Rising Stars Praise 'Amazing' Opportunities for Development at Tops International Arena
Leading U25 rider Gilles Thomas and Global Future Champions' Leading Dutch Rider Mel Ven Der Kamp have praised the 'amazing' facilities at Tops International Arena and opportunities for young riders on this world-class stage on the final day of competition this weekend.
Talented Belgian rising star Gilles Thomas spoke of the unique environment for development of young riders, and said "It’s a really good opportunity for young riders, there are not many opportunities like this, to be able to compete at such a top quality venue. It’s incredible for young riders to compete in the same arenas as the 5* riders. You can really feel the atmosphere of a 5* competition when you ride in the main arena."
Gilles also praised the top-class stabling and facilities on offer at the venue in the heart of Europe, explaining "The best thing about Tops International Arena for me is the huge fixed stables. I have a lot of stallions and so it is much better for them to be in the fixed stables. While it is a big venue, everything is also close together so it’s really good for the grooms. You can really see that a lot of thought has been taken in designing the venue."
Gilles epitomises the opportunity for progression from Global Future Champions to the world stage of the Longines Global Champions Tour and GCL, and in March this year competed in the prestigious LGCT and GCL competitions at Al Shaqab, Doha. Riding for Miami Celtics, he achieved impressive performances at his first GCL event and said "It was incredible to ride for Miami Celtics in the GCL of Doha this year. It’s something new, and I was really happy to jump a double clear for the team. It was fantastic to be at Al Shaqab with the top 5* riders - you can learn so much just from watching them ride. It’s really motivating to be on the team, it gives riders a new passion and new goals."
14-year old Dutch talent Mel Van Der Kamp was crowned Leading Dutch Rider at Global Future Champions, posting clear rounds in the children's classes on both Friday and Saturday, and aims to complete his hat-trick on Sunday in the CHICh 1.20/1.25m class.
Speaking of his development as a rider and goals in show jumping, Mel explains "I have always wanted to compete in the Longines Global Champions Tour, it’s really cool and that is my dream. One day I also hope to be able to ride in a GCL team! I am in my last year riding in the children’s classes, and after I have worked up through the junior and young rider classes, I’d love to try to ride for a GCL team. I always try to work very hard and that’s my aim."
All the action from the final day of competition will be streamed live from Tops International Arena here.