Over the course of the next seven months, 15 events across 13 countries will bring together some of the best show jumpers in the world - including Olympic, world and continental champions, to compete in prestigious locations in what is the world’s foremost show jumping series.
For this its 10th Anniversary season, the 2015 series sees sensational new venues featuring for the first time on the LGCT circuit. In addition to expanding to the US continent by bringing Olympic-level sport to the world-famous Miami Beach on America’s East Coast, Rome in Italy will be part of this unique sporting and social calendar. It means the championship now spans three continents as it takes in the world's great cities including Paris, London, Shanghai and the special final event in Doha, Qatar.
If last year’s dramatic conclusion is anything to go by, the 2015 LGCT promises to be equally as exciting. Back in November, a dramatic final event in Doha saw world number one Scott Brash pip Sweden’s Rolf Goran Bengtsson to the title having seen both riders finish level on points at the end of the LGCT series, with both only one point ahead of Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum.
All three will be back in contention for this year’s weries, although Bengtsson and Beerbaum will miss the opening round of competition as the LGCT gets underway along the Atlantic shore.
Famous for its beautiful Art Deco buildings and incredible beaches, the Miami Beach event is set to be one of the crown jewels of the new season. The Longines GCT debut for Miami Beach coincides neatly with its centennial celebrations and the American leg of the Tour will bring together spectacular top equestrian sporting action and great entertainment in this most glamorous of party cities.
Predictably, many US riders will be out in force for this unique show jumping event as the best riders in the world compete to lift the Grand Prix trophy.
Some of the biggest names in US showjumping will be vying for success in this opening round of the 2015 series including as American number one Beezie Madden, Olympic and world medallist Laura Kraut, Nations Cup veteran and Central Park Grand Prix winner, Georgina Bloomberg, Katie Dinan and the last two American Gold Cup champions Jessica Springsteen and Brianne Goutal, Lauren Hough, Lucy Davis, and Todd Minikus.
They will all be joined by the cream of international equestrianism including world number one Brash, reigning Olympic champion Steve Guerdat from Switzerland, reigning European champion Roger-Yves Bost from France, and the 2011 & 2012 Longines GCT champion Edwina Tops-Alexander from Australia.
Add to this former Olympic champ Rodrigo Pessoa from Brazil, Great British legend Michael Whitaker, 2014 FEI World Cup final winner Daniel Deusser from Germany, and 2014 world gold medallist Maikel van der Vleuten from the Netherlands and the line-up is as sparkling as the waters on the sun-drenched beaches.
The feature class of the show, the $600,000 (€529,000) Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach Grand Prix, will be contested on the afternoon of Saturday 4 April.
Also one of America's most iconic show jumping events, the American Invitational, has found a new home at the Miami Beach LGCT event, this time as Friday's main event. After 40 years in Tampa, Florida and following the bold move to the East coast last year at Sun Life Stadium, the long-running American Invitational has given up its stand-alone stadium status, a move which on the surface seems to be a be a positive one for both the event itself and for show jumping in the USA.