Photos courtesy of the Longines Masters Series.
In about two months, downtown Long Beach will transform into an arena filled with equestrians, Michelin-star chefs and more. Olympic equestrian competitors will fly to the Long Beach Airport and descend upon the convention center, ready to compete. You've probably seen the posters lining Ocean Avenue, proclaiming the elite competition's arrival on Long Beach's shoreline.
Notably, for this year's competition, Long Beach will have the opportunity to say they stole the highbrow show away from LA.
“Long Beach is an amazing city, that will provide a great experience,” Matthieu Gheysen, the events director for the Longines Masters Series told the Post yesterday. “With Long Beach, there are arenas, restaurants within walking distance and sunshine 24/7.”
Last year’s event brought the likes of Jessica “Born to Ride” Springsteen (daughter of Bruce “Born to Run” Springsteen) and Georgina Bloomberg to the LA Convention Center, along with spectators such as Bill Gates, according to the Los Angeles Times. Another 17 Olympians, including California native Lucy Davis, competed at the LA venue as well.
This year’s event is expected to be no different, with the world’s elite flocking to the Long Beach shoreline to watch world champion horse riders in an event that has been in the process of developing for over 10 years.
The Longines Masters Series first expanded to the US in 2014, coming to the LA Convention Center as part of a trilogy of competitions, with the others in Paris and Hong Kong, becoming the self-proclaimed “Grand Slam Indoor of Show Jumping.”
“The Longines Masters of Los Angeles is one of the most prestigious equestrian events in the world, and the City of Long Beach is proud to host the American leg of the series,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “Long Beach offers a unique blend of urban sophistication and beach city charm. Our downtown waterfront Arena is a perfect setting for both riders and spectators, with hotels, shopping, entertainment and 125 quality restaurants just steps away.”
“We’ve gotten to know more about the city in the last year and a half—we’ve put in the effort, and when you look at the convention center, downtown Long Beach, the shots and restaurants...to me, they don’t have to envy anything from any other city,” said Gheysen.
He said the convention center’s proximity to the relatively hassle-free Long Beach airport also helped the organizers make their decision, as the speed of the commute stood in stark contrast to that of LAX to downtown Los Angeles.
The event will formally kick off on September 29 and last through October 2, 2016, with spectator access to a warm-up paddock inside the Convention Center, the arenas, and an outdoor stable area for the horses.
The Speed Challenge will occur on Friday September 30, followed by the Pro-Am style competition for charity and a Gold Cup on that Saturday (Kaley Cuoco and Jennifer Gates competed last year, among others), with the most prestigious part of the competition, the Longines Grand Prix, taking place that Sunday.
Dubbed an “Olympic-level class with a course featuring jumps up to 1.60m in height,” the Longines Grand Prix has its competitors participate in tough courses, performing double and triple combinations. The winner has the chance to win 2.25 million Euros for winning each competition within the series consecutively.
Simultaneously, highly regarded chefs will concoct dishes of culinary delight around the arena. Brussels' most decorated chef Yves Mattagne of Sea Grill, who also stars on shows like Masterchef France, will serve as one of the main draws of the event's hospitality. The event will bring an elite crowd to the streets of Long Beach, something that may be repeated for years to come, in addition to luxury brands showcasing their wares in the Prestige Village section.
“If equestrian sports are a matter of taste, there is still a consensus that no one can question: the beauty of the horse transcends the sportive exploit, and beyond the extraordinary performance of the riders, conveys a feeling of wonder,” said Christophe Ameeuw, Founder and CEO of EEM in a statement. “This emotion, this dream, this enchantment that we bring to our ‘Masters’ is our mission at EEM. Each new season of Longines Masters Series, ‘Grand Slam Indoor of Show Jumping,’ across three continents, three cultures, three emblematic cities, Los Angeles, Paris, and Hong Kong, we carry the values of our sport as an antidote to the difficulties of our time.”
For more information on the Longines Masters Los Angeles, click here. For tickets, which range from $49 for reserved seats on Thursday, September 29 to $239 for premium seats on Sunday, October 2, click here.