The popular Longines Masters Series officially got underway at the Longines Masters of Paris, with a historic hat-trick win on home soil for Riders Europe over Riders USA in the third installment of the innovative Riders Masters Cup on Saturday, December 1. The Riders Masters Cup will continue at the Longines Masters of New York, held at NYCB Live, Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, on April 25-28, 2019.
After winning the inaugural Riders Masters Cup during the 2017 edition of the Longines Masters of Paris and then again at the first Longines Masters of New York in April 2018, Riders Europe rode their hot streak to another win in front of an electric crowd in the French capital city. Decorated riders including Eduardo Alvarez Aznar, Edward Levy, Harry Charles, Maikel Van Der Vleuten, and Daniel Deusser dominated the first round of head-to-head duels with four wins.
USA’s Jessica Springsteen earned the lone victory in the first round for her team, but inspired her teammates – Taylor Alexander, McLain Ward, Laura Kraut, and Lucas Porter, captained by U.S. Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland – to mount a comeback in the speed portion, in which victory was worth double points. The score stood at 45 to 30 at the half before Kraut and Porter bested Van Der Vleuten and Charles by fractions of a second over the speed track. Riders USA crept into the lead, but Spanish Olympian Aznar, Italian team member Levy, and German Olympic team bronze medalist Deusser were quick to answer the call by winning their matches and securing Riders Europe the title.
"The Americans tried to trick us and changed the starting order we had decided in the beginning at the very last minute," said Riders Europe Captain and French Chef d'Equipe Philippe Guerdat. “Things got a bit tense after the second duel that we lost by one tenth of a second. The Riders USA even took the lead for a while. They fought a good battle. But all is well that ends well.”
Both Porter, 21, and Charles, 19, made their debut in Riders Masters Cup competition, and Guerdat noted, “The Riders Masters Cup is a great experience of a high level team competition for our young riders.”
The Riders Masters Cup heads west on Saturday, April 27, 2019, as Riders USA will have the chance at redemption at the Longines Masters of New York.
Victories also came for French and Australian flags at the 10th annual Longines Masters of Paris with 2016 Olympic team gold medalist Kevin Staut winning the Longines Speed Challenge for the third time riding Ayade de Septon et HDC on Friday evening. Competition came to a peak on Sunday when Australian Olympian Edwina Tops-Alexander became the second female to win the Longines Grand Prix of Paris, the European leg of the Grand Slam Indoor of Show Jumping.
“I've been coming to the event for 10 years and I've seen it get better and better,” said Tops-Alexander, who topped a field of 43 riding California. “It is a great atmosphere. There’s so much going on behind the scene, it's a lot of work - I know what it's like! I have a lot of respect for this and for everybody involved, and especially the public, the riders, the horses, the sponsors. It takes a lot to achieve this and I think every year it is getting better. The public is amazingly supportive, whichever the nationality of the rider.”
Produced by EEM and aired live on EEM.tv, the Longines Masters of Paris was also praised by EEM CEO Christophe Ameeuw, who said, "Many riders have been faithful to the event since the very first edition. It is a moment of deep emotion for us. The past week has brought us lots of great moments that will leave us with fond memories. The most amazing things about the Longines Masters of Paris are the crowd, as well as the partners and the fabulous line-up of riders. The passion is incredible and can create this atmosphere that nothing can disrupt.”
The Longines Masters Series moves on to the Longines Masters of Hong Kong from February 15-17, and the Longines Masters of New York on April 25-28. Watch via live-stream on EEM.tv, a free digital equestrian sports channel broadcasting all of the action. Tickets for the Longines Masters of New York will be available soon at www.longinesmasters.com/en/ticketing/new-york.
For full information on the 2018/2019 Longines Masters, visit www.longinesmasters.com.