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The world’s elite riders back in the ring at Hubside Jumping Grimaud: “It is a positive message to our community”

Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Interview

Photo © Hubside Jumping/Filippo Gabutti This week, Denis Monticolo and his team are bringing back high-level jumping at Hubside Jumping Grimaud – a much-needed boost for the sport following a three-month break in the CSI calendar due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo © Hubside Jumping/Filippo Gabutti.

 

Text © World of Showjumping 

 


 

Denis Monticolo is well known for the production of some of the most beautiful jumping events in the world, such as the Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show in Saint-Tropez, the X-Bionic® Sphere jumping events in Samorin as well as the Hubside Jumping events in Grimaud. This week, Monticolo and his team are bringing back high-level jumping at Hubside Jumping Grimaud – a much-needed boost for the sport following a three-month break in the CSI calendar due to the Covid-19 pandemic. World of Showjumping speaks with Monticolo to hear more about how the Hubside Jumping-team has been working relentlessly during lock-down, refusing to give up hope. 

“Actually, we always believed that there would be a chance to go ahead with our Hubside Jumping events in Grimaud in June and July,” Monticolo tells. “When the pandemic broke out, we quickly changed our scheduled dates from spring to the start of summer. From the very beginning Mr. Fegaier – honorary president of the event and owner of Haras des Grillons – believed that these summer shows would be possible. He urged us to be ready for when restrictions would be lifted. While everything was in a frozen state, we stayed in touch with all our partners so that we all would be in a position to start up as quickly as possible. We owe a huge thanks to Mr. Fegaier, who has been a big believer in bringing the sport back this fast.”

“We are also in a lucky situation in Grimaud, as Haras des Grillons is a permanent facility that we can build a temporary structure around. This makes the risk of planning and producing such an event lower,” Monticolo says. “We have been working with the same construction partners all along, and have had a close dialogue with them about the national measures – each time a government announcement has been made, we have had a meeting to assess our next steps when it comes to the possibility of the events. This has all made it possible to have such an immediate start.”

Photo © Hubside Jumping/Filippo Gabutti Denis Monticolo and Sadri Fegaier, honorary president of Hubside Jumping Grimaud and owner of Haras des Grillons. "We owe a huge thanks to Mr. Fegaier, who has been a big believer in bringing the sport back this fast,” Monticolo says. Photo © Hubside Jumping/Filippo Gabutti.

“Furthermore, we have had a very good connection to the local authorities. Naturally, we follow all limitations set out by the municipality here. We know there are rules to follow, and that we have to be careful – but this does not mean that it is impossible to organise these kinds of events,” Monticolo explains. “Jumping is an individual sport, it is a non-contact sport and together with the measures that have been implemented there is a very, very limited risk if no risk at all.”

“Personally, I also feel that the jumping community needed some positive news after spending months in a frozen state. While we all have to accept that the pandemic still exists and will have to be careful, we also need to get back to our lives and to our work,” Monticolo says. 

The Hubside Jumping Covid-19 protocol has been outlined based on national measures, and kicks in from the moment the grooms and riders arrive with their horses. “Upon arrival, trucks will be disinfected,” Monticolo says. “We will provide everyone with hand sanitisers as well as masks. My impression is that by now, everyone is aware of the social distancing rules as well as hygiene measures – and respects this. People take responsibility.”

“Due to the current national regulations, groups bigger than ten people is not allowed. Hence, we will be operating under social distancing requirements on the entire show ground,” Monticolo says. “The group of riders is limited, and we will also limit the access to our venue – at least for the first week of the event. Starting from the second week, as indicated by the French Equestrian Federation, we would be able to welcome a bigger number of riders as well as open the doors to a wider number of spectators – always respecting the requirements from the local authorities. Naturally, we will be prudent about this but our structure here at Haras des Grillons gives us a huge advantage seeing that it is such a big space.”

Photo © Hubside Jumping/Sportfot The beautiful venue at Hubside Jumping Grimaud. "Our structure here at Haras des Grillons gives us a huge advantage seeing that it is such a big space," Monticolo tells. Photo © Hubside Jumping/Sportfot.

“For the warm-up, we have a ring sized 100 x 50 meters and a pool of stewards that will be limiting the access,” Monticolo explains. “Our hospitality will also operate under strict social distancing rules, and with service only at the tables.”

As to how the 2020 indoor season will develop, Monticolo is far from certain. “It is very difficult to give a forecast right now, and I think a lot of organisers are faced with big challenges – certainly those that still are looking at going ahead with big events such as Equita Lyon and Jumping Verona. They have to decide now, although no one can say with any certainty where we are in five months’ time. For the X-Bionic® Sphere, I am working on going ahead with two indoor shows in Samorin in October and November but those are totally different concepts and not mass-gathering events. At the moment, I wish all my organising colleagues the best of luck because this indoor season won’t be easy for anyone.”

“While I believe that we still will see the big companies back sponsoring our sport, I also think we have to look at how to be creative under the current economic circumstances,” Monticolo says. “The FEI has tough requests and rules in place, but it is also important that they help the organisers find a way in terms of financing. The Alliance of Jumping Organisers are in conversation with the FEI and we hope they are positive to some of our proposals. We need to find a sustainable solution for many 2*, 3* and 4* organisers so that they can survive.”

For Hubside Jumping, the show goes on though – all the way out October 2020. “After our four weeks here, Hubside Jumping moves to Valence for two weeks of five-stars in August. Then we come back to Grimaud for September and October. I think the initiative made by Mr. Fegaier is fantastic for the top riders, as it at this point is the only option they have to compete at this level. It is a positive message to our community, and an initiative purely taken because of Mr. Fegaier’s love and passion for the sport," Monticolo closes off.

 

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