Hagen a. TW. The 20th edition of the series of show jumping tournaments conceived by Paul Schockemöhle ended over the weekend. At the same time, the new season has begun. The series has lost importance in recent years.
When the Riders Tour began in 2001, it was referred to as the “Formula 1 of equestrian sport”. The idea of a series for jumpers with a starting capital of seven million marks (3.58 million euros) and big stages like the Hamburg Derby sounded tempting.
The stars of the scene were thrilled and competed for a record prize pool. The overall winner and therefore the “Rider of the year” received half a million marks (256,000 euros). But there isn’t much left of the visions of time.
The 20th edition of the tournament series by Paul Schockemöhle and six other financiers concluded over the weekend in the forest of Hagen am Teutoburg and immediately started the new 2022/23 season. “A great first stage and a great sport,” said the 77-year-old entrepreneur and former world-class driver at the end of the weekend.
“The level is no longer what it used to be”
At least among the top riders, enthusiasm for his series is now limited. “The level is not what it used to be,” said Marcus Ehning, the winner of the 2016 tour. “Now there are also two-star tournaments.” This is the penultimate of the five tournament categories of the World Federation FEI.
Although Ehning participated in the four-star tournament just outside Osnabrück over the weekend, his interest in the Riders Tour as a series was “zero”. Like many other world-class drivers, his schedule is in line with the Global Champions Tour. Dutch Jan Tops’ competitive series, which only started in 2006, is actually reminiscent of Formula 1 with stops like Miami or Monte Carlo and has long left the Riders Tour behind.
Top riders are attracted to the prize pool
“We were ahead of the curve,” said Ullrich Kasselmann, partner of the Riders Tour since the beginning and host of the weekend tournament in Hagen. After the turmoil of the crown pandemic, the series is now starting the new season with eight stages and for the first time in a long time there will also be tournaments overseas.
“Together with Bemer, we made it our mission to internationalize the tour,” Schockemöhle said in a statement at the end of the tournament in Hagen. Bemer is the main sponsor of the series. But Ommen in the Netherlands or Lier in Belgium definitely sound more like provinces. Unlike Doha and New York, where the Global Champions Tour is host of its 17 tournaments.
Rather, top riders are drawn to the prize pool. At the Global Tour Grand Prix it is at least three times higher than on Sunday in Hagen. And more than ten million euros will be paid out at the end of the season.
“It was wonderful for a while”
“The Riders Tour was the precursor to the Global Champions Tour, it was a very dominant series and it was good for show jumping,” said tournament organizer Volker Wulff. “It was wonderful for a while, and then a little lack of it to strengthen the series for the future. Then the Global Champions Tour came and passed.”
For a long time Wulff was part of the Riders Tour with several tournaments, including the Hamburg Derby. “The Riders Tour is gone because it doesn’t really fit anymore,” he said. “The derby is a world-class event. The Riders Tour has developed in a different direction ”. With his five-star tournaments in Hamburg and Berlin, Wulff is part of the Global Champions Tour.
However, the importance of the Riders Tour has steadily diminished. “In such a tight schedule with such attractive tournaments and series around the world, it’s a challenge for the Riders Tour to keep up,” said Dennis Peiler, Head of Sport at the FN Riding Association. “It’s a nationwide opportunity for teen couples who aren’t ranked that high in the world.”
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