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Stars line up for high octane team thriller in Valkenswaard

Release date: 14/03/2016

Fifteen teams will line up tonight with the world’s best riders joining forces in a high octane contest at the 12th leg of the Longines Global Champions Tour.

The thrilling Team Competition will play out over fences set at 1.55m / 1.60m in the sweeping grass arena in Valkenswaard and will be preceded by a stunning opening ceremony.

Teams will ride under the names of the 2015 Tour calendar destinations in the two-round competition. The combined scores will be added up, and the top eight teams will go through to the next round to battle it out for the final positions in this dramatic and exciting format. With the likes of Rolf-Göran Bengtsson & Harrie Smolders competing together under the name of Team Madrid, Gregory Wathelet & Christian Ahlmann of Team Cascais, the all female team of Tiffany Foster and Luciana Diniz for Team Cannes, and Ludger Beerbaum and Kevin Staut for Team London, it’s set to be an exhilarating evening of show jumping sport. 

The competition will intensify anticipation for the launch of Global Champions League in 2016, when 15 teams will compete on Fridays at all Longines Global Champions Tour events worldwide. The evolution of the sport with the new League format will create fascinating new rivalries and exhilarating competitions in some of the most glamorous sports destinations in the world.

This evening’s special team competition coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Tour circuit and will see famous riders paired together for the first time in the sport following a draw supervised by the FEI this week. Athletes will be competing for €200,000 in prize money in what promises to be a dazzling spectator experience.

US rider Lauren Hough, who will team up with Dutch star Maikel van der Vleuten, tonight said: “I am really looking forward to the new endeavour and we are doing it in possibly the best venue possible. I am sure it will be a spectacular show and we are honoured to be here and to be part of it.”

Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani, currently 5th on the overall Tour ranking, is paired with French speed star Patrice Delaveau, and said: “It is something new and I am excited to do it. And I am excited to see this whole  project (Global Champions League) for next year and it is going to help the sport a lot.”  Speaking about his chances he said: "I’m happy because I am with a good rider. I was lucky to get him in my team."

Visitors and international guests will be treated to the sensational vocals of 11-year-old Amira, who will be centre stage for this evening’s opening ceremony, which will include an orchestra, choir and break dancers all choreographed to a new signature soundtrack for the championship series. 

Following the opening show, which starts at 19:00, the Team Competition kicks off at 19:40 with the second round under floodlights commencing at 21:30.

Tomorrow will see a record number of the world’s best riders battling it out in the 12th Grand Prix of the season, with world No1 Scott Brash looking to defend his 28-point lead ahead of Portugal’s Luciana Diniz. With just three championship Tours remaining after this weekend, there is everything to play for as the 2015 gallops to its climax in Doha, Qatar, in November.

The opening ceremony and Team Competition will be broadcast live via GCT TV, and tomorrow’s Grand Prix will be broadcast live on Class Horse TV, Equida Life and beIN Sports and will be shown at 22:05 on Eurosport.