French showjumper Kevin Staut has won the Grand Prix at the Longines Equestrian Beijing Masters at the Bird’s Nest stadium on Sunday, besting 10 other international riders and 21 Chinese competitors.
Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum finished second, with Swiss rider Jane Richard Philips third, ahead of the best finishing Chinese competitor Meimei Zhu in fourth place.
The Longines Grand Prix was broadcast live on Chinese State TV channel CCTV 5, and achieved one of the highest TV viewing figures in the history of the equestrian sport. Eurosport also broadcast the competition live.
After a jump-off with five riders, Staut emerged the winner. “It is something special winning here in the Olympic Stadium of Peking,” he said, “the Bird’s Nest is unique”.
He added that he was surprised at the high standard of the Chinese riders: “I came here the last time two years ago and there has been a lot of progress since then.”
The special concept of the Longines Equestrian Beijing Masters, which places the focus on the constant development of the sport in the country, is a great opportunity for China and the international equestrian sport, Staut said.
Organisers say the Longines Equestrian Beijing Masters it is not about presenting the sport with the world’s top riders as a closed community, but instead about promoting the sustainable development of the equestrian sport in China. This means giving the best Chinese riders the opportunity to compete alongside international showjumpers, although the latter are on borrowed horses because of quarantine issues.
“One World ” was the motto of the 2008 Olympic Games in Peking, and now, six years later, Longines Equestrian Beijing Masters organisers have turned this into their own. “One world – that fits in perfectly with our concept of building up the equestrian sport here in Peking together with the Chinese,” said organiser Frank Kemperman.
This is the fourth year that top international riders have travelled to China’s capital city for the competition, and in that time has progressed from being a 2* show up to a 3* event. Encouragingly, there is considerable interest from the media and sponsors.
“The Longines Beijing Masters is particularly a fantastic environment for premium brands, in order to present China in a new light,” said organiser Michael Mronz.
Ludger Beerbaum enlisted the experienced organising team from Aachen involved in the project when the Chinese organisers asked for his assistance four years ago.
“A lot has happened over these four years,” Beerbaum said, “but in order to establish the Longines Equestrian Beijing Masters permanently as a 5* show, we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”