Show-jumping stars ready for Shanghai challenge

More than 60 world-class riders and their 111 horses are gathering in Shanghai this week for the 2018 Shanghai Longines Global Champions Tour at the weekend.

Shanghai is hosting the five-star show-jumping event for the fifth year.

Less than a week after Formula 1 hit town for the Chinese Grand Prix, sports fans will be treated to a very different display of horsepower.

More than 60 world-class riders and their 111 horses are gathering in Shanghai this week for the 2018 Shanghai Longines Global Champions Tour, with some challenging the highest 1.6-meter obstacle during the three-day event.

The Shanghai leg of the five-star show-jumping event will be held from April 20 to 22 at a makeshift venue in front of the China Art Museum in the Pudong New Area. It’s the third stop in this year’s 17-event tour after Mexico City and Miami Beach.

Two-time LGCT champions Scott Brash from Britain and Edwina Tops-Alexander from Australia will be back in the city, both hoping to keep their dream of a historic third win alive.

Olympic gold medalist Brash leads the charge in the overall rankings, with Tops-Alexander 13 points behind. As winners of the previous two legs, both riders have qualified for the Longines Global Champions Super Grand Prix which will take place at the newly introduced GC Prague Play Offs in the Czech Republic’s capital this December.

The Shanghai weekend could be a game-changer with reigning LGCT champion Harrie Smolders making his return to the competition. The in-form Dutchman is bringing top stallion Don VHP Z as a clear sign of intent. Smolders won gold at the LGCT Grand Prix of Shanghai in 2015.

The 2017 LGCT Grand Prix of Shanghai winner Lorenzo de Luca from Italy returns for a second bite of the apple, as will top French rider Simon Delestre who has a history of success in Shanghai. John Whitaker from Britain will return to the championship, alongside multiple Olympian Ludger Beerbaum from Germany who is making a return following timeout from injury last year.

Jur Vrieling (NED), Michael Whitaker (GBR), Daniel Deusser (GER), Christian Ahlmann (GER), Alberto Zorzi (ITA), Ben Maher (GBR), Gregory Wathelet (BEL), Pius Schwizer (SUI), Marlon Zanotelli (BRA), Roger-Yves Bost (FRA) and Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) are just a few of the names in action over the weekend.

There will be four Chinese entries — Wang Yunjing, Yuan Maodong, Zhang Xingjia and Raena Leung — who have the rare chance to compete against and learn from the world’s best riders.

Leung from Hong Kong will enter the Shanghai event as a wild card holder for the third straight year. She finished sixth in the 1.45-1.50-meter class in 2016, and challenged the highest 1.6-meter obstacle last year.


It will be the third appearance for Raena Leung from Hong Kong.

Shanghai will also provide a platform for many of the world’s rising stars. Fresh from her Global Champions League Miami Beach win, U25 rider Anna Kellnerova from the Czech Republic will head to China, alongside Constant van Paesschen (BEL), Emily Moffitt (GBR), Jos Verlooy (BEL), Alexandra Thornton (GBR) and Philip Houston (GER).

China’s mainland is not a member of the International Equestrian Federation. But Shanghai has an agreement with the agriculture committee of the European Union, which declares Shanghai a temporary non-epidemic area for a certain period every year to ensure the event goes ahead.

Shanghai Customs set a fast channel for the horses this year. The horses were transported straight to the venue after arriving at the Pudong International Airport from Belgium. The declaration procedure for the animals and fodder was then taken by Customs staff at the venue.

The measure was introduced to cut the time needed at the airport so that the animals would not be irritated during the Customs procedure and get better rest before the competition.

Dong Jun / SHINE

The first batch of 45 competing horses arrived in Shanghai on April 15. Shanghai Customs set up a fast-track channel this year to clear the horse at the earliest.

Also, temporary roofs have been added to all the stands this year to provide a more comfortable environment for spectators.

Previously, only the VIP stand was covered. To avoid direct sun exposure and possible rain, spectators in other stands would use umbrellas, obstructing the view of those behind them, and possibly affecting the performance of the horses. The new roofs are expected to solve those problems.

It will be the fifth year for the elite show-jumping event to land in Shanghai, a stop also known for its rich and colorful venue-side activities.

A “French Town” market will be set up this year for spectators.

Taiwan actress and model Lin Chi-ling will show up on April 21 to promote the event. Traffic safety courses and games will be organized for children.

A Sino-Europe Equine Industry Exchange Seminar will also be held.


Crazy and decorative hats are a feature of the annual Shanghai Longines Global Champions Tour.

Temporary roofs have been added to all the stands to provide a more comfortable viewing environment.

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