If you talk about the International Jumping of Monte-Carlo, however, then these emotions are multiplied by the thousand. To stage this sport and lifestyle show, it requires a team that can match the logistical, athletic and communication as well as the riders themselves. This is only possible if there is one guiding feeling : passion.
Force One had the pleasure of meeting Diane Fissore in her office on the sixth floor of a prestigious palace in the centre of the Principality. Miraculously, her three phones do not ring for a few minutes, giving me time to get to know a woman with a strong and determined character, not without a certain sense of humor, her eyes sparkling just thinking about the past, while picturing the future.
F.1.M. : Diane, horses are a family affair…
D.F. : Indeed, my parents put me on horseback at the age of 4 years. I learned to ride horses before I know how to ride a bike! My father, my mother, all my brothers and sisters have ridden horses!
I studied law, but before that I studied communication and then … the chance of life made me meet Eric Wauters, Belgian Olympic medallist. We both shared a passion for horses along with my childhood friend Marie-Pierre Gramaglia. That is why we decided to found, in 1995, the Equestrian Federation of Monaco. The enthusiasm was such that only a few months later we organized our first jumping competition, at that time held in the Chapiteau of Fontvieille. Since then, except on two occasions, Jumping has been an unavoidable event of the Principality.
F.1.M. : The event has not stopped evolving, and you have been included in the Longines Global Champions Tour.
D.F. : Yes, we are now at the 12th edition of the International Jumping of Monte-Carlo held on the harbour, which is an essential stage in the Longines Global Champions Tour. We must salute the genius of the organization of Jan Tops. He has been the keystone of organizing the Longines Global Champions Tour circuit and the creator of the Global Champions League. The Jumping in Monte-Carlo represents today the best of the best in terms of the quality of riders, horses, but also in the sponsors attracted by the unique setting and its attendance.
F.1.M. : Let’s go back to the technical aspect: Could you explain how this new formula – the Global Champions League – works?
D.F. : For the first time in the history of show jumping, top riders from different countries will unite to compete on the same team ensuring electrifying competitions over a Championship season. Teams are composed by 4 to 5 top riders. At the end of the season the sum of the points obtained in each contest will determine the winning team. This formula has met with a lot of success. In 2016 we had 12 teams, this year we have 18. After the first year, following various discussions, this formula has now been fully accepted into the official program.
F.1.M. : Let’s talk about the riders. The month of June on the Côte d’Azur is very busy. Do the riders arrive here in good shape?
D.F. : The world of Jumping is extremely vast, if you look at the International calendar, there are competitions every week-end, everywhere in the world. International level riders travel all year long. Fortunately the horses change, but the riders, they always present themselves at the top!
F.1.M. : How the Monte-Carlo Event is different from others?
D.F. : Everything depends on the structure, each jumping competition is truly unique, and this makes the sport even more beautiful. For example Shanghai is totally different from Cannes, and we are also unique, with our stunning view over the harbour …
We have a relatively small track, I would say more technical … but from the other point of view, I think that getting on a smaller track is maybe easier than competing in a big space. In a small space the horse does not have time to spread, while in a bigger tracks, the horse has room to manoeuvre well to jump, but also has time to loose his balance.
F.1.M. : Another asset of this jumping is the presence of the Royal Princely Family.
D.F. : Since the beginning! H.S.H. the Prince Rainier III was always at the rendez-vous, so was H.R.H. the Princess of Hanover. Charlotte Casiraghi has been coming since a very young age, and today she is patroness of the Longines Pro-Am Cup. They are real enthusiasts! The aspect that I like to emphasize is that even though it is a very high level sports event, the spirit has remained friendly. We can talk, share … even for sponsors it’s important. A beautiful event, beautiful to see, pleasant to experience. There is no need to be specialists to have a great time.
F.1.M. : What can we expect this year?
D.F. : The event is growing, you’ll have more riders of the highest level in the world. And horses too …. !
F.1.M. : It’s true: the horse! The great protagonist!
D.F. : Riding is in my belief, the most egalitarian sport in the world. There is no difference between a mare and a stallion in levels of strength, speed, agility. And for the riders it’s the same. A 16-year-old girl can ride like a 30-year-old man, with the same dexterity, grace … horseback riding is the sport where the difference fades away!