Irish duo Billy Twomey and Shane Breen, were both “overwhelmed” with the reaction of the Chinese public, on the opening day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Shanghai today (Friday), as the country witnessed five star show jumping action for the very first time.
Speaking after an official autograph signing session in the public village area of the show, Tipperary born Breen said, “It was incredible! I have never seen anything like it! They had to hold the public back and the atmosphere was amazing. We were there for 25 minutes, but we could have sat there all afternoon the crowd was so big.”
Shane Breen and Billy Twomey are both sponsored by Irish company Connolly’s RED MILLS, who are the Official Feed Supplier for the LGCT in Shanghai and Cork’s Twomey was in sparkly form on the opening day of the show, grabbing a cool €54,000 for his runner up finish in the 1m.50 jump off class with the Irish Sport Horse stallion Ardcolum Duke. The competition was won by rising star twenty-year-old Contant van Paesschen (BEL) in spectacular style with his relatively new ride Citizenguard Cadjanine Z.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s feature class, the Longines Global Champions Tourof Shanghai, Twomey, who also finished seventh in Friday’s 1m45 two phase competition with Diaghilev commented,
“It’s a wonderful experience for me to be here in Shanghai. My horse is in good shape and fingers crossed it goes well. The event looks really fantastic and there is over $1 million for the Grand Prix, so with this kind of prize money you will get some really strong competition. A lot of the good riders in the world are here. The best are here competing for the best prize money and it will be exciting for everyone to watch. I imagine it is going to be packed for the Grand Prix.”
Meanwhile at a packed press conference, with almost 100 photographers, camera crews and journalists, Connolly’s RED MILLS sponsored Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) who currently heads the LGCT standings, was said to be “very impressed” with the debut Longines Global Champions Tour event in Shanghai. The dynamic Chinese city joins a prestigious list of great city destinations on the Tour circuit in Europe and the Middle East including Paris, London, Chantilly, Monaco and Doha.
Journalists crowded round the champion show jumpers eager to quiz them about the arrival of the Tour in China. Edwina, whose entire stable of horses are fed exclusively on Connolly’s RED MILLS horse feed said:
“As a rider I am really impressed by the organisation here. We all know how much work goes into these shows and we are very happy with things here. For a first time event it is very impressive.”
Jan Tops, President of the Tour, explained the three-year project with the Chinese authorities and the European Commission to enable international competition horses to be flown to China and compete on the mainland.
“This was not even possible for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, so the horses had to compete in Hong Kong. But we worked hard with the authorities and we had incredible support and we are proud to be here. Today we open a new chapter in the history of our sport. A truly historic milestone for equestrian sport in China.”
The Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Shanghai, will be shown live on Eurosport TV from 10am Irish time.