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Shanghai's back in the saddle

With a stunning new venue, and 22,000 passionate fans, elite equestrian action returns after five-year hiatus

By LI YINGXUE | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-07 08:57
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After a lengthy five-year hiatus, the renowned Longines Global Champions Tour returns to Shanghai for the fourth leg of the 2024 circuit. With a brand-new venue, nighttime competitions and notable riders from the world of elite equestrianism competing for the Grand Prix, the tournament was a popular destination during the recent Labor Day holiday. CHINA DAILY

After a lengthy five-year hiatus, the renowned Longines Global Champions Tour galloped back into Shanghai for the fourth leg of its 2024 circuit, marking a significant return to China and its many equestrian enthusiasts.

From May 3 to 5, a brand-new venue witnessed a staggering turnout of over 22,000 spectators. Attendees were entranced by the symbiotic relationship between rider and horse, the rhythmic beating of hooves and the subtle murmurs of instruction given to their steeds by the riders.

The three-day elite show jumping competition, held at the Shanghai Juss International Equestrian Centre, boasted the presence of esteemed figures, including Olympic and world champions.

In the pinnacle event of the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix in Shanghai, 25-year-old Belgian rider Gilles Thomas clinched victory aboard Luna van het Dennehof.

"It's my first Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix win, that's something I'll always remember. I have never been to Shanghai before, but I must say, this is one of the best global shows of the whole year," Thomas said.

Sunday's competition unfolded dramatically as Thomas, the first to ride, completed the course flawlessly, setting a high bar for his rivals. Subsequent riders struggled, hitting the poles and registering errors, failing to close the gap with the Belgian.

Reflecting on his victory, Thomas remarked that, initially, he wasn't optimistic about his starting position, as it left little time to prepare. "However, it was my lucky day," he concluded.

With this win, Thomas has also secured his first-ever Golden Ticket to the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Playoffs in Riyadh, set to take place in November.

"It is great to qualify so early in the year so I can plan my season around it. It is a class everyone wants to be in, so I couldn't be happier," he said.

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