Interview with Diane Fissore and Edwina Tops-Alexander - Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping

Published on June 10, 2022Updated on June 19, 2023

From 30 June to 2 July 2022, Port Hercules in Monaco will host the 16th edition of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Monaco – Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping. This prestigious and legendary event welcomes the best horses and riders from around the globe. We speak with Edwina Tops-Alexander, award-winning showjumper, and Diane Fissore, organiser of the competition and president of the Monaco Equestrian Foundation.

Of the 20 rounds that make up the prestigious Longines Global Champions Tour, what makes the Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping event stand out in your opinion?

Diane Fissore: Monaco has always been a special part of the Longines Global Champions Tour since the very beginning. The location is exceptional, in the heart of the Principality, between the yachts of Port Hercules and the walls of the Palais Princier. Just a few weeks earlier, the Formula 1 race was held in the very spot where the horses will be. Everything is built bespoke for the Show Jumping event, including the courses, terraces, lodges and stables, and everything is completed with a spirit of excellence that is renewed each year. Thanks to this constant reinvention, the Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping competition has become the third biggest sport event of the Principality, behind the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Tennis Masters, and is renowned in the show jumping world.


Organising a show jumping course at Port Hercules, right at the foot of the Rock of Monaco... At the start, the idea might have seemed a bit crazy, no? What makes this competition a true sport event and special part of the tour?

D.F: Why ‘crazy”? Monaco has always been a place where the most ambitious ideas come to life. It’s thanks to such daring companies that the world advances. At the start of the Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping competition, the event was held under the Chapiteau of Monaco. And then we decided to make it bigger, and the Jumping event moved to Port Hercules at the start of the Longines Global Champions Tour. We knew we had to grow and support that idea in order to make it happen.

As a showjumper, being right in Port Hercules, hooves practically touching the water, what is that experience like?

Edwina Tops-Alexander: Yes, the jumping course in Monaco is really unique. The atmosphere is fantastic. Right next to the port and bringing together the very best jumpers... It’s really a special event. The availability of the courses makes the competition a bit more difficult, of course, more demanding, but that’s what makes it even more exciting for the spectators. They are so close that you really feel their presence! That’s also part of the magic of the Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping event.


How would you describe the spectators at the Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping event?

E.T.A: Enthusiastic and passionate! The fans truly respect the sport and come to admire the incredible horses, the very high-level jumpers and see a spectacular show.


D.F: We have an incredible audience. I won't tell you who is coming to the event, but during the three days of the Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping event, I can tell you that it's the most secure place in the world given how many private and official security services there are. The Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping competition has become a high-society event while at the same time maintaining its identity as a sport event. Like Edwina says, because the lodges and terraces are close to the courses, it could be a bit more intense than in other locations. Regular attendees know that the Monaco courses are extremely technical and they demand the highest level of skill from the horses and jumpers. The spectators react to the successes and failures, and the entire Port Hercules can enjoy the show.


What are your favourite competitions, Edwina Tops Alexander?

E.T.A: The Global Champions League, of course, as well as the Monaco Grand Prix du Prince.


And what are your best memories as a jumper?

E.T.A: I will never forget our win with Charlotte Casiraghi, during the Longines Pro-Am Cup in 2014. And last year, I finished in fifth place at the Grand Prix, after a difficult competition. I was very satisfied and it was a truly fantastic feeling right before participating in the Tokyo Olympic Games.


And for you, Diane Fissore?

D.F: There are so many! The first times, of course: the first time at Fontvieille, the first time at Port Hercules. And I have a soft spot for the jumpers that we watched grow up on our Monaco courses. I remember the pony we gave to Charlotte Casiraghi at Fontvieille, then when she became a sponsor of the Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping event and then the Longines Pro-Am Cup. Each Grand Prix du Prince is special. And of course, there’s everything the public doesn't see, the unexpected emergencies that we must handle, such as this year when the course spotlights lost power right before the Grand Prix and live on Eurosport, and they needed a half-hour to turn back on. These big, stressful moments must be managed gracefully with a smile and in time will become great memories.

In terms of organisation, can you tell us about the team that is the driving force behind the Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping event?

D.F: The Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping event is, above all, run by a solid team that comes together year after year for the event. Each person knows their role and all the other roles, which means we have a lot of flexibility to change if needed. As in every event planning business, adaptability is our speciality. Some people work for the event year round, and others come from local teams or elsewhere. Therein lies the beauty of such an international event: we are able to bring together a depth of talent and experience for a common project. With each new event, everyone comes back as if the previous event was just yesterday or as if it was a family reunion.


What can you tell us about the partnership of more than 15 years between you and Jan Tops, creator of the Longines Global Champions Tour?

D.F: In addition to being a top-notch athlete and jumper, Jan Tops is also an exceptional visionary. His ideas have revolutionised the show jumping world and has brought much attention to our sport. We have worked hand in hand since the start of the Tour, and we support each other. Without the Longines Global Champions Tour, the Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping event would not be what it is today, and vice versa.


Since it began in 1995, how have you seen the Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping event evolve?

D.F: Since it started in Fontvieille to the 2022 Jumping event, if we look at each year, we can see that the Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping competition is always changing. As I said earlier, we’re always seeking excellence. We do so in order to offer our athletes and our spectators the best of the sport and the best of our hospitality. And we also evolve in order to surprise people and renew interest, such as when we created the Longines Pro-Am Cup. That’s truly one of the recipes for success for the Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping competition.


What are your hopes for the 2022 edition?

E.T.A: One of my goals this year is to win the Monaco Grand Prix... And to take a photo, holding my trophy, with the Prince! Of course, the team competition within the Global Champions League is a big priority for me. We won the championship with Valkenswaard United last year. We want to aim just as high this year!


D.F: For me, after a tricky 2021 year because of the pandemic, I hope that this year highlights the excellence of the sport, but also the return of a relaxed, care-free environment that was a bit sidelined in recent years. Monte-Carlo is a party city!


Edwina Tops-Alexander, to finish, you're featured in this 2022 edition. Does that intimidate you or make you very proud?

E.T.A: It’s a wonderful honour, of course, and even more so given that it's a competition in the country where I live.

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