January 17, 2017 – After Los Angeles and Paris, the Longines Masters continues its journey to Asia, in Hong Kong, where the second season will come to a thrilling close the weekend of February 10 to 12th at the AsiaWorld-Expo.
Now into its fifth sensational year, the Asian leg of the Longines Masters is a major ‘must-go’ sporting and social event and promises a unique experience combining spectacular sporting action, the world’s best riders and horses, luxury lifestyle, and entertainment under one roof.
Once again, the top of the FEI’s ranking list will be present, alongside local star, Jacqueline Lai. A member of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Equestrian Team, the 2009 Chinese champion rocked the stands every time she appeared in the ring last year. With the public firmly behind her, she is clearly a rider to watch throughout the weekend.
The three-day program is filled with not-to-be-missed shows and performances, including some new exciting features that will be appearing on the program for the first time!
Session 1 & 2 – Local colors will be flying high right from the start on Friday. At the opening evening with the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy presented by the Founding Partner, the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the evening’s highlight for Masters Riders, followed by the extremely popular “HKJC Race of the Riders”.
For this third edition, the unique competition features leading Hong Kong jockeys paired with four of the best international riders in a spectacular relay over a show jumping course. Taking to the spotlight will be the “Magic Man” – and reigning Hong Kong champion – Joao Moreira, alongside star Irish jockey Neil Callan, and leading local riders Derek Leung and Vincent Ho. The singular contest is a chance for jockeys to demonstrate their horsemanship beyond the racetrack with thrilling displays that earn standing ovations in each round.
Session 3 & 4 – Saturday, the future of equestrian sports in Asia will be in the spotlight with a brand-new class: the Hong Kong Junior Challenge. The young local riders — all members of the Junior Equestrian Training Squad (JETS) created in 2008 by the Hong Kong Jockey Club — get the chance to ride in one of the most beautiful rings on the international indoor circuit and show their home crowd just what makes them rising stars in the discipline. The Table A class not against the clock will be judged by Australian champion, Edwina Tops-Alexander, who will evaluate each participant and announce the final ranking.
This will be followed with one of the most thrilling competition of the weekend, the Longines Speed Challenge, considered a veritable world championship, crowning the fastest rider competing in the event that span the three continents of the Longines Masters.
Faults are penalized less than in other competitions – 2 seconds instead of 4 – which pushes the riders to give it their all and creates a never-before-seen atmosphere in this sport. Designed by the “Maestro” Uliano Vezzani, the course is the same for all three legs of the Longines Masters, allowing riders a unique opportunity to improve their skills in the hope of becoming the fastest rider in the world!
Team Gold Medalist from France Kevin Staut will definitely be the rider that audiences are watching closely in Hong Kong! He has had an amazing season in the event, coming in second in Los Angeles and winning in Paris. He’ll be vying with last year’s winner, Irish wunderkind Bertram Allen and many others for an epic showdown!
The finale of Saturday night will be a performance by equestrian artist and natural horsemanship master, Santi Serra.
Session 5 – For the third and final day of competition, the Masters Riders will set the tone in the morning with a speed class, in preparation for the highlight of the weekend later in the afternoon the Longines Grand Prix. The ring will then be handed over to the JETS for the HKJC Junior Trophy, an opportunity for these young riders to take part in a real Grand Prix over two rounds and enjoy the warmth of a home crowd who will give each rider a standing ovation.
Then it’s over to the highlight of the weekend, the Longines Grand Prix. An Olympic-level class with a course featuring jumps up to 1.60m in height, the Longines Grand Prix will require perfectly trained horses and experienced riders to succeed on the course full of tough sequences and double and triple combinations, designed by Uliano Vezzani.
Last year, Germany’s Marco Kutscher left his mark on the history of the Longines Masters, when he became the first rider to scoop the €250,000 Super Bonus with wins in Los Angeles and Hong Kong. This year, following his victory in Paris, Belgium’s Gregory Wathelet is in the running for the Grand Slam Bonus of a million euros that will be his if he also wins in Hong Kong and Los Angeles.
He won’t be the only world star looking to defend his interests because the number one and two riders on the Longines FEI world rankings have already confirmed their presence in Hong Kong, as have other big names. The final leg of the second season has certainly got some great moments in store.
Beyond the Competition – New this year, among other things, is the “Equestrian Experience” area, created for horse riding fans as well as new visitors looking to find out about the latest collections of equestrian equipment and the world of riding.
A “Kids Area” has been specially designed to get the younger generation interested in equestrian sports, and includes a mini obstacle course as well as other games and activities.