There were many demonstrable examples of the success of the Longines Masters of Hong Kong this year, but none were so charming as a hand drawn illustration from a fan. When the fourth edition of this CSI5* competition was held at Asia World Expo in Hong Kong, China from February 10-12, 2017, spectators once again filled the seats and lined the warmup arena to see the stars of show jumping, up close and personal.
Young Swiss star Martin Fuchs has been attending the show since its inception, and each year that he returns, he gains new fans. This year, his fans were there to greet him, and he was kept busy posing for photos with them, and accepting gifts they brought him, including drawings they made of him.
“The people of Hong Kong really like the sport, and they know the sport—and me!—now,” Fuchs said. It’s no wonder that Fuchs has many fans in Hong Kong; his success there has been consistent, and this year included a Friday win in the $95,000 Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy.
For a country that is geographically distant from show jumping’s epicenter in Europe, the growth of the sport in Asia is due in part to the ongoing efforts by EEM, the team behind the Masters of Hong Kong, to bring the show to Asia.
And of course, from the efforts of the riders, who have gone the distance—quite literally—to compete in Asia each February.
“I’ve liked the show since the first year, it was very well organized then,” Fuchs added. “For many riders it’s a good show. You have a few different classes where you can bring two horses and make some money in different classes. You’re not just waiting for the grand prix. And the crowds, they are getting really good. It’s like a European show, just a bit further.”
Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum, who for the last decade has been heavily involved in bringing the sport to China, agrees.
“I like that it’s a new continent that is really getting more and more excited about our sport,” he said. “The recognition of show jumping in the area is getting really more and more exciting and people are more and more aware of our sport, you can really feel that and it’s nice to be part of it.”
This year, German riders had the best luck at the Masters of Hong Kong, with Longines FEI Ranked World No. 1 Daniel Deusser picking up an impressive double of Saturday wins, and Christian Ahlmann coming out victorious in the $400,000 Longines Grand Prix CSI5* of Hong Kong with his young mount Carabis Z.
“The Longines Masters of Hong Kong is a real success,” said Christophe Ameeuw, CEO and Founder of EEM. “Today, Hong Kong is reported to be the equestrian capital of Asia, and it’s a real proud moment to have brought the Longines Masters at this level. We are traveling horses and riders in three of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I think it’s the best credibility and visibility possible for our sport.”