I wrote previously about the first night of the Longines Global Champions Tour in Monaco, but we had the second night to come — the Grand Prix, which promised virtuoso horse skills, and a huge payday for the winning rider. It’s competed over two rounds: the first as a Jump-Off, and the 2nd an utterly thrilling Round Against the Clock
Above are myself and my lovely friend Susanne Madsen of The Horse Rider’s Journal in the ring. (It’s quite tricky trotting around a sand filled show jumping ring in Valentino kitten heels. Clever Susanne brought along her Underground creepers. She’s wearing Pucci, and I’m in the Rory Beca Keala Dress, £179 that I wore to host Shopbop’s London Fashion Week party last September.)
The setting by Port Hercule, in the Monte Carlo harbour, was quite extraordinary, on a still, warm evening,
We arrived early enough to watch the riders competing in the Grand Prix warming up in the practice arena.
Here’s Gucci-sponsored Edwina Tops-Alexander warming up.
It was truly a privilege to watch such extraordinary horses and their riders in the ring.
Then we convened for supper in the VIP loge at the far end of the showjumping arena
which gave an extraordinary view right over the fences. We discovered from SMS received during dinner that we were all on Eurosport during the Grand Prix, as we were directly in the sight of one of the live TV cameras, covering the HSBC jump to the left. It was the fence that sorted out the sheep from the goats: something about spooked the horses, and very few riders made it through unscathed to the second round.
Then we got the call to walk the course: between the first round and the jump off the fences are rearranged, and the riders carefully measure the strides between each fence, and check their height. As guests of the sponsors, we were given exclusive access to see the fences up close.
Here we are waiting to go into the ring. Me (L), photographer Michael Hemy (M), Amy Benbow-Ebert from Longines ( R)
One side of the ring is open access to the general public. It really is chastening to stand by the fences and see how high they are: I am 5’6″ and they were nearly the same height.
The jump off fences, ready for round two..
Richard Spooner of the USA took first place on Cristallo, and partisan me was thrilled to see William Funnell (UK) on Billy Congo come in second, with Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander on Guccio in third place.
A huge thank you to everyone at Longines and to UK PR Director Amy for inviting Susanne, Michael and me, and for organising such a seamless and interesting trip.