The Sunshine Tour is the biggest and most important winter equestrian competition in Europe. Originally named ‘Circuito Hipico del Sol’, the competition involves both show jumping and dressage. The Tour runs from the last week of February and throughout March with a total of 177 classes being spread over five weeks.
Since it began in 1995, people have flocked from over 46 countries to compete at the Dehesa Montenmedio grounds in the Cadiz Province.
This year’s competition will see a staggering 1460 horses and 414 riders participating.
If you want to get in on the action, Dehesa Montenmedio is only an hour and a half from Marbella and is a hive of activity throughout the Tour.
SUNSHINE TOUR ORIGINS
The competition started here as the weather is much milder than anywhere else in Europe, therefore the grounds are in generally in a better condition and riders can compete in all types of weather, which isn’t snow and rain. The tour is often used for European riders to practise for the rest of the season.
Also, many riders use the tour to qualify for international competitions, for example, many jumping classes will be used for riders and horses to qualify for the Adult European Championships, which will be held in Denmark in August. Also the younger classes will be the qualifiers for the Junior Championships, which are also held at Dehesa Montenmedio in July.
Not only will riders use these competitions to qualify for European competitions, they are also a qualifier for international games such as the Olympics.
The Sunshine Tour is not only for internationally qualified riders, there are classes that run for all ages and horses.
The show jumping competition runs classeswhich are divided into three categories: Young Horses, Classic Tour and GP Tour. Children aged 12 to 16 are able to compete in the Classic Tour, jumping heights of 1.10m to 1.20m! However it is the GP Tour which sees riders jumping heights up to 1.50m.
The competitions are exhilarating to watch and undoubtedly filled with breathtaking moments.
And if thrill-seeking show jumping isn’t for you, the dressage competitions also have a variety of tests, varying from ponies, juniors and young riders to small and big international tours.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
The greatest thing about The Sunshine Tour is that there is something for everyone; the facilities are as outstanding as the shows!
Dehesa Montenmedio is the most far-reaching equestrian centre. The competition area alone is home to 969 stables, eight grass competition areas, five all-weather training areas, four restaurants and a large VIP area with views looking over the main competition areas and a large village area, which holds 25 commercial tents.
And this is without including the Kurupay area; a place for riders and horses to train. This slightly smaller area still has a staggering 265 stables and four training arenas.
It is clearly evident why Dehesa Montenmedio is the home to the biggest winter completion throughout Europe, its extensive facilities not only make it the number one place to train and compete but also a fantastic place for non-riders to visit and watch the shows.
Although the price for competitors seems rather extortionate, with GP riders entering for €22 050, the prize money to be won is pretty exciting.
The overall prize money that can be won by dressage competitors
is €21 ,150 and if that seems to you a pretty hefty win, you’ll be bowled over when you find out that the total prize money for show jumpers is up to €100,000.