The 2023 Longines Global Champions Tour and GCL seasons were officially declared open today in Doha as as the prestigious circuit gets underway for a 17th season.
Al Shaqab returns as the launchpad for the 2023 season which will see 53 riders from 19 different countries take on the best of the best in Qatar’s capital city from 2 - 4 March. With athletes, Owners, and Managers alike looking to get the all important head start for the new season, high-stake competitions under the stunning soaring architecture of the Longines Arena at Al Shaqab are sure to thrill all. Today the opening press conference took place setting the scene for a much anticipated weekend of top-level sport.
Last year’s LGCT Grand Prix of Doha winner, Ludger Beerbaum explained: “I have been coming to this event in Doha since day one, and every year I look forward to coming back. It is a really unique venue, all the horses love to come here, it has great facilities that are state of the art. It is just world class and that is the reason why we all love to come back every year. It is simple, it is a great place to come compete.
“You have the best horse, rider combinations here so exciting sport is guaranteed. I would love to repeat what I did last year but it will be tough with the level of competition here.
Marco Danese, GC Sports Director opened the press conference with: “Doha became a tradition in our sport, everyone knows the competitions, and every year we are surprised by the new things that are implemented at the venue for the welfare of the horses like the incredible stables and facilities.
“Everyone in our world knows what Al Shaqab and what Doha and Qatar has done for our sport over the last 15 years. We are proud to be here and to work with the Al Shaqab team. We must thank Omar and his team at Al Shaqab and also all our title sponsors Longines and local sponsors the Commercial Bank, Exxon Mobil and many more who are crucial to making the event a success.”
Omar Al Mannai, Event Director, spoke of hosting the event in Doha for the 15th year saying: "The Longines Global Champions Tour is the best tour currently being organised so this is an added value for every country who may get the opportunity to host it. I put my thanks out to all our partners and the huge appreciation for the trust in the facilities to host one of the best global tours. We are doing our best to expand the equestrian sport.”
The 2023 season sees a new weekend format come into play, designed to benefit the horses, riders and spectators. Marco Danese, Global Champions Sports Director explained the importance of the change: “We changed the format of the competition after many years. The goal of the new schedule is to separate the days of GCL and the LGCT Grand Prix. With both rounds of GCL on same day the goal is to create more attention and strategy for teams in the league. It is fantastic as it makes it easy for the riders, TV, media and spectators so they can talk about the two highlights on different days."
World-renowned rider Ludger then commented on the new format saying: “I agree with Global Champions' decision to separate the League and the Grand Prix on different days. It also makes it so easy for the public to understand and follow. Creating two sport highlights which I think is a good idea.”
Show jumping and sporting fans around the world will have access for free to the action remotely via the live broadcast on GCTV throughout the competition. The first round of the GCL team competition will begin at 15:15 (local time) on Friday 3 March, with all 16 teams looking to secure an elusive podium position for the first round of the 2023 season. Saturday will see the highly anticipated Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Doha kick off at 6pm local time, with riders vying for the win as well as the first golden ticket to the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs.
Tickets for the LGCT first leg are available online here.