St Tropez rolls out the red carpet for Global Champions debut

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(CNN)Showjumping's Longines Global Champions Tour is renowned not just for its generous prize pots and top sporting action, but also for its stylish and glamorous locations.

Now in its 13th season, adding to its already impressive roster of venues, Ramatuelle/St Tropez will make its debut on the tour.
Famous as a playground for the rich and famous, the French Riviera will roll out the red carpet for showjumping's elite this weekend with the sixth leg of Global Champions 2018 circuit.
Starting in Mexico City in March, the 17-stop tour takes in some of the world's most prestigious destinations, such as a stop under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, a coastal trip to Miami Beach, among the super-yachts in Monaco as well as central locations in world-famous cities such as Shanghai, London, Madrid and Rome.
    It's the latest addition to an elite itinerary that includes events in destinations such as Miami Beach, Paris, Monaco, Shanghai, London, Madrid and Rome.
    The action this weekend will take place a few steps from the sea, at the back of the well-known Pampelonne beach.
    The golden sands and turquoise waters were made famous by Brigitte Bardot in the 1956 film "And God Created Woman," which featured shots of Bardot on what was then a relatively unknown beach in the bay just south of St Tropez.
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    Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show

    Despite only making its debut on the Global Champions Tour this year, the show has been successfully staged by the Greek heiress Athina Onassis since 2014.
    It has built up an enviable reputation, attracting many of the sport's top riders. The 33-year-old Onassis is the only surviving descendant of billionaire shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis and she been riding horses from a young age.
    Now based in Holland, she has represented Greece at European and World Championship level and has been part of the Global Champions Tour for many years and, more recently, the Global Champions League team competition.
    In St Tropez, she'll not only be acting as event organizer but also as a rider on the home team, the St Tropez Pirates. The team are looking to follow up their victory earlier this month in Hamburg, where riders Laura Klaphake and Pieter Devos pulled off an impressive win.
    Riding for the home side this weekend, alongside Onassis, will be Australia's Edwina Tops-Alexander.
    "I'm really looking forward to competing at our home show. Athina, Pieter Devos and I will be there for the GCL," said Tops-Alexander.
    "After an amazing win for the St Tropez Pirates in Hamburg our team is now in a strong position sitting on third place in the overall team rankings behind London Knights and Valkensvaard United."

    Championship battle

    Tops-Alexander will also be focusing on the individual competition, the Global Champions Tour, where she is seeking a record third overall victory following victories in 2011 and 2012.
    After five rounds of the 2018 championship, she trails 2012 Olympic champion Scott Brash another two-time LGCT winner, by 12 points.
    Close behind her, and also making the trip to the South of France, are Ben Maher, Daniel Deusser and Pieter Devos as well as last year's champion, and current world No. 1, Harrie Smolders.
    New for this season are the inaugural Global Champions Play Offs in Prague, which boasts a record prize purse of $10m and will see the winning team ride away with $3m.
    Prague will also play host to the first Longines Global Champions Super Grand Prix, which pits the winners of each LGCT event throughout the year against each other in a season-ending spectacular.
    Tops-Alexander knows that St Tropez could be a crucial event in the championship race for 2018.
    "This weekend I will be there to try to get a good result and some points to put me in a better overall position," she added.
    "Everyone is feeling the great motivation at every event among individual and team riders to win through to the new Play Offs this year. I'm delighted to have qualified already for the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix in Prague this December after my win in Miami Beach."