Francois Bourrey, President of the Longines Global Champions tour of Cannes, organizer of excellence, has been unrolling its red carpet for 37 years. Cannes is a prestigious stage where the world’s best riders gather for the most glamorous event in the world.
Cannes has been around for 37 years, what is the secret of its success?
Cannes is an exceptional city. The magic of the site and its glitter, our 5-star hotel partners as prestigious as the Majestic, the Martinez and the Carlton who lodge the riders make this competition one of the most glamorous existing. Our other partners, who rent large boats, invite riders to go out at sea and water ski. We have always focused our competition on the vacation aspect. I have always tried to make competitions-shows epic and Cannes has become the festive place, the must of competitions, the «vacances» contest.
Where does this gift come from ?
We created the first Horse Show in 1972 in the Bastille; my mother did it at the time through a family company.
We relaunched the Paris Jumping in 1974. Then I created the Renault Jump which I exported to the United States in West Palm Beach in the 90s. At the time, we organized 11 events, 7 in France and 4 in Europe, all linked by a common thread, the Renault brand, which became our sponsor. With a partner we then paired Cannes and Wellington in the USA; I interviewed the chefs from the major hotels : the Majestic, the Marriott and the Carlton and brought them to Wellington. They were cooking in the VIP tent in the 2000s and the Americans loved it. Beezie Madden, Laura Kraut, Katie Prudent, and all the great international riders were present The success was overwhelming. The sponsors since are loyal to us; it’s also a matter of heart. I also organized the European Championships in La Baule and the World Cup in Paris. I was the first to set up the sponsors VIP tents around the competition grounds a long time ago. We started the Global with this idea 12 years ago ! Set up a luxurious circuit with the always on the move high end customers. Jan Tops has succeeded in this extraordinary challenge, this magnificent circuit of the Global Champions Tour.
In Cannes, my company La SEPA and Renault have always offered a flawless welcome and accommodation, with very large grants and always beautiful evenings. We have built our reputation on this label of quality.
What are your plans ?
We are in full development over Cannes. The stadium is too old, so much work is planned. Last year, the ground was redone, the exteriors also and the city is investing 6 million euros on the renovation of the stadium. It’s really the mayor’s philosophy. There are two major events in Cannes: the Film Festival and the Jumping comes number 2.
Do you have other interests ?
Yes, in Mauritius. I am very invested in real estate development and I also organized from 1990 to 2000 at the Stade du Nord a competition «vacances» in January and February with the complicity of Renault. I’m going to reorganize it and get Cannes up there for a one-night contest with local horses. The riders will be invited -planes, hotels, stay- for a week ‘vacation‘. There won’t be any big prizes.
You don’t ride horses anymore, why ?
No! A long time ago, a tragedy devastated me and I decided to stop riding .I was riding very simply at some national competitions then I sold my 2 horses and bought a great 4 year old and a very good 5 year old, a very nice horse recommended by a rider of the French team, Hubert Parot. I won the 5 years at Fontainebleau and Hubert won the 6 years final with him and then took care of his sports career. At the age of seven, he left for the French national team. I thought he was a little young but we managed its career and under Hubert’s saddle he took part in the European Championships. Then he left for CSI Tripoli with Gaddafi and Hubert. I don’t know why I let it happen because I wasn’t very enthusiastic. The horse won the race but on receipt of an obstacle broke the fetlock. We had to euthanize him on the spot. I wasn’t there, I didn’t know what happened, but I stopped it right there ! My daughter was riding when she was young and my son is riding as an amateur.
How do you see the future ?
My future is to go golfing, to live intensely and enjoy life and my children. In 2000, we sold a very big event in Cannes: The Boat Show which is today the most prestigious Boat Show. So I had these two events that were really familiar. I keep Cannes and have fun in Mauritius. I also have a hunting estate in Sologne, which represents a big activity from September to January : I sell the hunting days to an elitist clientele and I am happy in the middle of the woods with my dogs.