During early spring there are plenty of showjumping tours to choose from around Europe. Some of the biggest and most popular this year have been the Z-Tour in Lanaken, the Toscana Tour in Arezzo, the Sunshine Tour in Vejer de la Frontera, the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour in Oliva, the Atlantic Tour in Comporta and the Spring Tour in Magna Racino. WoSJ spoke to some of the riders that have been out and about competing at the tours to find out what the different tours have to offer.
Geir “Jimmy” Gulliksen on the Z-Tour in Lanaken;
“I have to say that I really liked the Z-Tour; it was a very well organized tour. First of all it worked very well with all the different rings. All the competitions went smoothly; they kept to the time schedule and all those that were at work in the different rings kept things moving forward. Secondly there was a nice place to get some decent food to a sensible price from breakfast to dinner, and it was also possible to sit down inside and watch the classes in the main arena without having a table at the VIP – which is important when you are competing all day long. Last, but not the least; the organizers put up an extra ranking class on the last day in addition to the Grand Prix – so that those not qualified still got the chance to earn some points. That I thought was great!”
Katharina Offel on the Toscana Tour in Arezzo;
“I’ve been to the Toscana Tour for nine years in a row, and I really like it there. The main reason I go there is the grass arena; it’s really good to prepare the horses there for the outdoor season and especially for the younger horses as they can find it a little bit spooky. The footing in the grass arena is also really good; you can ride there whatever the weather. I also like that they have covered-up warm-ups and there is an indoor if there is really bad weather. The stables are nice and also permanent, so the horses feel a little bit more like home. Another good thing is that it’s not too far to go to there from Germany, which makes it all a little easier.”
Harrie Smolders on the Atlantic Tour in Vilamoura;
"We know the organizers really well, and were there when they had the tour five or six years ago. Then they told us they would start the tour again this winter so we went back there. It is a really nice show in a great area and it is close to the sea. It is also a very friendly show. We went there with 17 horses - Jamal had three and Jos and me the other 14.
They have three arenas - two on sand and one on grass. It was about 600 horses there for the tour, so it is not that huge and the classes are not crazy big. It is still more like a show, and not only like training with huge classes. Then the good results just made the show even better!"
Cian O’Connor on the Spring Tour in Magna Racino;
”Magna Racino is a beautiful facility, and it’s a great place to prepare the horses well for the outdoor season. We brought along eight horses; four for me to ride, two for my rider Ross and two for Nicole who I train. The prize money is good, and there are lots of classes with ranking points – I picked up about 200 ranking points while I was there.
I find that the show ground is a cut above the rest; the preparation arenas are very good with a selection of indoor, outdoor and grass arenas and it’s nice to go hacking as well. They have classes from 1.15 to 1.55 so it’s really something for everybody and they think of everything! I also have to say that the course designing was really good and varied, with Stefan Wirth and Alan Wade doing the courses. The fences were also good, and spooky enough to prepare the horses for the big shows coming up such as the Global Champions Tour and the Nations Cups.
During the last weekend the owner, Mr. Stronach, did a unique gesture and invited all the riders and the owners to a gala dinner, which was really special and such a nice thing to do.”
Yves Houtackers on the Sunshine Tour in Vejer de la Frontera;
“I have been to the Sunshine Tour four times, and every time we stayed for the whole tour. This year we had 19 horses with us, and I had three pupils who competed there.
The tour in Vejer is special because of its facilities. When you stay in one location for five weeks, it's important to have a variety of places to ride the horses and Vejer is really good in this regard. For some people, six showing rings might be intimidating – but it makes a great variety for the horses and the management is very accommodating there. The footing in Vejer is exceptional as well, and the prize money is also very good.
I also find the tour to be very well organized. The management allows each professional to manage their own schedule which is great for those of us with a lot of horses and students. It is easy to enter, and start orders are readily available.
All this – together with the warm-up rings and the stabling – is what make Vejer so special. I also have to mention that the courses are very good as well. There is every different fence height to show in, so you can make a perfect plan for each horse. And the training ring is brilliant as well; even to practice the water jump. And don’t forget the restaurants!”
Lisen Bratt Fredricson on the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour in Oliva Nova;
"We went to Oliva Nova this year because we got it as a tip from Jessica Kürten who had been there last year. The last years we have been in Arezzo, but we felt it was time to try something new. It was also a bit cheaper to go to Oliva Nova. It was a good tour with not too big classes and with really good surfaces, especially on the sand arenas where there were a lot of fiber in the sand.
Since they have a golf club nearby that is almost empty this time of year we could rent a house really close by for a good price. The logistics at the show are great, and the Spanish people were really helpful and friendly! There are good training possibilities there, great stabling and it is nice to be able to ride on the beach. It looks like we will go back to Oliva Nova next year as well."
Thanks to Geir, Kathi, Harrie, Cian, Yves and Lisen for their contributions!