Interview with Marco Danese, Jeroen Dubbeldam and Alessandra Ceselli

July 22. 2023


Interview with Marco Danese, Sports Director of the Global Champions Tour and the Global Champions League, Olympic winner Jeroen Dubbeldam and FEI steward Alessandra Ceselli


Marco, you travel around the world as Sports Director of the world's biggest show series Global Champions Tour. What are your first impressions of the Riesenbeck International show grounds?


Marco: This is my first time here in Riesenbeck. I had some meetings before regarding the organization of the event. I immediately had a very good feeling about this place. This is a fantastic place for show jumping and organizing an event. I think it is really a place for happy horses. The stables, the facilities, the grounds. Everything is perfect for the horses. It will be a success, I am sure of it.


Together with the founders Jan Tops, of the LGCT and GCL series, you had a plan from the beginning to take show jumping to a new level. After almost 20 years, do you still have plans to evolve?


Marco: We have grown. Not only in terms of the number of events. As you know, in the beginning we had only six events. Now we're at 16. It's a mix of different venues, small arenas, big arenas, sand, grass, daytime, nighttime. We have a lot of iconic venues and a lot of technically perfect venues for the horses like Riesenbeck, Valkenswaard. So it's a mixture of different events, which makes life a little more difficult for the horses and the riders. Because to become champion of the Longines Global Champions Tour, you have to perform in different events and at different levels.


How different was it for you to persuade riders and stakeholders?

I think everyone is happy with the system. We talk to riders and owners, exchange opinions and views and develop the system together with the stakeholders. We exchange a lot with the stakeholders to understand their needs and how they see the future of show jumping.





... Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED), Olympic Champion 2000, World Champion 2014, European Champion 2015 and regular guest at Riesenbeck International.


RI: How long have you been competing here at Riesenbeck International?


Jeroen Dubbeldam: "I have been here quite often, actually I think from the beginning. The advantage is, we live close by. But that is not the only reason why we always want to be here. The conditions here are at their best, that's why we like to ride here."


This year, the Longines Global Champions Tour is here for the first time. Even though you yourself are not competing in the five-star tour this year, how do you feel about that?


"That's right. I'm riding the three-star tour and the two-star tour with our team and with my girlfriend Annelies Vorsselmans, and then we have a couple of clients with us. One of them, Daniel Coyle (IRL, editor's note) rides with us in the Global Champions Tour and the others ride with us in the three- and two-star tour. So, enough to do! (laughs)

I am really pleased that the Global Champions Tour is now here in Riesenbeck! This tournament here deserves such a high-class event as the Global Champions Tour, because the conditions here are at their very best for the horses. I was here two years ago at the European Championships. I was very enthusiastic about how everything looked here with the grandstands ... yes everything is at its best, for the grooms, for the riders and then the great atmosphere. Now I just arrived and see that it looks the same again - so, the expectations sing big!"


And will we see Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam here again at five-star level?


"Hopefully! I'm competing with a new horse here in the three-star tour. It's a good horse, but not experienced enough for the five-star tour yet. Hopefully he will be next year and we can compete in the Global Champions Tour. The horse's name is Investment. He is a licensed stallion in Holland, ten years old and descends from Kannan, dam's sire is Emilion. And yes, this is a good horse!"




... Alessandra Ceselli (ITA), FEI Steward for all three Olympic disciplines for more than 20 years, former event rider, today also trainer and judge in addition to her work as steward.


RI: You travel around the globe as a steward. Now here in Riesenbeck for the first time. What are your first impressions?


"The stables are super! They are really horse-friendly - big boxes, clean, airy. Then the grounds in the arenas are really good. There are lots of opportunities to let the horses graze, lots of space for lunging, the arenas are big enough for lots of horses to be ridden together. There is good parking for the trucks and the catering for the grooms is great. Whenever they want, they can have food, and also the food for the horses, the hay, is really good. So from that, the first impression is very, very positive. I see a lot of show grounds. In my eyes, it's one of the better facilities in Europe right now."


Are you familiar with other Longines Global Champions Tour shows?


"I cover all Global Tour tournaments. This one is different because it's an existing facility. Normally, Global Tour tournaments are held on temporary courses. Conditions like here under the Eiffel Tower or in the middle of Rome are obviously not possible. It's a different concept. But this makes it possible to bring the sport to the people. The fact that these tournaments take place in the middle of the city means that people who have never thought about equestrian sport get to see it. Therefore, it is good for the sport that it also takes place on provisional grounds. On such like here probably no walkers with children pass by, who have no idea about equestrian sport. I live in Rome. It's been noticed that after the Global Champions Tour tournament in Rome, many riding schools got new students because they saw the Global in the city, discovered the sport and decided to take riding lessons."


As a steward, do you see any problems with the welfare of the horses during your assignments, keyword "Welfare of the Horse"?


"No, not at all. I wish people could also see inside the stables to see how much the horses are cared for, how often the horses are taken out, how they are fed and cared for. The grooms are there for them around the clock. And when you come into the barn and see how relaxed the horses are - they are sleeping, playing, eating. And they are under the supervision of a steward 24 hours a day, day and night. No, I don't see a problem there with the welfare of the horses."