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Beautiful horses and glamorous people came together at the convention center this weekend for the Longines Los Angeles Masters Grand Slam.
Where else can you see the world’s top show jumpers, Hollywood stars, industry leaders and designer brands including Kingsland Equestrian, Gucci, Lexus, and, of course, Longines, all in one place?
The Masters took over downtown L.A., which is more often filled with Lakers or Kings fans heading to Staples Center.
Among the thousands attending the four-day event are the famous parents of aspiring riders, including Bruce Springsteen, to watch daughter Jessica, Bill and Melinda Gates, to watch daughter Jessica, and BET founder Robert L. Johnson, supporting daughter Paige.
The equestrian extravaganza kicked off on Thursday night with an opulent gala where A-list guests mingled with horse fanatics browsing high-end equipment brands including stingray skin riding boots that would be just as fitting at a red carpet premiere. As the rich smell of leather mixed with champagne and appetizers, Judith Hill belted out her hits from 20 Feet From Stardom while dancing horses showed off their graceful moves in the arena under the expert handling of Clemence Faivre.
Included in the activities during the four-day event are the Longines Speed Challenge, the Charity Pro-Am Style & Competition, featuring celebrity riders such as Jessica Springsteen and actressKaley Cuoco, and the Longines Grand Prix rounding off the competition on Sunday, when the jumps will reach six feet high over intricate courses.
Two-star Michelin chef Yves Mattagne of Belgium catered to VIPs, while the 25 best riders in the world competed for a total prize money of $1 million at the new sister event of the prestigious Gucci Paris Masters.
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“The Masters shows are unlike other horse shows. It’s really wonderful to sit and drink champagne. It’s a high level of competition, but it’s very beautiful,” said Georgina Bloomberg, 31, a champion rider who is one of the top competitors.
On Friday afternoon, Magnum P.I. star Tom Selleck’s daughter Hannah Selleck competed in the Prestige event on Barla.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was on the grounds later that night, having expressed his excitement over the event, which “not only showcases the best of the equestrian world but showcases downtown Los Angeles and will serve to attract other the championship-caliber events to our city,” he said, adding that he was “especially excited about California’s own Lucy Davis and Richard Spooner as they compete for the top prize in Sunday’s Grand Prix.
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“When I heard that this was taking place, I was so excited to have a five star event here where the best horses and riders are going to compete is like a dream come true for me. I really hope it continues on for many years,” German-American rider Meredith Michaels Beerbaum, who was raised in Hidden Hills but now lives in Germany, told The Hollywood Reporter.
“The West Coast was always looked upon a little bit behind the rest of the world in terms of equestrianism, that’s not to say we don’t have great riders but we didn’t have the depth of the east coast.
Beerbaumbecame the first female rider to compete on the German national team in 1999 and has since won gold medals for her country and holds the title of being the only woman to make it to number one in the world.
For those who don’t watch normally show jumping, “it is important to reflect that it is a horse and rider combination. It is not just a good rider and it is not just a good horse — it is this rapport that makes the best stand out,” she tells THR. “We are not talking about a tennis racket or a golf club, we are talking about a live animal with moods and feelings. It is pretty impressive to see the heights of fences and technicalities of the courses.”
Switzerland’s Jane Richard Philips took home top prize in the speed challenge on Friday, beating out Springsteen, who had her parents cheering on from the VIP area. After the exhilarating completion, the Boss was overheard asking Jessica, 22, “if she needed a ride home.”
On Saturday afternoon, The Hollywood Reporter Trophy was won by Californian Bliss Heers on Contendra, who battled it out against the clock to defeat Karianne Boyce-Lockhart, from Oregon, riding Ferro Dc, to take the $33,500 prize. Jennifer Gates finished in third place with Lord Levisto.
Tennis star Andre Agassi and wife Steffi Graf were among the stars on the grounds on Saturday for the Charity Pro Am Style & Competition to benefit 11 charities in a relay race – with each choosing their own music and costume theme.
Las Vegas native Agassi chose a showgirls theme for his team, while Jessica Springsteen opted for “Age of Aquarius” style hippies and Jessica Gates tapped into the speed of Fast and Furious.
The colorful contest was judged by Sebastian Roché, TV fashion expert Jeannie Mai, and fashion designer, Ariana Rockefeller, with 2008 Olympic Team Gold medalist Laura Kraut and Hannah Selleck — as Catwoman and Poison Ivy — being crowned the winners.
Mai wisely wore “grass-friendly shoes,” she told THR, saying she was looking for “Poise, style, but I want to see talent, I want to see what people have brought to the occasion.”
Chin Han, who stars in Netflix’s Marco Polo original series, had never been around horses before. “Born and raised in Singapore, there are not too many horse shows,” he told THR. “If you asked me about rickshaws, I could tell you,” he joked.
“It’s a very rarified sport and a very small community even internationally,” explained 12 Years a Slave actress Alfre Woodard, adding that she was happy people were able to enjoy the expertise of how you work with horses.”
The final event of the weekend, the Longines Grand Prix with a prize of $475,000 on the table, was won by eighteen-year-old Belgian rider, Jos Verlooy. With a final time of 38.11 seconds, he stated calmly: “It’s a great feeling. My horse [Domino] jumped super,” over the fences reaching 1.6 meters or 5 foot 2 inches high.
Georgina Bloomberg also competed in the big event, with father and former mayor Michael Bloomberg giving her a congratulatory kiss after her round, in front of the sold out crowd that included Angelica and Danny Huston, James Caan, Malin Akerman, Springsteen and Patti Scialfa, Alison Sweeney, Arielle Kebbel and Dave Caruso.
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EEM World CEO Christophe Ameeuw, who founded the Masters Grand Slam (the third leg is in Hong Kong), predicted 50,000 spectators at the L.A. event, which was broadcast by Fox Sports. “All over the world, equestrian sports are growing at a fast pace,” he said. During the past decade, the number of elite equestrian competitions almost has doubled globally.
The event will now head to France for the Gucci Paris Masters on December 4-7, 2014.
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