The final event on the 2022 Global Champions Calendar has officially been declared open. With the GC Prague Playoffs kicking off tomorrow [17 November], the star athletes of the show jumping world are congregating in Prague, for the fourth edition of the Playoffs.
With the launch press conference hosted today at the impressive O2 arena, in the Czech capital and ‘city of a thousand spires’, the president of Longines Global Champions Tour & GCL, Jan Tops commented: “This event is one of a kind – fierce competition, stunning shows and special effects, celebrating the top athletes in our sport.”
Excitement has been building all season for what the ultimate final show down with over €8 million in prize money on offer, kicking off with the GCL Super Cup Quarter Finals presented by Air Bank.
Mr Tops commented on the biggest event of the year: “We are excited to watch the biggest event of the year with 14 qualifiers for the €1.25 million Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix. And with over €6 million on offer for the teams during the GCL Super Cup presented by Air Bank, this unique format where everyone starts from scratch means everything is to play for.”
The superstar equine athletes of the show jumping world have arrived and settled into the impressive venue ahead of the four-day competition. With the likes of reigning world champion King Edward of Henrik von Eckermann, Michael Pender’s two-time 2022 LGCT Grand Prix winning mount HH Calais and veteran of the podium, Ludger Beerbaum’s Mila.
Reigning World Champion Henrik von Eckermann commented on his desire to lift the LGCT Super Grand Prix trophy for a second year running: “I have a lot of motivation and I would really like to have my name on that trophy again. My horse is in very good shape, he won the last Grand Prix he did."
He added: “I am really looking forward to Saturday, last year was an incredible evening with a great crowd, so yeah we are looking forward with Swedish people coming and cheering as well.”
Talking about the anticipation ahead of this week’s event Anna Kellnerová said: “The Prague Playoffs is like the Super Bowl, it's a special week. The fans and the people who come here create such an amazing atmosphere and an amazing feeling when we enter the arena that it's unlike any other race.
Every team that races here wants to not only make it to the finals, but to stand on the podium. It's a very ambitious plan, but that's what we're here for, to do the best we can. And it's a great benefit to be able to jump straight in on Friday. We all know that even if you can do well all season, then things can turn around. It's just a new race and we have to approach it as if we don't have those successes behind us."
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 for their support in our partnership for the GC Prague Playoffs.”
Event Director Jan Andrlík said: "We are very happy that the interest of the fans is great this year. We expect that the total attendance should be close to the record set in 2019. That's approximately 29,000 spectators. We have designed the accompanying programme different again this year, because we always want the audience to have a new and different experience. We are very pleased to welcome the flying Frenchman Lorenzo."
This afternoon at the O2 arena saw a warm up for the field of elite international competitors, giving the horses a chance to see the arena for the first time this year and settle into a weekend of top sport.
Kicking off the GCL Super Cup Quarter Final kicks off at 20:00 tomorrow. All the action will be streamed live on GCTV for all the show jumping fans around the globe unable to attend this one of it’s kind event.