THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – An equestrian game changer

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

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.

GCL of Madrid – Monaco Aces – Schuyler Riley on Dobra de Porceyo. Photo: Stefano Grasso/GCL

The teams

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.


GCL of Madrid - Athina Onassis-Edwina Tops-Alexander-Jessica Springsteen-Alexandra Thornton-Vincent Caumartin Madrid,22nd may 2016 ph.Stefano Grasso/GCL
GCL of Madrid: Athina Onassis-Edwina Tops-Alexander-Jessica Springsteen-Alexandra Thornton-Vincent Caumartin

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.”

Top-level sport

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?


GCL of Valkenswaard - Team Antwerp Diamonds at the ingate Valkenswaard, 7th august 2016 ph. Mario Grassia/GCL
GCL of Valkenswaard – Team Antwerp Diamonds at the ingate

Exciting partnerships

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”.

GCL of Cannes - Teams and public enjoys the show Cannes,11th june 2016 ph.Stefano Grasso/GCL
GCL of Cannes – Teams and public enjoys the show

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 rules

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.

GCL of Madrid - Monaco Aces - Daniel Bluman and Schuyler Riley Madrid,22nd may 2016 ph.Stefano Grasso/GCL
GCL of Madrid – Monaco Aces – Daniel Bluman and Schuyler Riley

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.”

Iconic destinations

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.

Champagna celebration

More info at

The teams:


Scott Brash

Kent Farrington

Georgina Bloomberg

Kimberly Prince

Jessica Mendoza



Harrie Smolders

Marc Houtzager

Audrey Coulter

Michael Whitaker

Jos Verlooy



Edwina Tops-Alexander

Janne-Friederike Meyer

Samantha McIntosh

Jessica Springsteen

Alexandra Thornton



Athina Onassis

Pedro Veniss

Marta Ortega Perez

Alberto Zorzi

Gonzalo Añón Suarez



Marco Kutscher

Roger-Yves Bost

Roosje Brouwer

Kevin Jochems



Maikel van der Vleuten

Leopold van Asten

Schuyler Riley

Daniel Bluman

Lisa Nooren



Rolf-Göran Bengtsson

Gregory Wathelet

Nicola Philippaerts

Kamal Bahamdan

Titouan Schumacher



Pilar Lucrecia Cordon

Andreas Kreuzer

Quentin Judge

David Will

Philip Houston



Bertram Allen

John Whitaker

Eduardo Menezes

Emily Moffitt



Laura Kraut

Laura Renwick

Marlon Módolo Zanotelli

Jack Towell

Emma Heise



Lauren Hough

Rodrigo Pessoa

Paris Sellon

Danielle Goldstein

Emanuel Andrade



Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani

Bassem Hassan Mohammed

Ali Yousef Al Rumaihi

Faleh Suwead Al Ajami

Hamad Ali Mohamed A Al Attiyah





Therese Stub Alhaug
Therese Stub Alhaug


Therese is the editor of Equilife, and is truly dedicated to equestrian sports and horses. She started riding as a little girl, and enjoys her free time with her two horses back home. Portrait interview is her favorite topic, as it has the gift to inspire others through peoples stories, knowledge, training and general life-philosophy, and certainly, their lives with horses.

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