Since its first edition in 2007, the prestigious Athina Onassis Horse Show became the largest international show jumping event organized in Brazil. Labeled 5 stars (CSI 5 *) for its pledge of excellence and athletic performance, this event is orchestrated by the Brazilian rider Alvaro Affonso de Miranda Neto, with his wife, Athina Onassis, to whom he paid tribute by giving her name to the event. The event was located in Sao Paulo for 2 years, and Rio de Janeiro in 2009. This year the Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show moves to France, and the beautiful site of Pampelonne beach (above), associated with the most famous international jet-set crowd and the “Myth of Saint Tropez”.
From 5th to 7th June 2014, the Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show will include two different levels of competition for a total of €569,000 prize-money. The best riders and horses in the world will compete in the 5 classes of the CSI 5*, all valid for the Longines Ranking, including the Longines Grand Prix with €300,000 prize-money (Saturday, June 7th, 5:00 pm). Six classes will be dedicated to amateurs competing in the CSI 2* for a total of sixty riders and 120 horses representing more than 15 nations.
At the head of international show jumping competitions for many years in Italy and Spain, Denis Monticolo is responsible for all the organization and logistics of the next Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show.
How was this project with Alvaro Affonso de Miranda Neto was born?
Denis Monticolo: Doda and I have been friends for ten years and we wanted to work together for a long time. So when he decided to organize the Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show in France, he asked me to work with him and I immediately agreed.
When was this project launched?
D. M.: We started the project in September 2013. Which is a little crazy, because to organize such an event in general we have a year and a half or two years. Here we have only ten months starting from a blank sheet.
Why did you choose Ramatuelle?
D. M.: The first thing to do once the project started was to choose the place. Doda and I immediately thought of the bay of Saint-Tropez and we fell in love with Ramatuelle and beach of Pampelonne. The idea of combining the place and high level equestrian sports immediately appealed to us. It is perfect to attract sponsors and the media. And the advantage of Pampelonne, is that you can get there by boat, helicopter or by car.
The challenge is twice as hard as the location isn’t intended for this type of event?
D. M.: Absolutely. When a competition is organized in a location intended for this type of event, we must do our best with what we have. When choosing a “virgin” place, the downside is that there is nothing, but we can do what we want. Here, the competition will take place in the parking lot of Tamaris, 20 meters from the beach. In addition, we are in a protected area; it is imperative not to damage anything. For example, in order not to damage the ground, it is planned to install a protective membrane between the ground and the sand of the arenas.
Apart from the protection of the site, what are the other requirements?
D. M.: We must think of every detail! Water, electricity, welcoming the horses and the competitors … The best thing is to make a checklist, because nothing can be forgotten. That is why we contacted the best specialists in each area. They help you think of everything!
Nothing could be done without a close-knit team?
D. M.: Exactly! We built a large team of French, Belgians, Italians and Dutch. We must coordinate everyone, but we have created a true group of very experienced people and this is most important.