Feb 07, 2022
The Sunshine Tour 2022 will begin on Tuesday February 8. More than 3,500 horse and rider combinations will pass through the facilities in Vejer de la Frontera, Cadiz.
Horses have been arriving non-stop from all corners of the world, especially from central Europe, to compete at the highest level at Montenmedio. The stables are bursting with activity, and it is proving difficult to efficiently manage all the arrivals.
This year, a total of 3,500 horses and 9,000 people are expected to pass through the Montenmedio facilities over the next two months. So far, 750 riders have registered to compete, and more than 50 nationalities will be represented over the weeks. The economic impact of this massive influx of riders totals more than 40 million euros, which is spread across various businesses in the local community.
Several hotels and restaurants have opened earlier than expected this year, and will be able to mitigate the effects of the pandemic thanks to the Sunshine Tour. By extending their seasons, they have less dependence on the mass tourism season, which is mainly focused on sun and beach destinations.
With the high demand of visitors and their high purchasing power, several local businesses have made profits and job opportunities have arisen benefiting supermarkets, clothing and footwear stores, hairdressers, veterinarians, physiotherapists....
This year, the Andalucía Sunshine Tour is being sponsored by the Consejería de Turismo, Regeneración, Justicia y Administración Local de la Junta de Andalucía. The level of sport in Montenmedio is undeniable, and includes important international figures, including Olympic athletes in both show jumping and eventing.
Among the riders, 29-year-old Swiss rider Martin Fuchs, currently ranked number two in the world, will compete on the Sunshine Tour. Martin is the son of the legendary Thomas Fuchs, and has become an international show jumping phenomenon. His now-retired horse, Clooney 51, has accompanied Martin over the years, racking up victories. After a shoulder injury, his rehabilitation has stirred the equestrian community.
Among the riders is Swiss Steve Guerdat, former No. 1 and five-time Olympian. Guerdat won individual gold at the London Olympics and has an exceptional career record.
Belgian rider Gregory Wathelet will return to compete on the Tour, currently a team bronze medalist at the Tokyo Olympics. Wathelet specializes in training young horses and several champions have passed through his hands, including the legendary Cortes C, Coree, Conrad de Hus, Copin van de Broy and Corlap.
Also competing in show jumping, French rider Penelope Leprevost was part of the team that won the team gold medal in Rio. Also on the equestrian circuit this year will be Laura Kraut, team silver medalist at the Tokyo Olympics and team gold medalist in Beijing.
The Irish rider, Peter Moloney, has returned to the Dehesa Montenmedio facilities to defend his Andalucía Sunshine Tour Invitational title.
The Invitational is the event that traditionally closes the circuit, and Moloney won it in 2019. The following two seasons could not be contested due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This was the first competition with "Ornellaia", winning two Grand Prix, including the Invitational. Two seasons later, Moloney returns to the Spanish circuit. For this occasion, he travelled with five horses to compete in the CSI4* sporting event. The list is made up of: Budgie, Chained Django, Clever Boy Jr, Django de Paulanne and Pepper D'5.
There will be more than 300 classes throughout the weeks of the tour as well as more than 2 million euros in prizes. Of these 300 classes, 42 classes will score for the FEI Longines ranking.
Thursdays will be full of competition, as the adult horses will also compete, and between Thursday and Sunday we will be able to see the 1.10m to 1.60m classes in show jumping, as well as the Grand Prix and the qualifiers for the World Championships.
Despite the warm weather, during this time of the year, it is not always sunny. The major innovation of the Sunshine Tour is the 90m by 62m removable roof covering 5,850 square metres. This makes it the largest removable roof in the world, protecting the facility from rain and wind.
The structure cost 750,000 euros and covers its 19 arenas. With these modern facilities and its healthy atmosphere, the Andalucía Sunshine Tour is a great attraction worldwide that makes everyone involved enjoy equestrian sports.
Images from Sunshine Tour, credit to Moises Basallote Fotografía