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Straight from the LGCT Grand Prix of Shanghai and after the Royal Horse Show to the young horse classes in Valkenswaard

Publicatie datum: 24/05/2019

Jan Tops also has an eye for the development of young horses and the riders of the next generation

Jumping riders are tireless globetrotters. While the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Shanghai winner Lizziemary flew back to have a few days off, her rider Danielle Goldstein was sitting in the saddle with her show jacket and white riding pants on again only hours later on Monday morning. She started in the young horse competitions in Valkenswaard with her seven-year-old horse Hipica, a Dutch-bred daughter of Plot-Blue. A week later, at the second event, the world’s best riders were present with their youngsters at the contemporary equestrian centre Tops International Arena. Christian Ahlmann, who finished eighth at the Royal Horse Show in Windsor on Sunday with Take a Chance, was training his young Zangersheide horses at the show in Valkenswaard to gain the necessary experience.

Here, at the facilities of the President of the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) and co-founder of the Global Champions League (GCL) Jan Tops, both top riders and their peers that compete at a lower level are offered the perfect conditions to prepare their youngsters for the big sport. They also have the chance to compete their older horses in the one and two star classes for the last polish on their way to the international top. From early morning till late afternoon competitions are staged in the two big sand arenas for three days.

“When we started the LGCT in 2006 and the new innovative team series Global Champion League in 2016, our goal was to improve the jumping sport for the benefit of all involved. We focused on presenting high-quality events and sport at the highest level. And always under the best conditions for the horses – the welfare of the horses is our priority – for the riders and for the fans. It makes me really happy when I hear the comments of the jumping riders, who say that this development benefits the jumping sport. The riders now earn more prizemoney than before, grooms, owners and breeders, trainers and show organisers, suppliers and providers of different services in our industry also benefit from this development.”

In addition to Danielle Goldstein, Scott Brash, Luciana Diniz, Alberto Zorzi, Gregory Wathelet, the Philippaerts twins, Henrik von Eckermann and other top world ranking riders ride their next generation horses at Tops International Arena. Here is offered what is necessary to lead the five- to seven-year-old four-legged talents carefully to the top sport: firstly the perfect footing for the protection of the horses’ legs. In addition, the time schedule is attuned to give the horses multiple chances to compete and learn under top show conditions – and to make mistakes by which they learn as, for instance, Christian Ahlmann explains. Permanent stabling and the best conditions for the grooms are much appreciated by the riders. 

Jan Tops: “It is important to us to have enough room in the time schedule to give the young horses the possibility to develop further. We have created a great environment for that, so that they can gain experience and develop trust.” The spacious facility, the permanent stabling and the experience of the Olympic team gold medallist 1992 and his organising team guarantee the realisation of the riders’ wishes.

In the Netherlands and Belgium the efforts of the show organisers, the highly efficient breeding industry and the goal-orientated approach of the riders create successes that make the rest of the world look in admiration.
A look at the current order of the LGCT Rankings speaks for itself: Pieter Devos (BEL), Niels Bruynseels (BEL), Daniel Deusser (GER, lives and trains in Belgium), overall winner of the LGCT 2017 Harrie Smolders (NED), Jos Verlooy (BEL), Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS, lives and trains in the Netherlands), Maikel van der Vleuten (NED), Alberto Zorzi (ITA, lives and trains in the Netherlands), and Jerome Guery (BEL).  Only the fifth ranked Kevin Staut doesn’t quite fit in this dominance image. In addition there are the very successful Philippaerts brothers and Gregory Wathelet.

Jan Tops sees his philosophy confirmed looking at the success of his events: “We have built Tops International Arena to offer a world class equestrian centre for top level 5* events. We also focus on the development of future talents and offer events for young horses and young riders.”

There are three more events this season:
  • From 15 till 17 July, the Longines Global Future Champions is staged, offering competitions for young horses (5, 6, 7 and 8-years-old) from Monday till Wednesday.
  • The following week (19 till 21 July) the Longines Global Future Champions offer competitions for Young Riders, Juniors, U25 riders and pony riders.
  • From 9 till 11 August Tops International Arena opens its doors to the world’s top riders for the home competition of the LGCT and the Global Champions League, the 15th leg of the 20 legs in total. 1* and 2* and young horses competitions are also on the programme.
Tickets can be ordered here