The fifth season of the 2015 Longines FEI World Cup China League is underway and even though the series is in its infancy it continues to make big steps towards becoming a league to be reckoned with. The first five years has laid a solid foundation, not only for the World Cup League but for the sport of equestrianism in China. Collaboration between the Chinese firm CNSI and the German firm EN GARDE Marketing GmbH has lead to Year by year the growth of fans, riders, supporters and horse lovers increases, which can be seen by the increase of participants and spectators each year.
The field of 26 riders in the opening qualifier provided a tense atmosphere with Zhao (Daniel) Zhiwen, the winner of the fourth season from China taking the lead as 23rd to go, only to be knocked into second by the last starter British Rider Simon Buckley. The qualifier set the stage for the first World Cup Grand Prix of the 2015 league. Four riders managed to navigate successfully the tough track built by Swiss course designer Paul Weier. Simon Buckley (GBR), Raena Leung (HKG), Patrick Lam (HKG) and Han John Zhuangzhuang (CHN), entered into the jump off all in hopes of taking the opening leg title.
The top spot in the Chinese League would only be fought between three competitors but the money was to be fought for between all four. Patrick Lam, topped the others winning the class, with Raena Leung taking second, a Hong Kong sweep similar to that of the league in 2012. Simon Buckley, slipped into third place while Han John just missed out on a place on the podium finishing fourth but will still collect third place points in the Chinese League and remain in contention for finishing at the top of the league in the final. Top riders Uli Kirchhoff 96 Olympic Champion and Denis Lynch, multiple Grand Prix winner and current world number 25 also competed having 1 rail each finishing 8th and 5th respectively.
The second stage will take place on the 1st - 3rd of May seeing the Chinese riders fight it out for the top spot before the final of the Chinese League in October and the all important ticket to Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping - Final in Gothenburg next April!
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