The grand finale of the 2023 Global Champions Calendar is officially underway. Tomorrow, on November 15th, the highly anticipated GC Prague Playoffs will commence, bringing together elite athletes from the world of show jumping for the fifth edition of this thrilling event.
The launch press conference, held today at the impressive O2 arena in the picturesque city of Prague, the 'city of a thousand spires,' officially declared the 2023 GC Prague Playoffs open.
The season-long anticipation has reached its peak as the ultimate showdown begins, featuring over €11 million in prize money. The excitement kicks off with the GCL Super Cup Quarter Final, promising a spectacular display of skill and competition.
Jan Tops, Founder and President of the Longines Global Champions Tour and GCL team series spoke of the spell the GC Prague Playoffs casts on spectators, competitors and the wider community alike after an incredible year across continents.
Mr. Tops said, “For us as the organisers and as the riders, this is the event which everyone is working towards all year. Five years ago, we didn't know what to expect with the Playoffs - it was an entirely new concept, and now we have a product created together with the team here in Prague that is completely unique in the world of show jumping for owners, riders, breeders and staff. Even after the four previous years, we are excited to be here and looking forward to an incredible weekend.”
He went on to add: “I think for show jumping as a whole, you see here the best horses and riders competing. They manage their horses all year with this event in mind and to compete here in this amazing arena. It’s not just the sport that is at the highest level, but the atmosphere, the entertainment, music and graphics, all support this event to be something special for this sport.”
Talking about the anticipation ahead of this week’s event Anna Kellnerová said: “Here at the O2 arena for us it is just unbelievable and frankly words cannot describe it, there is so much energy and as riders we feel it. For all riders this is a highlight event of the year. Everyone is trying to take top spot so it will be a challenge this week.”
Nicola Philippaerts spoke of his team’s success in the 2021 GCL Super Cup, having taken top podium position and riding with the incredible support of the Czech crowd. He said: “To come back to Prague as a rider, we all look forward throughout the year to come to this event, it is sport on the highest level, and the atmosphere is very, very special. With my team this year the Stockholm Hearts, we have brought the best horses and riders. We are lucky enough to qualify straight in to the GCL Super Cup Semi Final on Friday, and for sure we are aiming for the Final. Once we are in the Final, anything can happen - all the scores count and we are going to see very good sport.”
Event Director Jan Andrlík said: “We have a record number of spectators this year. We have broken the 35,000 figure so we are very proud of what we have achieved. There is an unforgettable ambience this week with lots of entertainment which we try to make a new experience each year.”
In closing words, Jan Tops expressed his thanks to the supporters of the event: “I would like to thank our Title Partner and Official Timekeeper Longines for their tremendous support during this season and here at the GC Playoffs. Many thanks also go to the Kellner Family and local team for their support in our partnership for the GC Prague Playoffs.”
This afternoon at the O2 arena featured a prelude for the group of elite international competitors, providing the horses with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the arena for the first time this year and acclimate to a weekend of high-level sport.
The much-anticipated GCL Super Cup Quarter Final is set to begin at 20:00 tomorrow, launching an exciting phase of the competition. For show jumping enthusiasts worldwide unable to attend this unique event, all the action will be broadcasted live on GCTV.