Shanghai, Hamburg, Madrid, Chantilly, Cannes, Monaco, Paris, Cascais, Valkenswaard, Rome, Vienna, and Doha.
More info at globalchampionsleague.com
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