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Carlo Rossi Soffia
steering the boat in the right direction
Carlo Rossi Soffia, entrepreneur, businessman, Chairman of the Valparaiso Sporting Club, as well as Chairman of the OSAF, the South American Organization for the Development of Thoroughbreds, would not disagree with the theory that children are often more influenced by their peers than by their parents.
After all, it was his grandfather who walked him out of the family home in Viña del Mar, a beautiful Chilean seaside resort and favourite vacation spot for Santiago’s residents, across the road to the Valparaiso Sporting Club, home of the Chilean Derby. “Yes my grandfather was responsible for a lot of things,” smiles Rossi, who became a member of the board of the famous racecourse in 1995 and who has been at its helm for nearly twenty years. He sits back and tries to relax, following an intense week of board meetings, elections, celebrations and the running of the Longines Gran Premio Latinoamericano. “My grandfather was Italian and when he arrived in Chile, he and some friends got together and got interested in racing. In fact, my grandfather first registered his colours in 1945.”
The Valparaiso Sporting Club is an institution in Chile. It is known all over the country thanks to 132 years of crowning the winner of the derby. Run traditionally on the first weekend in February, the meeting attracts over 100,000 spectators who spill from the beautifully conserved wooden stands into the infield, where they enjoy a festive and family friendly atmosphere. In the 1960s, when Rossi was growing up in Viña Del Mar, it was also the home to the Sporting Equestrian Club, where he would spend most of his teenage years riding Chilean horses. “I love the Chilean horse and still ride today, when I have time, at my farm in the South of Chile,” he explains with enthusiasm. “I go there with my family and we all ride together. I also have some racehorses that I own together with friends, so a lot of time is spent with horses.”
Time is very precious in Rossi’s life. He likes to be active and involved in many activities, so at the beginning of the year he puts up a big calendar and together with family and business partners he figures out where to be when and for how long. Despite his busy timetable, he never lets the stress get to him though. Quite to the contrary, he is always very composed and accommodating, which is remarkable considering that he is deeply involved in the family owned logistic company, the Valparaiso Sporting Club, the OSAF, as well as various other business interests that include real estate and retail, to name but just a few. In 2017, a day before the successful running of the Longines Gran Premio Latinoamericano, which the Valparaiso Sporting Club hosted for the first time, Carlo Rossi Soffia was elected Chairman of the OSAF, an organisation that has undergone some fundamental changes over the last six years.
“Marcel Zarour, my predecessor, had travelled extensively to Europe and together with some other people in the industry took the view that the OSAF needed to be reformed if South American racing wanted to remain competitive in the international market,” explains Rossi. “Steps were hence taken to mirror OSAF on the IFHA (International Federation of Horseracing Authorities). First, we opened our own offices in San Isidro, near the racecourse. It was then given a proper legal structure and we also created various committees, like the welfare committee or the handicappers committee.”
The OSAF, which was created as early as 1958 and is in fact older than the IFHA, has certainly reinvented itself over the last few years, but many more challenges lie ahead, as Rossi continues: “One of the main concerns we are currently dealing with is the doping issue. The OSAF board feels that we need a zero tolerance policy when it comes to doping. At the moment, we don’t have our own laboratory, so samples from the horses have to be sent abroad and often it takes up to thirty days before we get the results. During that time a horse might have run again, which could be a problem. To attract new people to the races and in order to keep our punters happy, we must be completely transparent. Hence, we are currently working hard to establish our own laboratory in San Isidro, Argentina. With our own lab, we would get the results much quicker. Hopefully, it is only a matter of time before we get the certificate." The OSAF organises nearly 22,000 races a year in their member countries, which represents over 14% of the world’s races. All over South America, as well as in the rest of the world, the racing industry relies on the revenues generated from horserace betting and it is hence vitally important that the rapport and trust between the different racecourses and its clientele remains intact. In an era of social media, television and easy travelling, South American horses have also become much more visible and Rossi confirms: “For the last three years, South American horses have been included in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings. We work very closely with the Irish handicapper Ciaran Kennelly, who in turn works together with our South American handicappers and it has been a very successful venture.” Following the running of the Longines Gran Premio Latinoamericano, the Argentine winner Sixties Song was awarded a rating of 119 and Rossi proudly declares: “It was the first time the Valparaiso Sporting Club hosted this race and I was quite worried about how things would turn out. But in the end, it was a success, as the highest rated horse in the race, the San  Pelligrini winner, won.” He sits back, much more relaxed now that the event is over and concludes: “I cannot express enough how much the OSAF has changed and that is also thanks to the partnership with Longines. Thanks to Longines we were able to increase the prize-money of the Latino, which puts it firmly on the world map. Being part of Longines gives us more visibility and it allows us to attract new customers. Since the arrival of Longines we have been able to create many other events around the Latino, so more people come and get involved in the sport and that is what we want. When you are passionate you want to share it, don’t you?” Passion is written in capital letters in Carlo Rossi Soffia’s world. He has many of them and above all his family and his horses. But he is also an avid sailor, who loves to take his boat out into the waters of Chile’s most famous harbour of Valparaiso, where he has weathered many storms. Standing now at the helm of the OSAF, there is no doubt, he will be steering it into the right direction. [Liz Price]
South American horseracing on the rise
Horseracing in South America is a colourful, passionate and very enjoyable event. A continent that was built on horseback and where gauchos are a national symbol, horseracing is as much a tradition and part of the people’s history as it is in England, which is often viewed as the birth country of the sport.
Horses are intrinsically linked with the South American landscape. When the first European settlers came to Argentina, they actually believed they had found the cradle of the modern horse, so overawed were they by the vast numbers of wild horses roaming the Pampas. With the European settlers came the desire to race horses against each other and soon racecourses were built all over the continent. Today, South America boasts some of the world’s finest examples of racecourse architecture. The Club Hípico de Santiago in Chile, where racing began in 1870, is not only the oldest racecourse of the country, but stands out as a monument of national beauty, thanks to its splendid and sumptuous design, reflecting the culture and importance of the horse within the South American society.

Racecourses need racehorses and the continent is reputed for its many breeding operations. In fact, more than 17,000 foals (thoroughbred) are born each year on the continent. This is an impressive figure, considering that about 110,000 births are recorded annually worldwide. South American breeders have imported European and American bloodlines for centuries, creating an industry that despite a not always stable economic climate
continues to provide employment in many different sectors, whilst staging popular and momentous sporting occasions.

Argentina, Brazil, Chile, as well as Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela are all enthusiastic horseracing nations and members of the OSAF, the South American Organization for the Development of Thoroughbreds. The OSAF plays an important role in the horseracing community in South America and is becoming more and more involved in the global racing industry, as it is working towards the internationalisation and standardisation of the sport. By mirroring the IFHA, International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, which is a non-profit organization that consists of individual members, OSAF has created various committees, including the Handicapper’s Committee, which is responsible for compiling and approving the South American Ratings. It also created the Medication, Laboratories and Horse Welfare Committee, whose mission is to promote the regional harmonization in terms of the elimination of the use of prohibited substances, as well as Pattern Race and Stud Book Committees.
“Longines is proud to be the Official Partner and the Official Watch of the OSAF. We will work together for the good of equestrian sports in a part of the world known for its horse culture”
In 2015, the Swiss watchmaker Longines became the Official Partner of the OSAF, prompting its President Marcel Zarour, who has since sadly passed away, to declare: “In the name of the OSAF, I am very proud to count on the support of Longines as OSAF’s first Official Partner and their great ​contribution for the promotion of horse racing in Latin America. It is a great achievement that allows us to promote the Longines Gran Premio Latinoamericano, which features our best thoroughbreds and supports our spirit of tradition, excellence and constant improvement.” The OSAF is indeed the driving force behind the Longines Gran Premio Latinoamericano, which is the most important weight-for-age Group 1 race in South America. Inaugurated in March 1981 at the Hipódromo Nacional de Maroñas in Uruguay, this race was created with the aspiration of uniting the best South American horses, in order to crown a true champion. To be fair to the many country members of the OSAF and to spread the sport as widely as possible, it was decided that the race should take place in a different country each year.

Hence, the racing surface, as well as the distance of the race might vary slightly, depending in which country and on what racecourse the race takes place.
For instance, the Gávea racecourse in Rio de Janeiro boasts a turf track while the Palermo racecourse in Buenos Aires has staged the race on its dirt track. Interestingly, the majority of South America’s racecourses are left-handed and only the Club Hípico in Chile is right-handed. As to the distance of the race, it mainly takes place over 2,000 meters, but occasionally is increased to 2,100, 2,200 and since 2017, even to 2,400 meters. However, one of the characteristics of this South American race that never changes, is the entry conditions. The race is always open to three-year-olds and older horses and is always a weight-for-age race. South Americans are very proud people and fiercely competitive. Hence, the Longines Gran Premio Latinoamericano produces some friendly rivalry between the competing countries and the winner returns to a true hero’s welcome, accompanied with a lot of flag waving, songs and genuine tears. Currently, it is Brazil that has recorded the highest number of victories, as ten of its representatives have won the race since its inception. It is followed by Peru with nine winners, Chile with eight, Argentina with five and Uruguay with one winner.
When Longines became the Official Partner of the OSAF, Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President of Longines and Head of International Marketing declared: “Longines is proud to be the Official Partner and the Official Watch of the OSAF. We will work together for the good of equestrian sports in a part of the world known for its horse culture.” The Longines Gran Premio Latinoamericano is one of the highlights of the South American racing season, but there are many other races in the calendar that ensure a nationwide following. A Derby, rich in tradition, is always a popular race and the South American versions are no exception. Then there are major races like the El Ensayo, the oldest stakes race in South America, which is run at the Club Hípico de Santiago in Chile, or the Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini, which is the most important and traditional race in Argentina. It is run early in December at the Hippodrome de San Isidro, which lies just outside Buenos Aires. In the tiny country of Uruguay that shot onto every racing fan’s map when its export Invasor lifted the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2006 and the Dubai World Cup in 2007, the main event of the racing season is the Gran Premio José Pedro Ramírez, which takes its runners over the 2,400 meter distance at the Hipódromo Nacional de Maroñas.

Stamina is not only needed by the racehorses in South America, but also by the racing fans. It is not uncommon to go racing as early as 9 a.m. in the morning and to leave the racecourse as late as 11 p.m. In fact, whilst most race meetings in Europe stage either six, seven, eight or nine race cards, in South America it is quite normal to have cards with a staggering 28 races! However, thanks to the amazing hospitality that is on display throughout the continent, those days literally fly by.
As women generally don’t have to pay any admission, a mixed crowd with many children usually creates a relaxed atmosphere. The 2017 edition of the Longines Gran Premio Latinoamericano, which was run for the first time at the Valparaiso Sporting racecourse, situated in the popular seaside resort of Viña Del Mar, Chile, was no exception. Over 30,000 spectators had come to the racecourse for the 22 race card, but the race everyone had come to see was obviously the Group 1 Longines Gran Premio Latinoamericano, which had attracted sixteen runners. Run for the first time in its history over the classic distance of 2,400 meters, it was won in great style by the Argentine raider Sixties Song. As always, the atmosphere was electrifying and the winner, who is now planning to travel to England to run in a race during the Royal Ascot meeting in June, was duly celebrated. Once again, the Longines Gran Premio Latinoamericano was a memorable event, already wetting the appetite for next year’s edition in Uruguay. After his resounding victory in Chile, the Alfredo Gaitan trained Sixties Song was awarded a rating of 119 in the first edition of the 2017 Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings. South America is the continent where horses still play a very active part in everyday life. And with highly competitive racehorses like Sixties Song and a professional organisation like OSAF, the continent’s racing industry is well on the way to becoming a major player in the world of thoroughbred racing. There can be no doubt, South America is on the rise! [Liz Price]
The art of racing in the
Land of the Rising Sun
Without fail, racing enthusiasts who travel to Tokyo in November to attend the Japan Cup in association with Longines will return with memories of a unique and amazing atmosphere and an afternoon of sporting events that worked like clockwork. Every racecourse and race meeting in the world has its charms, but the sheer number of Japanese racing fans, of whom many will have slept overnight outside the Tokyo racecourse in order to secure the best place on the rail or in the stand once the doors open on the morning of the Japan Cup, is simply a sight one has to see to believe. After the initial stampede to that elusive spot just in front of the finish line, accompanied by shouts and instructions from those further back, indicating those ahead to turn left or right, a hush falls over the crowd. That stillness of quiet anticipation remains firmly in place during most of the afternoon and only the odd gasp is heard when the first horses make their appearance in the parade ring. There is no loudness within the Japanese culture. That is until the horses leave the gates. Then the first roar ripples like a wave through that tightly packed stand, which can fit up to 223,000 spectators. A roar that will reach its crescendo when the horses pass the post and the winning jockey punches his fist into the air.

Yet the next morning, at the JRA (Japan Racing Association and governing body of Japanese racing) training center at Miho, which lies about two hours east of Tokyo in the Ibaraki Prefecture, the stillness is back in place. Work riders, jockeys and lads go about their morning routine with minimal noise, creating a unique atmosphere despite 500 horses walking, trotting or galloping at any given time on one of the eight different training tracks.
In fact, about 2,000 thoroughbreds are trained in Miho, which is one of two JRA operated training centers in Japan.

The Ritto training center, which lies close to Kyoto, was the first JRA training track to be built in 1969, while the larger training center of Miho was constructed in 1978. Miho is not necessarily a town that tourists will find highlighted in their Japanese guidebooks. And because of the extremely strict security measures put in place by the JRA, whose mission is to ensure the integrity and fairness of racing, it would be impossible for a tourist to stumble accidentally upon this impressive training center. On top of it, the entrance to the Miho training center is highly guarded and gaining access is just as difficult as trying to get into Fort Knox.
Unlike Europe, where horses and trainers are spoilt with the wide-open spaces of the 2,500 acres training grounds at Newmarket, England, or the 4,700 acres of grass land and forest at Chantilly, France, Japanese thoroughbreds and their respective trainers have to do with just 593 acres at Miho. Space comes at a premium in mountainous Japan, but while the Miho training center might be lacking in surface area, it is certainly not lacking in quality. In fact, Japanese thoroughbreds are successful all over the world and feature regularly in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings. In 2016 alone, Maurice, ridden by the 2016 Longines World’s Best Jockey Ryan Moore, made headlines all over the world when he literally charged past a high-class field to win the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Cup by three lengths at Sha Tin, Hong Kong, in December.
British born Ryan Moore, who has already won the Longines World’s Best Jockey title twice in his young career, regularly, spends his winters in Japan. Riding racehorses around oval shaped training tracks instead of straight grass gallops at Newmarket did not take long to get used to. However, going into lock-up the night before a Japanese race meeting, was without doubt a novelty. Horseracing is such an important industry in Japan that every imaginable step is taken to uphold the integrity of racing and that means jockeys must stay at an accommodation designated by the JRA by 9 p.m. on the eve before the Japan Cup in association with Longines. For horses, there is a similar procedure in place. At Miho, each trainer is only allowed to stable a maximum of 28 horses. He can train more horses, but they must be stabled in training centers outside Miho. However, once he decides to run a horse in a JRA organised race, that horse in question has to join the Miho training center at least ten days before the event. This allows the JRA vets to keep a close eye on the future runner. As horseracing is such a popular sport in the “Land of the Rising Sun” and as it boasts some of the highest prize-money in the world, becoming a trainer is a very much sought after profession. Yet the arduous selection process, the incredibly demanding exam and the many years of working as an assistant trainer before being allowed to set up on their own, requires more than just passion and determination, but also a lot of patience. Only a handful of people graduate each year from the JRA Racing School, but instead of setting up on their own straight away, they will have to wait until one of the existing trainers reaches the compulsory retirement age of 70. Hence, most Japanese trainers are already into their forties when they start training in their own name. Takashi Kubota, trainer of the Grade 1 Takarazuka Kinen winning mare Marialite, is rather coy when it comes to his age. He just laughs before explaining: “I actually spent some time in the UK in Newmarket with Clive Brittain. It was good to get some experience there. I now have 20 horses here in Miho. And then I have 30 more, but the others are stabled outside of Miho. It is a lot of travelling back and forth, but we are all used to it.” From the air, Miho looks like a big ant-hill. JRA branded horse transporters are in constant movement, crisscrossing along the roads, transporting up to 70 horses each morning. On the outer perimeter, the 1,200 grooms that look after the 2,000 horses are busy feeding, cleaning boxes and taking horses swimming in one of the two large equine swimming pools. And in the middle, the heart of the center, seven oval shaped and one elbow shaped training tracks are regularly used by up to 500 horses at once, working on either sand, polytrack, turf or woodchip, depending on the trainer’s instructions. As it can get very cold in Japan in the winter, the tracks are treated with salt so that they remain workable throughout the season. The JRA organises 3,450 races a year and even races on the 25th of December, which in many countries is celebrated as Christmas Day. Japan is truly “racing mad” and while Miho remains off-limits to the normal tourist, the Tokyo racecourse on the day of the Japan Cup in association with Longines is definitely worth a visit. [Liz Price]
Simon Baker
distinguished guest at the Japan Cup in association with Longines
The Japan Cup in association with Longines, of which the Swiss watch brand has been Official Partner, Official Timekeeper and Official Watch since 2014, is nothing short of an institution in Japan. The legendary race is a shining example of the successful combination of sporting prowess and elegance. The 2016 edition of the internationally renowned event was graced with the presence of Simon Baker, Longines Ambassador of Elegance. The perfect opportunity to follow the Australian actor on his visit to the Land of the Rising Sun and enjoy a different take on the Japan Cup in association with Longines.
The Longines World FEGENTRI Championship
Horseracing was created by equestrians who loved speed. As it developed over centuries, the industry professionalized. Yet, around the world, amateurs continue to race. Since its inception in 1955, the FEGENTRI has been promoting and developing thoroughbred races exclusively for amateurs. The amateur status means that the riders cannot be deriving their main source of income from the racing industry. They race as a hobby and are offered the chance to ride at some of the most prestigious racecourses in the world. They uphold a long tradition of sportsmanship and values in line with those of Longines which has been the Official Partner of the association since 2014.
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime.” The gentlemen and lady riders of the Longines World FEGENTRI Championship will tell you themselves how their experience on the International circuit has changed their lives. They are passionate, competitive, curious and put themselves at risk on the back of the racehorses they, many times, barely know. They are not professionals and are therefore not being paid. Not in cash, that is. “I was lucky to ride in twenty different countries and win races in seven, all thanks to the Longines World FEGENTRI Championship,” says Barbara Guenet. The French native rode on the circuit for two years and was crowned Champion Lady Rider for 2014, the year Longines became the Official Partner and Watch of FEGENTRI races. Each season, member countries designate their representatives for two championships: one for the men, one for the women. Twenty points are attributed to the winners of races on each circuit and the amount of points decreases from the second to the sixth place. From the seventh on, each rider receives only one point. The Longines World FEGENTRI Championships Rankings reflect the changes throughout the year. “Trust me, we are forever counting the points as we fight to the finish,” admits Barbara. The riders keep in mind not only how many points they are about to score, but also how many the others will add to their tally score and how that will affect the overall rankings. Only the top eight Ladies of the ranking are invited for the season’s grand finale which takes place on the island of Mauritius. For several years now, the final for the Men’s circuit has been held in Qatar, at the end of the character-building year which starts in St. Moritz.

On more than one occasion, the championship winners have had to wait until the very last race of the season to secure the titles.
Twenty points can go a long way when the top-ranked rider does not have a comfortable margin leading to the final. “There are constant twists and reversals,” remembers Barbara, “you can only be lucky or unlucky for so long.” Indeed, Barbara did not win in Mauritius, “My friend Nicole Schlatter from Switzerland did! I placed third and that was enough to take the championship. I will never forget the atmosphere on the racecourse that day, the kindness and fervour of the Mauritians. The public chanted the names of their favourite lady riders.” Barbara, already popular for her achievements on track, won ever more hearts when she took part in a Sari contest on the race day. “The FEGENTRI is an unbelievable experience,” continues Barbara, “on a human level, on a sports level of course, but it is also a chance to meet people and experience different cultures.” Nathalie Belinguier who spent the last ten year at the helm of the FEGENTRI told the riders on the eve of each season that “This is competition and there will only be one winner in the end. You’ll have good days and bad days, but this will be an extraordinary year for you and you will develop friendships which will last a lifetime. It is a defining experience,” confirms Nathalie Belinguier: “You only need to see the extreme emotion which overcomes the winners when they received their trophy. I have seen eyes full of tears, and hands shaking so hard...” The final crowning of the champion is the celebration of an achievement but it also closes a chapter. It marks the end of a dynamic which pushes men and women to fly and ride around the globe, generating bounds which live on far beyond the calendar of competitions.
And this is exactly what the forbearers of the FEGENTRI meant when they met in St. Moritz on February 5, 1955 to form the International Federation of Gentlemen Riders. Sixteen years later, in 1971, the Federation extended to Lady Riders as well. “They were five friends from five different countries,” explains Nathalie Belinguier. Ten years had passed since the end of World War II. “They wanted to promote the value of friendship through amateurs’ races across borders,” she continues. From these first five founding countries (Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden), the federation has grown and now include twenty-five nations. “Some of the newest members do not have a tradition of amateur races, or riders to send to our championships, yet they are very interested in organizing events for Gentlemen and Lady Riders. Racing was indeed started and developed by gentlemen and noblemen challenging one another to prove whose horse was the fastest. When you look at countries which have no amateur riders, it is interesting to note that racing there developed later, once the industry had started professionalizing with owners employing jockeys to ride their horses.” Stops on the FEGENTRI circuits now include destinations as far away as the Americas, Mauritius, Turkey, Qatar, and Oman. “I think professional jockeys envy us,” jokes Barbara Guenet. “We are lucky to travel the world, representing our country. Some of our races take place on the most prestigious race days. Let’s be honest, unless you are Olivier Peslier or one of the World’s best jockeys, it is very rare for a pro to see as much of the world as we do in one year.”

One of Barbara’s favourite memories was the day she won the Prix de la Reine Marie-Amélie on the day of the Prix de Diane Longines, a feat for a woman who did not grow up in the business.
An equestrian at heart, Barbara competed in three day events and even taught at a riding school in Maisons-Laffitte. That’s where she discovered Amateur race riding. With the help of friends and fellow amateurs, she learned the ropes. “I was 26 years old when I made my first start and only rode 8 winners in my first four years. I needed more of a challenge so I started participating in amateur jump races as well and that changed everything. It made me tougher, I was gaining in physical strength, then people started noticing me and giving me more rides.” The transition over the jumps helped Barbara claim her first title of France’s best lady rider. She never looked back and has snatched that premiership every year since. When Barbara added the Longines World FEGENTRI Championship for Lady Riders to her collection, she was invited to visit the Longines headquarters in Saint-Imier. “After having the honour representing my country on the International stage, it was an amazing moment to see my name on the trophy, knowing others will follow.” On September 17, 2016, Barbara registered her 100th victory in the colours of His Highness the Aga Khan, on a horse named Luannan for the record-breaking trainer Jean-Claude Rouget. Her 101th followed on the same day. Soon after, she received a letter of congratulations from Saint-Imier. “It really moved me,” confides Barbara, who likes most amateurs when they first embark in the FEGENTRI adventure, had originally no idea that the bounds and friendships created along the way would run so deep. The mother of a 12 year-old son, Barbara Guenet may not be your typical FEGENTRI rider, but then again, there is no such thing as a typical FEGENTRI candidate, as Nathalie Belinguier confirms: “We have had lawyers, insurance brokers, physical therapists, sports teacher, students in all kinds of subjects from Law to Environment, even Theology. The one thing they all have in common is their passion and our Motto: “Riding Spirit, Taking Risks, Friendship and Elegance.”
[Fanny Hubart-Salmon]
Equestrian sports, a passion shared by Longines and the amateurs of the FEGENTRI
Strongly committed to equestrian sports, Longines has always admired and supported athletes’ and personalities’ strong devotion and recognized contribution to these sports, including youngsters and amateurs who share the same passion as the watchmaker. Therefore, the brand is really proud to be the Official Partner and Watch of the International Federation of Gentlemen and Lady Riders (FEGENTRI). It also lends its name to the rankings for riders taking part in the championships: the Longines World FEGENTRI Championship Rankings for Lady Riders and the Longines FEGENTRI Championship Rankings for Gentlemen Riders. Last October, Sweden’s Joséphine Chini, winner of the 2016 Longines World FEGENTRI Championship for Lady Riders, and Spain’s Gonzalo Pineda Carmena, winner of the Longines World FEGENTRI Championship for Gentlemen Riders, were invited to visit the headquarters and the museum of the Swiss watchmaker in Saint-Imier. This tour was a pleasant shared moment, particularly appreciated by the Champions who could contemplate the Longines World FEGENTRI Championship Trophy with their name engraved exposed in the museum.
New partnership with
the St.Moritz Racing Association
The first horse race ever held in St. Moritz was actually not staged on the lake and its horses had no riders. Instead, they were pulling skiers. The contestants of the 1906 inaugural skikjöring event left the centre of St. Moritz, racing to a nearby village around 5 kilometres away and back. The fastest horse and skier took just over twenty minutes to complete the challenge, which took place at night. The following year, the Skikjörers opted for the lake as their new speed ring; trotting races with sleighs were also added to the program. Then came flat racing in 1911. The program extended, the word spread, horses started coming from further and further away, with their team targeting the three consecutive Sundays of racing held each February. Its competition and exclusive hospitality have made the event rebranded as the “White Turf”, a world acclaimed destination. One where all competitions are now timed by Longines. Last November, the Swiss watchmaker announced indeed a new partnership with the St. Moritz Racing Association, which saw Longines became the Main Partner, the Official Watch and Timekeeper of the St. Moritz Racing Association, as well as the Official Timekeeper and Watch of the White Turf St. Moritz. As part of this agreement, the brand was also appointed Title Partner of the featured horse races of the event: The Grand Prix Longines and the Longines Grosser Preis von St. Moritz. “Longines has a common history with St. Moritz, dating back to 1894, when the brand provided the sports resort with chronographs enabling to time to the 1/5th of a second,” commented Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President of Longines and Head of International Marketing when the newest terms of the agreement were announced. “Since then, we have been even more committed to timekeeping sports competitions in this exceptional venue, such as white turf races in the early sixties. As we attach importance to tradition, one of the key values of our brand, we are particularly delighted to reinforce our involvement in white turf events in St. Moritz, as we will serve as Timekeeper for all the racing days.”
“It is a source of great pride to have won Longines as a new, third main sponsor for the White Turf St. Moritz. Backed by three strong main sponsors, the 110-year old history of success in international racing sports can continue at a top level, and the fame of St. Moritz and the entire region as the Mecca of equestrian sports will even be enhanced,” added Thomas Walther, President of the management board of the Racing Association St. Moritz.
St. Moritz was the trailblazer for winter sports and soon after skiers started speeding down the slopes. Its frozen lake was then invested and transformed into the most unique racecourse on earth. 110 years later, snow still flies from the hooves of the racehorses; spectators hold their breath while sportsmen aim at the post, keeping their eyes on the clock: a tradition now known as the White Turf. Longines has become the Official Timekeeper and Watch of this unique event as part of its new partnership with the St. Moritz Racing Association.
Skikjöring, a world exclusive
To this day, skikjöring remains a world exclusive at St. Moritz as Franco Moro, 7-time champion of the discipline, explains. Nowhere else in the world do skiers race “pulled by a horse with no rider at up to 50 km/h across a creaky snow and ice-track 2,700 m in length.” Silvio Staub, who has been at the head of the White Turf since 2010, knows the adrenalin rush. He represents the third generation of snow racing competitors at St. Moritz. His father was the first to win the challenge of “King of Engadine” when first introduced in 1990. The trophy crowns the skikjörer who collects the most points over three races held on each Sunday of the White Turf. Silvio himself became the youngest ever to claim the “King of Engadine” trophy at just 22 years old. For the first time ever in 2017, the “King of Engadine” was a Queen! St. Moritz native Valeria Holinger realised the dream of a lifetime. “I have been dreaming about it since I was a little girl,” said a beaming Valeria, upon receiving the trophy. Valeria, whose father Nicolò is the Skikjöring manager for the White Turf, insisted on the key role played by her equine partner, Usbekia. We usually say: “It’s 60 per cent horse, 40 per cent driver, but my mare does much more than that.” Valeria also wanted to thank Gisela and Peter Schiergen. Peter, a retired champion jockey, now 5-time champion German trainer, found and prepped the perfect accomplice in Usbekia. His son, Dennis, himself an accomplished rider, met Valeria while competing on the White Turf two years ago. The rest is history.
Night Turf
History was also made in 2015 when Longines and the Racing Association of St. Moritz partnered for an innovate new concept: the Night Turf. An estimated crowd of 5,000 attended the first running of the event, a night Silvio Staub, CEO for the board of the Racing Association St. Moritz, will never forget. “The response of the enthusiastic spectators was more than just positive; it gave the sensation of having created something unique in the world.” If building a pop-up racecourse at an altitude of 1,800 m, on a lake 44-meter deep was not enough; racing under the moon and the floodlights added spice to the challenge. The Night Turf has now evolved, offering racing in daylight with hospitality and entertainment continuing late into the night, combining all the attractive elements of the alpine resort. Winter scenery, sports and entertainment have been the key combination that placed St. Moritz and its races high on the social event calendar, summarizes Luigi Sala, Tote Board manager for the Racing Association St. Moritz. “The higher Engadin valley has about 20,000 inhabitants and you can step up to 120,000 inhabitants at the height of the winter season. So we are the 6th largest city in Switzerland for just a couple of weeks a year.”
Snow, ski and speeding horses
Snow, ski and speeding horses have made of St. Moritz the premiere winter destination. Once again, this year, the values of tradition and performance flew high in the Engadine valley. The site, which already held two winter Olympic Games, welcomed its 5th FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and in the same fortnight, horsemen and women raced in two Longines Grand Prix. And when the skiers wrapped up on February 19th, the racecourse on the lake celebrated the amateurs of the Longines World FEGENTRI Championship of Gentlemen Riders. This was the first stop of the season for the amateurs who convened at the very venue where the FEGENTRI association was created in 1955. This year, the gentlemen riders tested their stamina as well as their horses’ endurance over 2,500 m on the snow. Longer distance races are one of the new features introduced in 2017. The biggest challenge for the White Turf team is to maintain their temporary racecourse in the best and safest conditions. “In recent years, the climate did not help our event in the sense of the low temperatures and massive snowfalls needed,” says Silvio Staub. “We have to take each year as it comes. Sometimes lots of manpower, great equipment and just the right touch with Mother Nature are needed. This is not a new phenomenon; our forefathers had to face the same issues more than hundred years ago. It is precisely this challenge of working in the most adverse conditions that welds the team together a little more year after year, and I am very proud of that. The lake usually starts freezing in mid-December. When the temperatures drop below minus 10 degrees, the layer of ice can grow up to 2 centimetres every night”, explains Luigi Sala. “We have about 60–65 centimetres of ice, so it is thick enough to carry all the infrastructure that is just built up in two weeks in January. It holds two and a half thousand tons of material and infrastructure on the ice.” Add to that the weight of 10,000 visitors, the average attendance for the three Sundays of the White Turf season on the lake, and you will understand the need for constant monitoring. The compacted snow on top makes the surface of the lake one of the flattest racecourse in the world, but underneath the lake is very much alive. The thick layers of ice can crack, allowing thin streams of water to reach the snow that then melts faster on some spots than others. On the third Sunday of the White Turf 2017, the team had to make the difficult call to cancel the rest of the programme. Further inspection and consultation with the jockeys, led to the inevitable conclusion that safety comes always first. Soon after, the dates for the 2018 White Turf were announced. “White Turf is so unique because it takes place in a high-alpine valley on a frozen lake,” reminds Silvio Staub. “If everything was measurable and there was a remedy in all circumstances, the White Turf event would not be as unique and it would be replicable elsewhere. Luckily, there will never be any alternative to replace the frozen lake.” [Fanny Hubart-Salmon]
Longines International Racing Festival Istanbul
First horseracing partnership for Longines in Turkey
The Swiss watchmaker Longines was appointed in 2016 Title Partner and Official Timekeeper of the Longines International Racing Festival Istanbul. As part of this new partnership, the watchmaker presents, as the Title Partner, the Official Timekeeper and the Official Watch, the most important race of the two-day horseracing event: The Longines Topkapi Trophy. Furthermore, the brand becomes the Official Timekeeper and Watch of the Jockey Club of Turkey, as well as of the Veliefendi Racecourse where the racing festival takes place.
Longines has extended its large and long term commitment in the horseracing world to Turkey’s international racing festival, thus becoming the Title Partner of the Longines International Racing Festival Istanbul and its major race the Longines Topkapi Trophy, as well as the Official Timekeeper and Watch of the Veliefendi Racecourse and the Jockey Club of Turkey. International races in Turkey date back to 1990. Since 2008, they have been gathered as a festival during the first weekend of September in Istanbul, and this event has never ceased to grow in leaps and bounds. Thanks to the long-term partnership with the Swiss watch brand, 2016 thus marked a significant milestone for the newly-named Longines International Racing Festival Istanbul. Its seven races attract numerous international entries to the Veliefendi Racecourse. The group 2 Longines Topkapi Trophy is the main feature race. It is run over a distance of 1600 meters and is open to 3-year-old and upwards Thoroughbreds. For this first collaboration, Blonde Me and Oisin Murphy crossed first the finish line of the Longines Topkapi Trophy on Sunday 4 September 2016. Longines awarded the winning horse’s owner, Barbara Keller, and jockey an elegant Longines timepiece, along with the most elegant woman at the racecourse, Ayşegül Aksoy, for having won the Longines Prize for Elegance.
The Injured Jockeys Fund
A family for life
For those involved in the horseracing industry it might come as a surprise, albeit a welcome one, that their sport does not officially feature amongst the first ten most dangerous sports in the world. That list is dominated by base jumping, football and cycling. You might ask yourself how it can be more dangerous to kick a ball around a field than to stand in the stirrups of a tiny saddle, carried by a racehorse galloping in a tightly packed field around sharp bends whilst reaching top speeds of 56 km/h. The straight answer is, it isn’t. The list of the world’s most dangerous sports is in fact based on fatalities, rather than the number or nature of injuries. And fortunately, fatal accidents in horseracing are extremely uncommon. However, when it comes to the number of life changing injuries suffered by jockeys and stable staff, it is unfortunately far greater than in many other sports. That is the reason why during a race, regardless if it is flat racing or jump racing, jockeys are continuously followed by an ambulance that is never more than a few meters away from them. In fact, a race meeting is not allowed to go ahead if there are not a certain number of ambulances and doctors present on the racecourse.

The safety of jockeys is extremely important and racing’s governing bodies regularly invest in research to produce the most adequate and efficient protective equipment, capable of protecting a rider in case of a fall. Helmets and body protectors undergo scrupulous examinations and updates, yet the nature of the sport unfortunately makes it impossible to completely eliminate life changing and career ending injuries. Like with any sport, there are certain risks and jockeys know that suffering spinal cord injuries, as well as head injuries and neck injuries are all part of a jockey’s life.
Fortunately, in the UK, jockeys and stable staff who suffer those terrible injuries can count on the Injured Jockeys Fund, a charitable organisation, which provides financial, medical, as well as important psychological support not just to the victims but also to their families. Created in 1964 by John Oaksey, himself an amateur jockey, journalist and broadcaster, in the wake of accidents suffered by jockeys Tim Brookshaw and Paddy Farrell who were both severely paralysed, the Injured Jockeys Fund has since been able to help more than over one thousand jockeys. Over the years, it has become one of the most important organisations within the racing community and is supported by its Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, who received the Longines Ladies Award in 2016. 2016 was also the year that marked the 10-year anniversary of Longines’ successful partnership with Ascot, the racecourse that was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne and which is one of the leading racecourses in the United Kingdom. To mark the occasion, Longines donated a cheque to the Injured Jockeys Fund, a charity that is dear to everyone involved in the sport. Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President of Longines and Head of International Marketing, said: “Longines is very much aware of the risks jockeys face on a daily basis in order to pursue a career in a sport that brings so much joy and pleasure to so many people around the world. We would like to show our appreciation to the jockeys and stable staff that work tirelessly and with enthusiasm, regardless of the very realistic dangers of suffering an injury. The Injured Jockeys Fund aims at improving the lives of injured jockeys and their families by providing appropriate assistance, financial or otherwise, in a prompt and sympathetic manner. It is a testament to the sport's dedication to its athletes and we are proud to support it.”
Any support for the Injured Jockeys Fund is very much appreciated and Brough Scott, former jockey, horse racing journalist, radio and television presenter, was delighted to accept the cheque on behalf of the charity during a ceremony at the Longines Boutique on Oxford Street in London. “I have been a trustee for 30 years and chairman for the last 10 years,” he said. “I know very directly the difference it can make to people in need. We are a comparatively small charity, but our help is very direct and in recent years have been able to radically widen our service with the establishment of Oaksey House in Lambourn, Jack Berry House in Malton and the planned building of the Sir Peter O’Sullevan House in Newmarket. These rehabilitation centres not only give state of the art treatment for injured jockeys, but that precious thing, knowledge and instruction as to how to maximize fitness to avoid injury in the first place. Best of all, these treatments and this knowledge can be shared with the wider racing world and beyond. We have huge commitments – but we are hugely committed.”

Since its foundation, the Injured Jockeys Fund has spent over £18 Million in helping jockeys. At Oaksey House in Lambourn, home of one of the two major racehorse training centres in the UK, injured jockeys receive not just treatment for illness or injury, but are taught how to achieve an optimal fitness level while keeping a healthy diet.
There are many other services on offer, including specialist therapies for those with neurological conditions, performance coaching, sports massage therapy and specialised physiotherapy, to name but just a few. The most important aspect though of the Injured Jockeys Fund is that there is no time limit on the help available. Quite the contrary, as its President Sir Anthony McCoy, the world’s highest decorated jump jockey, confirms: “When you suffer a life changing injury like severe paralysis, it is not just a question of providing that jockey with a wheelchair or physiotherapy. Those are important, but even more so is a constant mental support that our almoners so generously provide to not just the jockey but to his or her family. No matter when you have suffered an injury, the Injured Jockeys Fund will be there for you forever.” Once a jockey, always a jockey. No matter if you are active, retired or simply no longer capable of pursuing a career you used to be so passionate about, in horseracing, thanks to the Injured Jockeys Fund, you are never alone. And that is without doubt the most important message of the Injured Jockeys Fund. [Liz Price]
Longines announces the renewal of its partnership with the
Hong Kong Jockey Club
in the presence of two top jockeys
On the fringes of the 2016 Longines Hong Kong International Races, Longines announced the renewal of its partnership with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, of which the Swiss watchmaker is the Official Partner and Official Watch. Under this agreement, the winged hourglass brand lends its name to the Longines International Jockey Championship and the Longines Hong Kong International Races, the spectacular conclusion to the flat racing year. The event was held at Longines’ Star House store in Hong Kong, attended by representatives of the two partners and two world-famous jockeys, João Moreira, winner of the Longines Hong Kong Sprint in 2015 and the Longines Hong Kong Vase in 2016, and Ryan Moore, who was presented with the Longines World’s Best Jockey award in 2014 and 2016.
Longines presents
the blue edition of The Longines Master Collection
at the Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes
On the occasion of the Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes, a world-class racing event featuring the richest 2000 m turf race in the world, Longines launched new models displaying a blue dial from The Longines Master Collection, a line blending classic elegance and excellence. These chromatic variations come in several diameters, so that men and women can find the watch best suited to their wrist. The clear underside of the steel case allows one to admire the scintillating movement of the automatic calibres with which these pieces are fitted. These elegant timepieces are complimented by a steel bracelet or blue alligator watch strap, all fitted with a folding safety clasp. To mark this launch, the Swiss watchmaking brand gathered some celebrities, as the Australian actor Jai Courtney, and key influencers from the world of social media, including Adam Gallagher (Iamgalla), Leonie Hanne (Ohhcouture) and Amanda Shadforth (Oraclefox).