In fact, dozens of horses who will be competing at the AsiaWorld-Expo venue from February 15–17 have already been in the city for several days now, after arriving at Hong Kong International Airport on an Etihad Boeing 777 cargo plane. In total, 32 riders and 55 horses from 16 nations are entered in the Longines Masters at the 5* level, with all – including Ireland’s Bertram Allen and Denis Lynch, and Great Britain’s Laura Renwick and Robert Smith – aiming for a win in the USD $400,000 Longines Grand Prix of Hong Kong and other big classes.
Some of the other well-known names in the sport in town this week include France’s Kevin Staut, Roger Yves Bost, Simon Delestre and Patrice Delaveau, Belgium’s Jérome Guery and Olivier Philippaerts, Austria’s Max Kühner, and Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer and Jane Richard Philips. The full entries list is here. One notable absence in Asia this year is Australian rider Edwina Tops-Alexander, who won the Grand Prix at the opening Paris competition in December on her 12-year-old mare California. The rider reportedly felt the horse she was preparing for Hong Kong, 10-year-old stallion Vinchester, was not up for the challenge of the high-stakes competition at the moment.
As Tops-Alexander will not be taking part in the 1.60-metre Grand Prix in Hong Kong, she will not be able to pursue the Super Bonus of €2,250,000 for three victories in the same season of the series, but could still later re-enter the race for a €1,000,000 bonus for three straight victories in Longines Grand Prix over two Longines Masters seasons (for example Hong Kong–New York–Paris, or New York–Paris–Hong Kong).
Setting the stage for all the action at the Longines Masters, leading figures in the equestrian world will come together in Hong Kong Thursday and Friday at the second edition of Asia Horse Week for panel discussions and seminars on a range of issues. Created by the competition founder Christophe Ameeuw, Asia Horse Week has rapidly established itself as a major forum to “share experience, exchange knowledge and engage with the key players of the horse world.”
Among the numerous participants speaking at the event this year are the Secretary General of the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), Sabrina Ibáñez, on the issue of horse welfare and clean sport, top Dutch rider Jos Lansink and Belgian and German horse breeders Joris De Brabander and Paul Schockemohle on the Sports–Breeding connection, FEI Veterinary Director Dr. Goran Akerstrom on avoiding positive drug samples, Chinese rider Alex Hua Tian on educating trainers regarding horse management and welfare, and Michael Lee of the Hong Kong Equestrian Federation on sport development in Asia. For the full schedule and list of seminars and panel participants at Asia Horse Week, see here.
And for those who are not in Hong Kong this week, the Longines Masters can be watched live and for free on EEM TV after creating an account. The schedule of events and classes – which also includes the Longines Speed Challenge Saturday night – is here. Hong Kong is eight hours ahead of the United Kingdom.