History of the GCT Series…

Jan Tops saw his vision of a exclusive and geographically ideal tour realized six years ago. It was in 2006 that started things off for Jan and the rest of the equestrian world. GCT began a whole new league of exclusivity and prestige when Jan chose luxurious locations, top-of-the-line facilities and an overall presentation that elicited a brand that would become synonymous with elegance and style.

Rather coincidentally Ludo Philippaerts, the first top European rider that Edwina rode for when she first moved to Europe, would be the first to win the prestigious Tour title. Then it would be the famous Nick Skelton and Arko who would snatch up the 2007 title. Ireland’s Jessica Kurten would be the first female jockey to take home the bonus purse and the 2008 Global Champions tour series title.

1982 World Champion Michel Robert was the 2009 GCT series winner with Kellemoi de Pepita. While the textbook technician Marcus Ehning was the 2010 winner of the series with his exubernnt bay mare Kuchen girl.

Edwina is the only rider to date who has not only won the series twice, but also back-to-back with the same horse. Edwina was rather disappointed with her and Itot’s results in this summer’s London Olympic games but no doubt tonight’s win will sooth any remaining disappointment.

For Edwina and Itot du Chateau are destined to be written into the history books, for more then one reason now.

YR Rider Country Horse
2006 LUDO PHILIPPAERTS Belgium Parco
2007 NICK SKELTON Great Britain Arko
2008 JESSICA KURTEN Ireland Castle Forbes Libertina
2009 MICHEL ROBERT France Kellemoi de Pepita
2010 MARCUS EHNING Germany Kuchen girl
2011 EDWINA TOPS-ALEXANDER Australia Itot du Chateau
2012 EDWINA TOPS-ALEXANDER Australia Itot du Chateau

A Glimpse at Ian Millar…

Ian made history this year when he became the first Olympic athlete in history to attend ten Olympic games in his lifetime.

At 65 years of age, Ian represents the amazing longevity of our sport and the ability to improve with age. Millar, who made his first appearance at the Munich Olympics in 1972, said: “I am better now than I was then, in knowledge and experience.” Ian won his first Olympic medal 4 years ago in Beijing when Canada earned a silver medal in the team competition.

Ian was the first Canadian rider to successfully defend the World Cup Final title, winning in 1988 at Gothenburg, Sweden and again in 1989 at Tampa, US, aboard the legendary Big Ben, on both occasions. He placed 2nd on Big Ben in 1986, the year I was born if you can imagine, also in Gothenburg.

Ian has attended every Olympic games for Canada since 1971, except for 1980, due to the boycott of the Moscow Olympics by such countries as Canada, USA and Great Britain.

Learn about the wonderful story of this amazing man, the most decorated rider in Canada.

A bit of History of the World Cup…

Well we just finished the 3rd leg of the FEI Rolex World Cup in Lyon, France and getting to talk with everyone I was curious how everything started.
Well it started in 1978 and now 30 years later the FEI World Cup has spanned the globe. The FEI World Cup series began in 1978 with show jumping, and was then extended to Dressage in 1985, Driving in 2001 and Eventing in 2003.

The FEI World Cup was set up with the 1978/79 indoor season thanks to the insight of Max Amman, a Swiss journalist considered by sector specialists to be an authentic “guru”, and the impetus of the International Riders Association.

The International Equestrian Federation found the keys to bring the sport of show jumping from niche spectator attendance to the overall public at large.

The sport of show jumping needed a competition formula that, in the wake of highly successful events in other sports disciplines such as Formula 1 for example, could ensure a loyal following of enthusiasts, expand interest beyond the mere scope of competitors and harmonize technical content by formalizing a circuit embracing events of spectacular status. It helped riders as well as sponsors, who sought new investment opportunities in this sport, to formulate a year round competition schedule, thus uping the competition anty if you will.

The World Cup took the sport from the large open-air arenas to Sports Centers and from natural grass fields to courses with sand and synthetic materials. Techniques also had to keep pace with developments: shorter courses, narrower fences, lighter barriers and variable time allowed. Horses had to achieve greater elasticity and speed. Riders had to accept new approaches to management and resources in order to support a full time, year round show schedule. The World Cup marked a major change in the sport of international show jumping.

The countries generally considered as the “major powers” in world of show jumping all took up the challenge: France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Switzerland and Holland immediately stepped forwards as candidates to host the Western Europe “League” that since 2007/08, together with the Final, has been named the Rolex FEI World Cup.

The United States, Canada, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil simultaneously formulated their own response to the Old Continent. This challenge was later taken up by other countries in Eastern Europe, Asia and even the Southern Hemisphere.

The International Equestrian Federation celebrated thirty years of the FEI World Cup by joining forces with the prestigious name of Rolex, now the sponsor of the European League and the Final.

The leading names in international show jumping respond every year from five continents: the Leagues (Currently fourteen) qualify only the best ‘pairs’ for the highly-awaited final. In 2010, for the first time, the final was held in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2011, the final three were Germany’s Christian Ahlmann and his stallion Taloubet Z. Canada’s Eric Lamaze and his famous mount Hickstead in second and Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED) was third with BMC Van Grunsven Simon.

As regards the winners of the 34 finals so far, American and German riders stand out in the roll of honor respectively with eight and nine victories. German riders have dominated the scene in the third millennium. American-born German rider, Meredith Michaels Beerbaum, boasts three victories, of which two consecutive (2005, 2008 and 2009), on a par with Marcus Ehning (2003, 2006 and 2010). Germany’s Christian Ahlmann claimed the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping 2011 title for Germany on his home ground in Leipzig with his stallion, Taloubet Z.

This spring it was Rich Fellers who took the Rolex FEI Show Jumping World Cup Final title at s-Hertogenbosch with his long-time partner Flexible. For the first time in 25 years, a U.S. rider has won the World Cup. The previous US victory, goes way back to 1987 with Katharine Burdsall. Second place was this year’s Gold medalist Steve Guerdat and Nino des Buissonnets. Third was another Swiss machine, Pius Schwizer and his mare Carlina.

A History lesson by Louise Parkes….

The Telenor Arena in Oslo, Norway hosts the first leg of the new season next Sunday, and the excitement is building by the day. This, after all, is the first step on the road to the 35th annual Final of a series that has quality written all over it. The taking of the prestigious Rolex FEI World Cup crown has been a defining moment in the careers of so many of the greatest horse-and-rider combinations in the history of the sport of international Jumping. It’s the one they all want to win.

And there is always something special about a season that concludes at Gothenburg in Sweden, because it is was here that the very first champion was crowned, when, back in 1979, the then-36-year-old Hugo Simon from Austria paved the way for many more to come as he galloped to victory with the big, bold Gladstone. 

The closing stages of the 2012/2013 season will be played out at the Scandinavian Arena again from 24-28 April next year, but there will be a whole lot of great competition before that. And it is not just restricted to the European mainland, as riders from 16 leagues around the world are all vying for a qualifying spot for the Final.

Expansion of the Sport

The expansion of the sport of Jumping is relentless, and competitors from the Arab, Australia/Pacific, Caucasian, Central Asian, Central European, Chinese, South East Asian, Japanese, New Zealand/Pacific, South African, South American South, South America North, Central America and Caribbean Islands, North American East and North American West Leagues will all be hoping to impress, along with their Western European counterparts.

The record of Western European riders in this series is second to none, but Germany’s dominance of the winner’s podium will be challenged this season if the USA can make it two-in-a-row. Germany has taken the title on nine occasions, but Rich Fellers’ victory in ‘s-Hertogenbosch this year brought the US tally to eight.  

There had been a long time-lapse of 25 years since Katharine Burdsall previously held the trophy high after victory with The Natural in Paris in 1987. American riders were all but unbeatable in those early years, winning seven of the first nine series Finals, so there was a very long drought before Fellers bridged that gap. And he did it in spectacular style, partnering the 16-year-old Flexible who, like his rider, is a real fighter in the ring. The stallion’s career hopes have been dashed many times by injury and accidents, but he just keeps coming back and, on their fifth attempt at consecutive Finals the dashing duo pulled it off.     

They nearly ended the US drought when finishing second at the Rolex FEI World Cup Final at Gothenburg in 2008 when Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and the great Shutterfly reigned supreme. So the Swedish venue will be a happy hunting ground should Fellers and Flexible return to the Scandinavium Arena next spring.

The Man they all Fear

However the man they will all fear this season is Switzerland’s new Olympic champion, Steve Guerdat, who had to stand on the second step of the podium when pipped by Fellers in a thrilling third-round jump-off at the 2011/2012 Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping finale last April.

The 30-year-old has always been a formidable opponent, and in the wake of his Olympic triumph he can be expected to be an even tougher nut to crack. In a well-planned campaign last season, he earned his qualifying spot with strong performances at Lyon (FRA), Stuttgart (GER) and Geneva (SUI). And each time he was partnering Nino des Buissonnets, the horse that he steered to Olympic glory in London this summer where he clinched the individual title in a three-way cliff-hanger.

Pressure is not a problem for this super-competitive rider, and he probably feels he has a score to settle. Accepting defeat by Fellers at ‘s-Hertogenbosch last April after a closely-fought jump-off, he said he was determined “to do better next time”. There’s only one thing better than second place, and with an Olympic medal already stashed away in his trophy cabinet, he will be hoping to add the often elusive but most prestigious prize of the indoor international jumping circuit – the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping trophy.   

Facts and Figures…

  • This is the 35th season of FEI World Cup Jumping.
  • Rolex took up title sponsorship of the Western European League series in 2007.
  • Riders from 16 leagues on all continents will take part in qualifying competitions before the 2012/13 Final which takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden next April.
  • The defending FEI World Cup Jumping champion is America’s Rich Fellers who steered the stallion Flexible to victory at the 2011/2012 Final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands last April.
  • Riders from 16 leagues around the globe will compete in the FEI World Cup Jumping qualifying rounds. The leagues are: Arab; Australia/Pacific, Caucasian, Central Asian, Central European, Chinese; South East Asian; Japanese; New Zealand/Pacific; South African; Central American & Caribbean Islands; South America North; South America South; North America East; North America West; Western European.
  • The youngest rider ever to win the FEI World Cup Jumping title was the USA’s Mario Deslauriers, who was just 19 years old when he came out on top at Gothenburg, Sweden in 1984 riding Aramis.
  • The oldest winner was Austria’s Hugo Simon, the man who claimed the trophy with Gladstone in the inaugural 1978/1979 season at the age of 36, but who was 54 years of age when winning it for the third time at Gothenburg in 1997, riding ET FRH.
  • Four riders have won the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping title on three occasions, Germany’s Marcus Ehning (2003, 2006, 2010), Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (2005, 2008, 2009), Austria’s Hugo Simon (1979, 1996, 1997) and Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa (1998, 1999, 2000).


Read more written by Louise Parkes

History of the CN International….

  • 2012 Olivier Philippaerts BEL and Cabrio Van De Heffinck
  • 2011 Eric Lamaze  CAN and Hickstead
  • 2010 Jeroen Dubbeldam  NED and Simon
  • 2009 McLain Ward  USA and Sapphire
  • 2008 Nick Skelton  GBR and Arko III
  • 2007 Eric Lamaze  CAN and Hickstead
  • 2006 Eugenie Angot  FRA and Cigale du Tallis
  • 2005 Beezie Madden  USA and Judgement
  • 2004 Jos Lansink  BEL and Cumano
  • 2003 Otto Becker  DEU and Dobels Cento
  • 2002 Ludger Beerbaum  DEU and Goldfever 3
  • 2001 Rodrigo Pessoa  BRA and Gandini Lianos
  • 2000 Rodrigo Pessoa  BRA and Gandini Lianos
  • 1999 Rene Tebbel  DEU and Radiator
  • 1998 Nick Skelton  GBR and Virtual Village Hopes Are High
  • 1997 Leslie Burr-Howard  USA and S’Blieft
  • 1996 Peter Charles  IRL and La Ina
  • 1995 Michael Whitaker  GBR and Everest Two-Step
  • 1994 John Whitaker  GBR and Everest Grannusch
  • 1993 Nick Skelton  GBR and Everest Dollar Girl
  • 1992 John Whitaker  GBR and Henderson Gammon
  • 1991 Ian Millar  CAN and Big Ben
  • 1990 Otto Becker  DEU and Optibeurs Pamina
  • 1989 Michael Whitaker  GBR and Next Mon Santa
  • 1988 George Morris  USA and Rio
  • 1987 Ian Millar  CAN and Big Ben
  • 1986 John Whitaker  GBR and Next Milton
  • 1985 Nick Skelton  GBR and Everest St. James
  • 1984 Heidi Robbiani  CH and Jessica V
  • 1983 Norman Dello Joio  USA and I Love You
  • 1982 Malcolm Pyrah  GBR and Towerlands Anglezarke
  • 1981 David Broome  GBR and Queens Way Philco
  • 1980
  • 1979 Eddie Macken  IRL and Carroll’s Boomerang
  • 1978
  • 1977

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