Located more than 2,000 metres above sea level in the city’s 686-hectare Chapultepec Park with its monumental 50m x 26m Mexican flag, the Campo Marte (Mars Field) has an electric atmosphere during events, according to the president of the LGCT Mexico City in 2018, Francisco Pasquel: “The crowd here are incredible – they shout, they cry, they clap – it’s very emotional.”
And this year, the action promises to be intense in the arena, with many of the best horse-and-rider combinations in the world facing off on course designer Javier Trenor Paz’s tracks. Those entered include Great Britain’s 2018 Tour champion Ben Maher, 2018 Mexico Grand Prix winner Scott Brash, Michael Whitaker and William Whitaker. Five rivals from Ireland are also in town: Bertam Allen, Shane Breen, Michael Duffy, Denis Lynch and Shane Sweetnam.
Elizabeth ‘Beezie’ Madden has made the trip back across the Atlantic this week from Sweden to the event, where she will part of a powerhouse American trio rounded out by Kent Farrington and Laura Kraut. Others who have come directly from the World Cup Final in Scandinavia include Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca, France’s Kevin Staut, Germany’s Christian Ahlmann and Daniel Deusser, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels. They will be joined by many other big names in the sport, including Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander, the Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders, Qatar’s Bassem Mohammed, Israel’s Danielle Goldstein and Brazil’s Yuri Mansur. The full riders list is here.
In addition to the Tour and its €311,000 Grand Prix of Mexico City on Saturday, a good number of the equestrian athletes on hand will also be competing in the team-based Global Champions League, whose lead-off stage in Doha in late February/early March was won by the Shanghai Swans squad. And after Mexico City, the Tour and League will head to Miami Beach, Shanghai, Madrid, Hamburg, Cannes, Stockholm, Cascais/Estoril, Monaco, Paris, Chantilly, Berlin, London, Valkenswaard, Rome, Ramatuelle/Saint-Tropez, Montreal, and New York before the year-end play-offs in Prague, Czech Republic in November. More information on how to watch this week’s competition is here.
Random fact: the horses and riders in Mexico City will be competing 2,250 metres above sea level, a factor for athletes to consider regarding oxygen and endurance. At 667 metres above sea level, Madrid – whose competition takes place in May – is situated at the highest altitude of any major European capital (with La Paz, Bolivia tops in the world, at 3,640 m). For smaller centres in Europe, Andorra la Vella is reputedly 1,023 m up.