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Endurance
Longines’ involvement
The endurance event first became a competitive sport in the 1950s, and was introduced to Europe in the following decade. In 1982, the Fédération Equestre Internationale (International Federation for Equestrian Sports) recognised the endurance riding as an official discipline. Thus, the number of participating countries has continually risen until today. This discipline reflects many of Longines’ values : elegance, accuracy, reliability and a perfect mastery of technology.

In this sport, Longines is the Partner and Official Timekeeper of the prestigious HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup since 2010. This competition is a CEI*** (Compétition d’Endurance Internationale [International Endurance Competition]) open to horses aged seven years and over, and takes place in early January at the Dubai International Endurance City. It is run over a distance of 160 km. On 7 January 2017, Humaid Matar Rashed Al Mazrooei won the HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Endurance Cup presented by Longines and organised by the Dubai Equestrian Club. Some of the biggest names in the world of endurance came together to compete in this international event.

Longines was also committed to the Euston Park Endurance rides as Official Timekeeper and Official Watch in 2017. This competition includes 80, 120 and 160 kilometers rides and offers the opportunity for top riders and horses from all over the world to compete at the stunning Suffolk venue, in the east of England.
FEI World Equestrian Games™
Tryon welcomes the world
Excitement is rapidly building ahead of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ which will be staged at Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina (USA) from 11 to 23 September 2018. This will be the eighth edition of the major fixture, and world titles will be contested in eight different disciplines. The Tryon team were only awarded the Games in November 2016, so the lead-in period has been very short indeed, but the brand new 1,600-acre venue in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is expected to provide an extraordinary two weeks of outstanding sport, and Longines is the Official Timekeeper of the event.
Staged every four years, halfway between summer Olympics, the FEI World Equestrian Games™ has become a trademark platform for international equestrian sport. During the 22-year presidency of HRH Prince Philip the idea of combining world championships was regularly discussed by the FEI, but it was not until 1990, when his daughter The Princess Royal was at the helm, that the Games became a reality. The first edition, staged in Stockholm, Sweden in 1990, was a great success but when it moved to The Hague in The Netherlands four years later it was marred by organisational and financial problems. So when Ireland withdrew late in the day after a successful bid to stage the third Games in 1998, then it seemed the future of the concept could be in jeopardy. Italy stepped forward however, and even though the organisers had only a year to prepare for such an enormous project, the Games presented in Rome were nothing short of a triumph.

Jerez was the next venue in 2002, and the Spanish city did itself proud. Local government weighed in with significant support and it was a great success. And that was followed by the phenomenal event in Aachen, Germany four years later which attracted 576,000 spectators, and media coverage on an unprecedented scale. The Games then crossed the Atlantic, to Kentucky in the USA, in 2010 where Para-Equestrian Dressage joined the programme alongside Dressage, Driving, Endurance, Eventing, Jumping, Reining and Vaulting. For the first time all eight disciplines were staged in the same location, the Kentucky Horse Park. In contrast the 2014 Games in Normandy, France saw action taking place at seven different locations, yet it attracted another record audience and was an unforgettable sporting spectacle. The ever-increasing popularity of the Games, and the development of equestrian sport worldwide, was underlined by a 25 % increase in the number of nations taking part. Over 15 days of thrilling competition, 884 athletes from 74 countries, including 12 nations making their FEI World Equestrian Games™ debut, took part. The Normandy Games attracted more than 500,000 on-site spectators and a worldwide television audience of 350 million, as well as delivering an economic impact of € 368 million to the French economy.

Bromont in Canada was awarded the 2018 Games but withdrew last summer, and that was when Team Tryon stepped up to the plate with a bid that was accepted in November 2016. The only major adjustment required was a change from the original dates (12-26 August) following two scientific studies commissioned by the FEI which stated that climatic conditions would be significantly more favourable in North Carolina during September, particularly from a horse welfare perspective. FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 CEO, Mark Bellissimo, says he wants “ to make Tryon the Aachen of North America ”, an audacious undertaking but one he is determined to execute. Mr. Bellissimo has considerable experience in the management and development of equestrian venues and facilities in the US. Together with his business partners he operates the hugely successful Palm Beach International Equestrian Centre located in Wellington, Florida, The Colorado Horse Park which is situated in Parker, Colorado, and the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina.

The $ 175 million Tryon International Equestrian Center was still a greenfield site in 2014 but today boasts 12 all-weather arenas including a floodlit international ring with a potential spectator seating capacity of up to 12,000 and VIP seating for up to 1,500, a covered arena with 5,000 seats, and a world-class cross country course that will be used for both Eventing and Driving. The venue is surrounded by hundreds of miles of equestrian trails for Endurance and has excellent facilities for athletes and spectators including restaurants, hospitality, accommodation, retail and resort amenities.

A state-of-the-art veterinary facility was already under construction when FEI President, Ingmar de Vos, announced the re-allocation of the Games. “ It’s a truly spectacular venue and almost all the necessary infrastructure for our eight disciplines is already in place. We are looking forward to a fantastic celebration of top level sport as all the disciplines come together to crown their world champions … ” he said. Mark Bellissimo pointed out : “ It’s a really great fit for The Carolinas Equestrian heritage and we look forward to working closely with the FEI and with the USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) to produce fabulous FEI World Equestrian GamesTM in 2018. ” Longines is proud to be the Official Timekeeper of the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018.[Daphne Deschamps]
The $ 175 million Tryon International Equestrian Center was still a greenfield site in 2014 but today boasts 12 all-weather arenas including a floodlit international ring with a potential spectator seating capacity of up to 12,000 and VIP seating for up to 1,500, a covered arena with 5,000 seats, and a world-class cross country course that will be used for both Eventing and Driving.
Eventing
History is made at Europeans in Strzegom
Records were broken, history was made and neither gold medals were won by the favourites at the FEI European Eventing Championships last August. The 33rd running of this contest was held on Polish soil for the very first time, in Strzegom, with Longines the Official Timekeeper - and what a glorious four days of competition it was.
Kicking off with a horse inspection on Wednesday, two days of dressage followed and then the cross-country phase, before Sunday’s second horse inspection with show jumping finale. A total of 77 horses and riders came forward to compete and 19 European countries were represented. In the closing stages, Great Britain regained their place on the top step of the European podium for the first time in eight years - their previous team gold at this level came at Fontainebleau in 2009 - while Germany’s Ingrid Klimke, a lynchpin of her country’s imperious European gold run which started way back in 2011, secured her first-ever individual title at the age of 49.

It was an emotional moment for her, and she could barely hold back the tears when accepting her shiny gold medal. “ I’ve been in the team for so many medals and I’ve always wanted to have an individual title. It’s good to have something to aim for and I’m so happy to have finally done it, ” said Ingrid. Germany took team silver, ahead of Sweden who claimed bronze. The former’s journey to second place involved setting two new records: Germany’s collective dressage score of 87.7 put them 24.1 penalties ahead of the French at this stage, while Bettina Hoy (Seigneur Medicott)’s individual first-phase mark of 24.6 is the best ever seen at this level.

In fact there has only been one dressage mark better than this recorded and that too was achieved by Bettina, who still holds the world record for her score of 20.8 at the FEI World Equestrian GamesTM in 2002. However, the German rider’s place at the top of the leaderboard was short lived as she was eliminated for a horse fall at fence 10 (Betgran Table) on the Rudiger Schwarz-designed cross-country track, causing Germany to lose its grip on team gold. There were celebrations all round in the third-placed Swedish camp when they became the only nation with all four team members recording a final score.
“ We came here to win a medal and I’m happy that that is what we’ve done, ” said Niklas Lindbäck, 14th individually on Focus Filiocus. “ I have competed in Strzegom before and so I am familiar with the layout and twisty cross-country course. I always enjoy riding here because it’s a beautiful setting and the venue is constantly improving. ” Team Italy finished some way off the pace in fourth, ahead of the Irish in fifth. The reigning Olympic champions, France, came to Strzegom as one of the favourites to take team gold but the French quartet proved luckless on cross-country day : two team members were eliminated and one finished with penalties for two cross-country refusals to add.
Individual 10th for Thibaut Vallette riding Qing Du Briot ENE HN was the best placing France could muster. In individual ranks, Germany’s Michael Jung arrived as the defending European champion and few would bet against him taking the title aboard his Kentucky CCI4* winner FischerRocana FST. But Ingrid Klimke edged ahead of him on dressage day and he couldn’t catch her, leaving Michael to settle for individual silver. Britain’s Nicola Wilson took bronze - her first individual medal - ahead of her compatriots Tina Cook (Billy The Red) and Ros Canter (Allstar B) in fourth and fifth respectively.
“ What a week. I’m just so proud of my horse and the team, ” said Nicola. “ I’ve really enjoyed competing in Poland. It is a compact venue and the cross-country course was a strong test but the British horses have been on great form and I’m very happy to be taking home two medals. ”
The host nation fielded five riders and their team goal, according to chef d’équipe Andreas Dibowski - a former Olympic team gold medallist for Germany - was to post a finishing score. They achieved that, Mariusz Kleniuk (Winona), Mateusz Kiempa (Grand Supreme) and Pawel Warszawski (Fuksja) pulling off 11th place. Their highest placed - and by far most experienced - rider after cross-country was Pawel Spisak, a veteran of four Olympic games, but his mount, Banderas, was not accepted by the ground jury at the final horse inspection on Sunday morning when lying 11th.
“ It is a great honour that the FEI gave Poland the championships to organise, ” said Mateusz whose country’s last - and only - European medal was team bronze in Denmark in 1981. “ The Polish national federation has invested in its equestrian teams and with the opportunity to train with Andreas, there are better and more riders and horses coming through. I hope it means Poland will compete as a team more often in the future. ” Teams consist of four horses and riders in total, with three of them having to finish in order to record a team score. Each team’s top three individual marks count in each phase.
“ I gave my riders instructions for the trickier cross-country fences because some are not experienced at this level, but then it was up to them to ride their horses as they know works best for them, ” said Andreas. “ Riding in front of a cheering home crowd is a great achievement and I’m proud of what they’ve done. ” Event director Marcin Konarski said hosting a European Championships had been “ a huge organisational challenge ”, but all riders agreed that a successful competition had been held.
“ This is a venue that holds a lot of competitions, but the Europeans are a bit different and the standard needed to be a bit higher, ” said technical advisor Giuseppe Della Chiesa. “ It’s a modern venue because it is so compact and in a beautiful area. It is very good for the public because there’s a lot of visibility and they can see all the action. ”
The European batten now passes to Germany, with the 2019 championships taking place in Luhmühlen. Has this year's victory in Poland kick-started another golden run for team Great Britain, the nation with an unprecedented 23 European gold medals to its name? We’ll have to wait two years to find out. [Aimi Clark]





Dressage, Driving & Jumping
Golden week of super sport at Longines FEI European Championships in Gothenburg
You could hardly have scripted it better, with a week-long feast of fabulous equestrian sport at the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 in Gothenburg, Sweden brought a close by a breath-taking victory for the host nation. The crowd at Ullevi Stadium in the heart of the city let out an emotional roar as Peder Fredricson galloped through the finish with his brilliant horse, H&M All In, to claim the last gold medal of a most extraordinary tournament. European Championships in various disciplines are staged every two years, sometimes as stand-alone events and on other occasions in combination with others. At the Longines FEI European Championships 2017 there were medals on offer in four different sports - Dressage, Driving, Jumping and Para-Dressage - and from the outset it was clear that the dual-venue setting, with Para-Dressage and Driving taking place at the nearby fairground at Heden, and Ullevi the focal point for Dressage and Jumping, was going to work a treat. A total of 231 athletes and 310 horses from 30 countries lined out at the phenomenal seven-day fixture. And no-one could have anticipated the enthusiasm of the people of Gothenburg who poured into the public park at Slottsskogen for the obstacle phase of the Driving marathon that saw carriages passing through the busy streets on the penultimate afternoon. The entire event was a triumph for Longines as Title Partner, Official Timekeeper and Official Watch, and for the Organising Committee and Show Director Tomas Torgersen, who worked closely with the city authorities to present a completely unique and thoroughly enjoyable event.

It all kicked off with Para-Dressage in which Great Britain and The Netherlands each claimed double-gold on the opening day while Austria’s Pepo Puch (Fontainenoir) topped Grade ll. Frank Hosmar (Alphaville N.O.P.) won Grade V for The Netherlands, pipping Sophie Wells GBR (C Fatal Attraction) while Dutch compatriot Sanne Voets (Demantur) scooped gold in Grade IV. Britain’s Suzanna Hext and her “ horse of a lifetime ”, Abira, came out on top in Grade lll, but it was her fellow-countrywoman Julie Payne who posted the biggest winning margin when topping the podium in Grade I. “ That is one of the best feelings I have ever had ! ” said the 55-year-old rider whose mare, Athene Lindebjerg, won triple gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games with another Briton, Sophie Christiansen, on board. And Payne wasn’t done yet. The following day another brilliant score helped secure the team title for Great Britain, with Denmark finishing a close second in silver medal spot and The Netherlands claiming the bronze. The courage and tenacity of para-athletes was epitomised by Payne who had to push her body to the limit. “ I was saying to my legs ‘work’, they were saying ‘I don’t want to ! ”, the British rider said. Thanks to scores of 73.581 % from nine-time major championship rider Sophie Wells and 72.088 % from Grade III individual gold medallist Suzanna Hext, the British triumphed by a margin of just 3.425 % over the Danes. And it was all about the main protagonists once again on the final day of Freestyle, with Payne, Wells and Hext posting a British hat-trick while Susanne Jensby Sunesen and Stinna Tange Kaastrup did a Danish double. At just 23 years of age Kaastrup is already something of a legend, and the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist produced one of the highest marks of the Championships when scoring 77.06 with Horsebo Smarties to win Grade II. However it was Payne who stole the spotlight with three rides, three gold medals and the three highest scores of the week. “ I’ve certainly had more than my 15 minutes of fame ! ” she said.

The Dressage Championships were intriguing, with the reigning Olympic champions from Germany claiming their 23rd European team title and Rio 2016 individual silver medallist, Isabell Werth, posting a hat-trick of golden moments with the fabulous mare Weihegold. However team-mate Sönke Rothenberger, Longines Rising Star 2016, stole plenty of Werth’s limelight as he threw down a major challenge throughout the week with Cosmo. It began when he followed Helen Langehanenberg (Damsey FRH) and Dorothee Schneider (Sammy Davis Jr.) to clinch victory in the team event with a great score, even before Werth came into the ring. Last to go, it was only a matter of putting the icing on the German cake as Werth swaggered her way through a lovely test that demoted Rothenberger to runner-up spot in the individual rankings while Denmark’s Dufour finished third. The Danes won through in a fierce battle with their Swedish neighbours for team silver and bronze, that result finally decided by Dufour’s special performance with the 14-year-old Atterupgaards Cassidy which she has partnered since her Junior years.

After the Grand Prix Special the following day, silver medallist Rothenberger (23) joked that his age combined with bronze medallist Dufour’s (25) matched Werth’s (48). But youth had to wait for its day once again as the most medalled athlete in the history of international equestrian sport reigned supreme once more. “ Weihe is in the best form ever ! It was a clear test without mistakes and with a lot of precision, so I’m completely happy ! ” Werth said after posting 82.613 for victory. Rothenberger was only fractionally behind with a score of 82.479. “ I watch the best riders and I steal with my eyes ! ” said the ambitious young man. “ We are getting closer and closer, but we are not quite there yet ! ” he added. They were very nearly there on the final day when they posted a massive 90.614 in the Freestyle to really put it up to Werth, but this is a lady who thrives on pressure. “ Weihe was as good as she could be, it was her best test so I was happy and hoping it would be enough - and it was ! ” she said, after edging in front by just 0.368 marks. Denmark’s Dufour took bronze, and all three medallists produced personal-best Freestyle scores. It was double-Dutch gold in Driving which more than lived up to expectations. In one of the closest finishes in recent history, The Netherlands held off a resurgent German trio and a fighting Belgian side to claim their fourth successive team title while Ijsbrand Chardon took the individual honours.
Belgian young guns Edouard Simonet, Dries Degrieck and Glenn Geerts made a huge impression and Simonet claimed individual silver ahead of Germany’s Christoph Sandmann in bronze. It was a tightly-packed leaderboard after the dressage phase, but the Dutch already had the whip hand with Theo Timmerman in pole position individually ahead of Chardon, while Simonet lay third. A protege of four-time World Champion Boyd Exell from Australia whose influence was keenly felt throughout these championships as he trained the German team and even provided team-member, Georg von Stein, with two of his horses, 27-year-old Simonet was always tipped for a medal. Everyone wondered how Marathon day would go, with the jingle of harness and the sound of clattering hooves ringing through the city streets.

“ This is something special, once or twice in your life you have something like this. They had it in Stockholm in ‘88, it was great, and they do it again in Sweden. You don’t find it anywhere else where they do it like this. I can’t wait to see how many people will be there ! ” said Timmerman. He wouldn’t be disappointed by the numbers, with a massive 35,000 spectators turning up to see the action at Slottsskogen, but he lost the lead to team-mate Chardon, while Swiss motor mechanic, Jérôme Voutaz, rocketed up the leaderboard when winning this phase. The Dutch team stood firm however to win through on the final day of Cones, with all three drivers finishing inside the top six individual positions, pinning Germany into silver but by only a nine-point margin. And the Belgians had to see off a spirited run from the French for bronze. The sport of Driving was a huge hit with the public. As world number one Boyd Exell said : “ It was like a rock concert out there ! ”

From beginning to end, the Jumping Championships were epic. Enter stage left a hungry Irish side that is one man down after the first day but fights heroically to take the team title, and enter stage right the man who took individual Olympic silver for Sweden 12 months earlier and who, under near-unbearable pressure, takes European individual gold for the host nation with the very last ride of the event, and you have a perfect piece of sporting theatre. Home hopes were high as Sweden led the way ahead of Switzerland while Ireland and Belgium were tied for bronze going into the final evening of the team competition. But over a long and testing 14-fence track, and under lights for the first time, the boys in green were the only ones to keep a completely clean sheet. The loss of their young star Bertram Allen who took a fall from his brilliant stallion, Hector van d’Abdijhoeve, two days earlier put them under extreme pressure, but as anchor rider Cian O’Connor (Good Luck) explained, they were never going to give up without a fight.
“ We thought the lights might work to our advantage, be a bit spooky and might catch out some horses, ” O’Connor said. And he was right, the Swedes losing their grip when Malin Baryard-Johnsson’s Cue Channa took fright and was eliminated forcing her side to count nine faults from Douglas Lindelöw, while Martin Fuchs was the only member of the Swiss team to stay clear. Shane Sweetnam was the first of the Irish to go clear with Chaqui Z followed by Denis Lynch and All Star. O’Connor punched the air as he sealed only the second ever Irish team victory in the 60-year history of these Championships. “ I don’t even remember the round, it was all kind of a blur. But I do remember going through the finish ! ” he said. And there was still plenty more excitement to come. Sweden’s Peder Fredricson and H&M All In led the way into the individual final without touching a pole, and another clear in the first round of the closing competition maintained his advantage. But only 2.25 points separated him from O’Connor as the second and deciding round began while The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders (Don VHP Z) was lying third with 5.52 points on the scoreboard. Second-last to go, O’Connor’s single mistake allowed the Dutchman to edge ahead of him, so Smolders was now the man that Fredricson had to beat. The Swede had a fence in hand as he set off, but there was a gasp of horror from the crowd when All In hit the middle element of the triple combination. Fredricson didn’t flinch however, adding only one further time penalty to finish on a final tally of five, holding on for gold just 0.52 ahead of Smolders while O’Connor claimed the bronze. It was the dream end to an amazing week. [Daphne Deschamps]
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