by Heather Wallace for Equine Info Exchange
The pounding of hooves echoed throughout New York’s Nassau Coliseum the last long weekend in April 2018 for the first Longines Masters New York presented by EEM, the final leg of the Grand Slam of Showjumping.
Founded in 2009, Longines Masters was created to bring together the greatest equestrians in the world's most elegant cities: Paris, Hong Kong and, in 2014—Los Angeles. In May of 2017, it was announced that in 2018, the third leg of event would move the prestigious Longines Masters from its established American home in Los Angeles to the Nassau Coliseum in New York, bringing the event and subsequent awareness from American coast-to-coast.
The seamless move to New York showcased the thrill of international showjumping to the East Coast audience that craves this most-elegant of equestrian sports. The weekend of April 26 - 29 was the grand finale, with total prize earnings up to 4,500,000€ (approx $5.3M USD at time of this posting)--over the course of the series.
Combining the sophistication of New York’s elite with the adrenaline rush of beating the clock over 1.5m fences, the event was more than a horse show: it was a social event of multinational proportions.
Luxury storefronts lined the Prestige Village including Hermes, Sam Edelman, Voltaire, CWD and of course, Longines. Visitors toured the high-end wares and fine art galleries while sipping champagne, listening to live music and mingling with top-ranked equestrian athletes from around the globe.
The newly renovated NYCB Live at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York was the perfect destination for the event, with acres of indoor and outdoor real estate available for all the horses, humans and their accoutrement that goes with a world-class equestrian event.
New York State is home to many of Team USA, including McLain Ward, who lives in Brewster and Georgina Bloomberg, in North Salem. Spectators and socialites alike arrived to watch junior, amateur, and professional jumpers that included top-ranking FEI riders and Olympians in the Speed Challenge Friday evening; the Riders Masters Cup Saturday night; and finally, the culmination of the event on Sunday: the Longines New York Grand Prix Event.
Riders Masters Cup New York
In 2017, Christophe Ameeuw and his team at EEM partnered with the European Equestrian Federation (EEF), determined to bring a new game to the equestrian spotlight as a team event. On April 28, 2018 in New York, this vision became a reality with the Riders Masters Cup.
The concept is unique: two teams riding against each other’s time in two rounds for $250,000 in prize money and bragging rights.
This innovative new competition was the feature that evening in April: a rivalry between the United States and European teams, each team consisting of one captain and five riders. Each rider competed head-to-head for their teams in two rounds.
While friendly with each other outside of the ring, Team United States was determined to win at home, and brought their signature intensity to the match. But, ah, the European equestrian team had won the inaugural Riders Masters Cup on December 2, 2017 at the Longines Masters Paris. They arrived in New York in April, focused on defending their title.
The First Round
The first round in the Riders Masters Cup was 1.5m fences against the clock on a Grand Prix-style course. The winner of each round received one point for their respective teams. Pairs fac-ing off against each other were chosen at random prior to the date:
Both teams rode with great heart and focus, but it was clear that, no matter what Team USA brought to the ring—the returning Champion Europeans were determined to beat their times.
Round one winner: Team Europe.
The Second Round
The second round consisted of a different course over 1.45m fences. Any fallen poles resulted in a three-second addition to the competitors’ time. The winner of each round would win two points for their team. The captains were able to choose the order of go for their own riders, and had to strategize the best match-ups in the jump-off duels.
It came down to the wire, and looked like the U.S. was going to make a comeback to take the prize after McLain Ward’s perfect ride. However, Harrie Smolders came out with fire and deter-mination, jumping clean under McLain’s time to seal Europe’s victory.
Round two: Team Europe
The Riders Masters Cup Results in a European Victory
All-in-all, this was an extraordinarily exciting day for spectators and riders alike at the Riders Masters Cup team event. Points volleyed back and forth between the two until Harrie Smolders sealed the Europeans' victory with an impeccable final ride on Cas 2.
Team Europe now has won the first two Riders Masters Cup events: now the rivalry is on, and will be duked out at the next Longines Masters duel in Paris this coming November.
What an amazing weekend it was for international showjumping at the Longines Masters in New York! Exquisite cuisine; lively entertainment; high-end shopping and some of the best riders in the world were in the house, both under saddle and on the ground to meet with fans.
If you were not able to attend in person, you may view the replays for free on EEM TV, launched in 2017.
Learn more on EIE in our Hunter Jumper section!
About the Author: Heather Wallace is a Certified Equine Sports Massage Therapist (ESMT), Certified Canine Massage Therapist (CCMT), and Aromatherapist working diligently to reveal to the world the benefits natural therapies for animals through both hands on work and writing in her award-winning blog, Bridle & Bone.
Heather is also the Content Manager for EquineInfoExchange.com and a regular writer for a number of publications including Equine Info Exchange, Sidelines Magazine, and Holistic Horse Magazine. Her first book, Equestrian Handbook of Excuses, was a 2017 Literary Selection for the Equus Film Festival. Available for preorder now is her second book, Confessions of a Timid Rider, which details her insights about being an anxiety-ridden but passionate equestrian. In her spare time, of which she has little, she spends her time with her husband, three children, two dogs, and pony.
Find out more about Heather Wallace in our section on Business Services - Writers.