With nine of the top ten riders in the world competing from 4-6 August 2017, spectators will be treated to jaw-dropping feats of athleticism and skill against the dramatic backdrop of Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital Chelsea.
It is nearly five years to the day since Team GB took team jumping gold at the London 2012 Olympics. The home crowd will be cheering on medallists Scott Brash and Ben Maher in the prestigious Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of London, presented by Sapinda. They will both be vying for a win on their respective eye-catching chestnut geldings Hello Forever and Don Vito to mark the special occasion. National hero John Whitaker also has something to celebrate; he turns 62 on Saturday and will wowing the crowds on his top stallion Argento, who is renowned for his big, careful jump. He will be joined by his brother Michael Whitaker and other British talents including Laura Renwick, William Funnel and Jessica Mendoza.
Current series leader Harrie Smolders (NED) has already announced that he will be riding his top stallion Emerald N.O.P. sending a clear message to the other competitors that he intends to widen his 252-point lead. Hot on his heels is Alberto Zorzi (ITA), who will be riding two horses including Cornetto K, with 221 points and the winner of last weekend’s Berlin leg Christian Ahlmann (GER) with Caribis Z and Taloubet Z, who is just one point behind.
World number one Kent Farrington (USA) has brought his two top class 10-year olds Creedance and Dublin to join the battle for top spot. Other famous pairings taking to the arena over the weekend include Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) with Armitages Boy and Halifax van het Kluizebos; Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Chacco Kid; Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) and Chilli Willi; Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Clooney 51; Denis Lynch (IRL) and All Star 5; and finally, Simon Delestre (FRA) with Chesall Zimequest and Hermes Ryan.
In the Global Champions League team competition, the London Knights featuring Ben Maher will be hoping for a win on home soil following a podium finish last weekend in Berlin. Series leader Hamburg Diamonds will be fighting to retain the top spot with Valkenswaard United a mere eight points behind and snapping at their heels.
Brazilian Olympic gold medallist Rodrigo Pessoa said:
“It’s great to be back in London in this beautiful location. Great Britain is real horse country and I am sure the crowd will be behind this event 100%. The Tour is at a really hot point in the championship right now!”
The Royal Hospital Chelsea, which was founded by King Charles II over 300 years ago to care for veterans now known as the Chelsea Pensioners, is also the location for the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show and provides an iconic scene for this weekend’s sporting spectacle. As well as the all-weather jumping arena, the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea will play host to a shopping village featuring sculptures by Collier & Dobson and brands including Annabel Brocks, Harcour and Nyetimber. VIP guests can peruse two exclusive design lounges by Italian furniture brand Minotti and luxury equestrian performance wear brand Miasuki.
Covered Grandstand tickets for the sporting spectacle have sold out on the Saturday, but limited tickets remain for Friday and Sunday’s events which will see the very best riders in the world battle it out in the Global Champions League qualifying competition and CSI5* classes. Fans can still enjoy Saturday’s Global Champions League final and Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix with a £5 General Admission ticket, which gives the holder access to the shopping village, warm up arena and limited space for a standing view of the action.