Crowds are already forming around the competition arena boundaries, eager to see the fantastic equine athletes here to compete in the first round of the 2015 Longines Global Champions Tour season in Miami Beach, Florida, as they train in the afternoon sunshine. The first day of the Longines Global Champions Tour beckons as tomorrow, world-class horses and riders will take to the spectacular and unique ocean-side arena for the first time to battle it out for top prizes and renowned accolades, such as the prestigious Longines GCT Grand Prix and American Invitational.
The event was officially launched today at a press conference hosted by the stunning, newly-opened 1 Hotel South Beach, the Official Hotel Partner for the event. The press conference was attended by Tour President Jan Tops, Mayor Philip Levine, former Tour Champion Edwina Tops-Alexander, U.S. rising star Jessica Springsteen and defending Tour Champion Scott Brash.
The whole event will be broadcast live on globalchampionstour.com via GCT TV. The Longines GCT Grand Prix will also be shown on Eurosport and beIN Sports, with NBC Sports Network showing highlights from the American Invitational on Saturday 4th April at from 2pm - 3pm and highlights from the very first Longines GCT Grand Prix of the season, round one of the exciting 2015 Championship, on Sunday 5th April 3.30pm - 4.30pm.
Jan Tops - President Longines Global Champions Tour
Philip Levine - Mayor of Miami Beach Philip Levine
Scott Brash - World No1 show jumper
Edwina Tops-Alexander - 2011 & 2012 Longines GCT Champion
Jessica Springsteen - rising star of US showjumping
Scott Brash - "I don't know if I can make it three (Championship) wins, you have to have a fantastic team of horses and be consistent throughout the year. It's really hard, but to kick off in Miami Beach is incredible. I have said it before, but I will say it again, Jan and his team have done an unbelievable job to bring the sport to such a high level. It's getting bigger and better every year and it's going to continue to do so. There are two new shows this year and to be in Miami Beach in front of the sea is going to be amazing. For sure, the Tour is nearly my first focus because it's such great prize money and we jump in fantastic venues and everyone wants to compete on the Tour. It’s getting a worldwide following, worldwide TV coverage, it's getting bigger and better, and being talked about along-side tennis and golf is incredible, and us athletes are very privileged to be a part of it right now."
Jessica Springsteen - "It’s incredible to have the Tour come to U.S. shores. I remember my first time riding on the Tour, four or five years ago and I was in awe of how amazing and well done they are, the footing is always perfect and they run so smoothly. I am really excited to be competing and I know all the American riders are thrilled. It's exciting, it was time for the Tour to come to the U.S. In Europe there is such a great educated crowd and the sport is so well known, it’s going to be exciting to have a show that high quality in the States and I hope it will have the same energy to it. I am done with school, so I will be competing on some of the earlier rounds in Europe as well which I am really excited about."
Edwina Tops-Alexander - “I have only missed one GCT event in the last ten years. It’s unbelievable to be here, it’s special, we’ve never had another show like this anywhere in the world, right on the beach. I said to Jan, “I don't really feel like I am at a horse show!”. We have a great mix of lifestyle and sport here, and for the riders to be here to enjoy it at the beautiful 1 Hotel, South Beach. For the horses, we have gone from indoor competitions to outdoor and they travelled very well here. The set-up and organisation has been amazing and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun this week. It's such a unique setting, the horses feel very comfortable in the arena. During the day we have great breeze so it's not too hot for the horses. We are really looking forward to getting started."
Jan Tops - "For us it's a great pleasure, thank you to the Mayor for having us. We started 10 years ago in the United States in Wellington and for us it was very important to be back in the U.S. It’s a great horse nation, great riders, great history, and competitors from the U.S. compete with us over the years at our events. A place like Miami Beach is a fantastic start to the season - it's the right place with fantastic weather, so it's fantastic for us to start here. We are very diverse, we have small arenas and big arenas, that's the special thing about the Tour we have a big variety of locations. We have the best riders, like Scott who has been a Champion for two years (2013 and 2014), you have to be a great rider to win the championships, that's what makes the season such a fantastic competition. My team have worked really hard. To come to a city like this for the first time bringing the horses over and with all the work behind the scenes, they did an incredible job. We know now what to expect so next time it will be easier - it’s a great achievement.”
Philip Levine - “First of all we a are very happy to have all of you here, this is very exciting Miami Beach welcomes the Tour, the horses, the riders. We have many things that happen on the beach and having this horse jumping is one more incredible experience for everyone to enjoy - it matches what we're about, we're a centre for creative collaboration. We would like to congratulate you on your 10th year and of course we hope to see you celebrate your 20th year and your 30th year, here for as long as you can. We just celebrated a very special centennial, we turned 100 last Thursday and we has a big great concert. I welcome all of you and your organistation. I’m going to come by on Friday and get a chance to enjoy the great show.”