The Sunshine Tour Experience
A few weeks ago, the Kingsland-crew made the trip to Vejer de la Frontera – our location for the photo shoot of the 2017 Summer Collection. Meeting us there were Kingsland riders Reed Kessler, Gregory Wathelet, Guy Williams, Camilla Storemark and Maria Kingsrød – who are all competing at this year’s edition of the Sunshine Tour.
The Sunshine Tour is staged at Dehesa Montenmedio, a property of 500 hectares located in beautiful surroundings with a view towards Vejer de la Frontera – a white hill top town that creates a stunning backdrop to the many show rings. With the closest neighbour being a quiet wood of 60 hectares, the horses can also enjoy some peace and quiet hacking out while for the equestrians the beaches of Sacti Petri, Zahara de los Atunes, Barbata, Caños de Meca and Conil offer a break from the busy show ground.
1995 was the first year of the Sunshine Tour. 22 years later, and the tour has established itself as one of the most popular on the circuit, and every year horses and riders from all over the world make the travel to Vejer to compete at the six-week tour. Amateurs and professionals, kids and adults, young horses and Grand Prix horses – you will find it all at the Sunshine Tour. 450 riders from 46 countries and 1500 horses jumping; seven large grass arenas and six all-weather rings for training and competition; almost a thousand permanent boxes for stabling; a 15 km area for hacking; surfaced parking for 250 trucks. Small numbers do not exist at the Sunshine Tour.
For the riders, the days can be busy and long. From Tuesday to Thursday the young horses aged five to seven are in action, while other horses can jump in the clear round rings – a great opportunity to train and get ready for the competitions ahead. On Thursdays, the older horses start jumping with the Medium and Big Tour competitions seeing some of the world’s best riders competing. The highlight of the weeks at the Sunshine Tour are always the Big Tour Grand Prix competitions, held on Sundays – which attracts plenty of audience who enjoy watching top sport.
Our Kingsland riders have very different days and weeks at the tour. Gregory Wathelet (BEL) has brought with him not only his own horses to compete, but a big group of students that are training with him – filling up 51 boxes. Gregory’s schedule is of the hectic kind with a mix of competing younger horses and more experienced ones, as well as training his students. The European Vice-Champion also travels back and forth with five-star competitions in Doha and Paris in between; there is not much room to relax – although an occasional TV game might be made room for before he jumps to bed. Then there is Camilla Storemark (NOR), who is at the Sunshine Tour on a new adventure. The 25-year-old recently started to work for Irish rider Cian O’Connor’s Karlswood Stables, and competes at the tour alongside O’Connor’s rider Ross Mullholland with a team of younger horses aimed for the top sport. The youngest Kingsland rider at the tour is Maria Kingsrød (NOR), who at the age of 15 will combine competing her horses in Spain with school at home in Norway – requiring hard work, structure and plenty of travelling hours.