- I recently attended the Longines Global Champions Tour as a VIP guest of Longines.
- The horse-jumping event was rumoured to be attended by the likes of Michael Bloomberg and Bruce Springsteen, both of whom have professional equestrian daughters who were competing in the event.
- I spent five hours at the event, which more or less entailed sampling the extensive food offerings, watching horses trotting and jumping in the ring, and – oh yes, of course: interviewing tennis legend Andre Agassi.
- Here’s what it was like to attend as a VIP.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Recently, I was invited to attend the finale of the 2019 Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT).
The event, which took place on Governors Island on September 28, was the equestrian event’s debut in New York. The LGCT is a globe-spanning competition, gathering the most accomplished riders and horses from around the world. This year, they competed at 19 events in cities around the world before finally ending the competition in New York City.
Read more: Inside the glamorous life of Bruce Springsteen’s daughter Jessica, an elite equestrian who’s earned over $US1 million in prize money competing against the daughters of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates
The likes of Michael Bloomberg and Bruce Springsteen were also rumoured to be at the event – though I didn’t see them myself, other reporters in attendance told me they’d seen the two. Bloomberg and Springsteen each have a daughter who is a professional equestrian. Georgina Bloomberg and Jessica Springsteen both competed, as did the former’s team, New York Empire.
Here’s a look at what the VIP experience was like at this equestrian event.
The Longines Global Champions Tour was held on Governor’s Island, a 172-acre island just about half a mile south of Manhattan.
Luxury watch brand Longines served as the event’s title partner and official timekeeper. The company invited me to attend the event as their guest, with a seat at their table in the VIP tent.
I attended the event on behalf of Ana Martins Communications, the PR firm that represents Longines.
First, I needed to get to the ferry terminal to travel to Governors Island. I had two options: leaving from Battery Maritime Building, located at 10 South Street in Lower Manhattan, or from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. I live in Brooklyn, so I opted for the latter.
Because I was running a bit behind and in a rush, I decided to hop in an Uber to get to the ferry terminal faster. In retrospect, the R train easily would have gotten me there in roughly the same amount of time.
I made it to the ferry terminal just as it began loading passengers. People were already lined up, but I got a spot on the top deck.
The ferry ride is about 8 minutes long. People were standing up to snap photos of the skyline as the boat cruised onwards. There was apparently a special, separate VIP ferry service to the island, but I didn’t see it, and given that I was running late, I didn’t want to risk missing the “regular” ferry.
As the wind picked up, I soon regretted both sitting outside on the upper deck and have spent time blowing out my hair.
Not everyone on the ferry was heading to the Longines event, but some people clearly were.
When I got off the ferry, I saw someone in a Longines staff shirt. I asked him where I should go to check in at press. He advised me to keep following the crowd and I’d eventually see a sign for the press tent.
After a couple of false starts, turnarounds, and a golf cart ride to the wrong entrance, I finally made it to the correct VIP entrance to the event.
As I walked towards the VIP tent, I had to cross the course, which brought me right up close to the animals and their riders.
En route to the VIP section, I passed by the general public attendees, who were seated in bleachers. There was free admission for the public across all three days.
Source: Global Champions Tour
Finally, I made it to the air-conditioned VIP tent. A staff member checked me in and gave me a wristband before leading me over to the Longines table where I would be seated to watch the event.
Longines products and advertisements were placed everywhere – which made sense, given that they’re the title sponsor of the event.
There were more tables in the VIP tent than I expected. But it was a large, well-situated area, so it didn’t feel crowded.
I had a perfect view of the course from where I was seated — which was right next to the table set aside for Georgina Bloomberg (the daughter of former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg) and New York Empire, the equestrian team she owns.
I didn’t personally see the former mayor, but another attendee told me they’d spotted him. Bloomberg did attend his daughter’s post-event party later that evening, according to Business Insider’s sources.
Donna Karan was also apparently at the event on Saturday. I didn’t spot her either.
I did, however, see Georgina’s 5-year-old son Jasper at the event – he and other members of the family/Georgina’s entourage were seated at the New York Empire table right by me. He was wearing a miniature version of the same riding outfit his mum had on, and he stayed for much of the hours-long competition.
My table was also right near the table where Charles Villoz, the VP of Longines, and Andre Agassi, retired tennis pro and the brand’s “Elegance Ambassador,” were seated.
Most VIP attendees were closely watching the event. I heard plenty of gasps (as horses didn’t quite clear jumps) and claps (when a rider finished the course with a particularly good time).
But people were also chatting and laughing amongst themselves. And, of course, enjoying the food.
There were numerous food and beverage stations set up around the tent, and they remained open and available throughout the entire event. First, I hit up a smoothie bar.
I asked the smoothie maker what she suggested and ended up with a raspberry-cranberry blend.
There was an extensive selection of food, from a carving station to a pasta station, where a chef cooked you up whatever pasta or risotto dish you wanted.
Over the course of the roughly five hours I spent at the event, I had a bit of everything. I mean, how could you not?
All of it was fantastic.
I particularly enjoyed a Bloody Mary, which had the perfect amount of spice.
Roughly midway through the event, members of the press were invited to go onto the course for the “Course Walk,” which is the only chance the riders have to walk the course themselves and count out how many paces are in between each jump.
If you didn’t watch your back, you might get run over by an equestrian striding across the course.
I didn’t realise how high the jumps actually were until I saw people walking near them.
Agassi also joined in on the course walk, posing for official event photos and chatting with the riders.
Later on, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with renowned former tennis pro myself.
I asked him about his role as an “Elegance Ambassador” for Longines, his initiative building charter schools for underserved youth in his home state of Nevada, and what he thinks of the trend of pro athletes wearing their pricey, flashy watches while playing.
Agassi was personable and friendly, not at all pretentious. He was happy to chat about his education initiative and the current state of tennis.
Eventually, I had to use the restroom. I had mentally prepared myself for a porta-potty situation, but these mobile toilets were actually sparkling clean.
I also tried on a few watches. Longines had left samples of some of their newer collections out on the table for us to look at.
This particular model – the new Conquest Classic, a 34mm stainless steel watch with a navy blue dial – was one of my favourites and retails for $US950.
In the end, Ben Maher of the United Kingdom was crowned the winner, with Pieter Devos of Belgium and Daniel Deusser of Germany coming in second and third place respectively.
Having never attended an equestrian event before, I was surprised by how easy it was to follow — and how easy it was to get invested.
I found myself holding my breath as the event was nearing its end, genuinely excited to see which rider would walk away with the champion title.
The most memorable bit for me was seeing incredible moments, like the above shot of Dani G. Waldman mid-jump, up close.
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