An impressive eight out of the world’s top 10 ranked riders will be competing at the first European leg of the 2016 Longines Global Champions Tour. World Number One, Simon Delestre (FRA) will be in action at the sensational city of Antwerp, with World Number Two, and current LGCT Ranking leader Christian Ahlmann (GER) bringing one of his top horses, Codex One, and World Number Three and two-time LGCT Champion of Champions Scott Brash (GBR) looking to move up the leaderboard with his Olympic Gold Medal winning horse Hello Sanctos.
2015 saw Simon steal the show with his stunning horse Ryan Des Hayettes and the prestigious Grand Prix win, and this year sees him pull out all the stops and show strong intentions with top horses Qlassic Bois Margot and Hermes Ryan both in attendance.
Also looking to do battle at the sensational opening European event will be World Number Four, Penelope Leprevost (FRA), with Kent Farrington (USA), local rider Gregory Wathelet (BEL), Bertram Allen (IRL) and Kevin Staut (FRA) rounding out the top ten riders in the world.
Currently Germany’s Christian Ahlmann leads the LGCT Ranking points, just eight points ahead of Great Britain’s John Whitaker (GBR) who will head to the Belgian city of Antwerp with his talented mare Ornellaia. Hot on their heels is young talent Jos Verlooy (BEL), fresh from his LGCT Silver Medal in Mexico City and looking to capitalise on his third place in the rankings at his home Grand Prix. Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani (QAT), Emanuele Gaudiano (ITA), last weekend’s LGCT Grand Prix of Mexico City winner Roger-Yves Bost (FRA) and Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) will also be looking to improve on their top ten position at this early stage of the season Tour.
Belgium will host many of it’s best riders, with both Nicola and Olivier Philippaerts (BEL), Pieter Devos (BEL), Niels Bruynseels (BEL) and Gudrun Patteet (BEL) joining Gregory Wathelet and Jos Verlooy for the sparkling event. Germany too has a strong showing, with legend of the sport Ludger Beerbaum (GER), Marco Kutscher (GER), Daniel Deusser (GER), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER), Philip Houston (GER) and Hans-Dieter Dreher (GER) looking to do battle at the third stop of the Tour.
Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE), Jessica Springsteen (USA), Lauren Hough (USA), Laura Kraut (USA), Ben Maher (GBR), Patrice Delaveau (FRA) and Harrie Smolders (NED) are just a selection of the world class names that head to the diamond district, showcasing the high calibre of competition on the world’s premier show jumping series. So far the Tour has seen spectacular events in Miami Beach and the inaugural Mexico City, with nail-biting action that left audiences on the edge of their seats around the globe.
With the bar being raised ever higher each season, there will be no room for error as the 2016 Championship battle picks up pace. Leading riders from France, Germany, Switzerland, the United States, Ireland and Qatar will be represented along with top names from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Sweden, Portugal, Spain and the UK.
The CSI5* action will kick off at 20:50 local time on Thursday 21st April, with the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Antwerp taking place on Saturday 23rd April at 18:45 local time. Sunday will see the third round of the exhilarating new Global Champions League team competition get underway.
Press Release by LGCT
Photo Credit : Steffano Grasso / LGCT