Tag Archives: FEI World Cup

Madden Clinches Her Second Title in a Cliffhanger

Photo: FEI/Jim Hollander.

Fellow-American Ryan finishes a close second, Sweden’s von Eckermann takes third

America’s Beezie Madden (54) held on to win the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 title in Paris (FRA), but she didn’t do it the easy way. In a cliffhanger of a second round she faulted for the first time over three tough days of jumping when last to go with the brilliant Breitling LS. And the crowd had to hold their breath until she crossed the line to a roar of approval, separated by just two penalty points from compatriot Devin Ryan (36) in second place.

The biggest surprise package of the week, the relatively unknown Ryan was relentlessly cool yet again as his apparently bomb-proof grey gelding son of the great stallion Zirocco Blue continued to make the super-tough courses designed by Spain’s Santiago Varela look fairly elementary.

The hard-luck story of the final afternoon was that of Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (37) who had to settle for third place for the second year in a row. In runner-up spot and carrying four faults as the afternoon began, he might have forced Madden into a jump-off but for a mistake with Tovek’s Mary Lou in the closing moments. He wasn’t forgiving himself for that. Madden knew she’d been in a fight.

“When I had that rail down, I was a little nervous, but I still felt my horse was jumping well and I knew I had to pull it together to finish on four (faults) and try to get it done!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

The rider who previously claimed the title in 2013 said it was “double-exciting” to post her second win, and particularly with this 12-year-old stallion. “We’ve really believed in him but he’s taken time to mature, so for him to come through today is fantastic! It’s taken a little while to replace Simon (her 2013 World Cup winning ride) and Cortes (team silver 2016 Olympic Games) but it’s happening!” she added.

Her two nearest rivals kept all the pressure in place when making no mistake in the first round, von Eckermann carrying his four points forward and Ryan still sitting on a total of six.  A little rattle at the oxer at fence three on the 13-obstacle course, and another at vertical no. 7 set American hearts beating a little faster, but Madden cleared the line with nothing to add, so the top end of the standings looked the same when the top 20 returned for round two over a new track.

And Ryan, who hails from Long Valley in New Jersey, did it again, steering Eddie Blue home with apparent ease once more. At just nine years old the horse was the youngest in the Final but you’d never have guessed. “His brain is unbelievable; he never knocked a pole as a five or six-year-old; he won the American Gold Cup as an eight-year-old and was second at Devon, one of our biggest shows in the US – he’s just a fantastic horse!” said the man who qualified from the US East Coast series.

Second-last into the ring von Eckermann knew he would pressure Madden with a clear, and he was beating himself up about having the second fence down this time out. “It was my mistake; my horse jumped fantastic as always, but we got too close and I interfered – I should have trusted her quality and it wouldn’t have happened,” said the clearly disappointed Swede.

You could hear a pin drop after Madden’s stallion hit the middle element of the triple combination at fence six. One more error would hand the title to fellow-American Ryan, but the lady who has two Olympic gold medals in her trophy cabinet along with a whole lot more valuable hardware didn’t crumble, bringing Breitling home with nothing further to add for a very popular victory.

Only five female athletes have taken the title in the 40-year history of the series that every rider wants to win, and they all have one thing in common. Like Madden, Melanie Smith (1983), Leslie Burr Lenehan (1986), and Katharine Burdsall (1987) all flew the American flag, while three-time winner Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum from Germany (2005, 2008, 2009) was born in Los Angeles, California. It seemed history was repeating itself, as Burdsall’s victory was also posted at exactly the same Paris venue when the Jumping Final was last staged in France 31 years ago.

The final standings showed three US riders in the top four places as 2017 winner, McLain Ward, slotted into fourth spot. The happiest of all was new double-champion Madden. “I love the World Cup Final – each year I make it a goal to get there, and to win, and I did it again!” said the lady who will be aiming join the elite club of three-time champions when the Final returns to Gothenburg in Sweden for the 23rd time next April.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Laura Graves and Verdades Second Place at FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Laura Graves and Verdades. Shannon Brinkman Photo.

Paris, France – With the FEI World Cup Dressage Final title on the line, Laura Graves and Verdades defended their 2017 second-place finish with a personal record score Saturday evening in the Freestyle to Music in Paris. Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and the 16-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Curt Maes finished on a score of 89.082 percent, just behind the reigning World Cup Final champion Isabell Werth (GER). Werth and Weihegold OLD scored a 90.657 percent, while Germany’s Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Unee BB finished third on a score of 83.725 percent.

“I am very proud,” said Graves. “It feels like first place, and the horse won’t know the difference, that’s for sure. Now I have a little homework in my book bag and we will take that back and be prepared for the next time… I have to pay respect to my horse because without these top horses who want to do the job for us, who want to learn, who allow us to learn with them, none of this would be possible.”

The atmosphere was electric as first Graves, and then Werth, put on a show for the ecstatic French crowd. Chasing the title, both of these powerful, yet poised athletes, gave it their best and turned out performances aimed at contesting the FEI World Cup record of 94.300 percent set by Charlotte Dujardin (GBR) and Valegro in 2014. In the end, it was Werth who came out on top, but Graves had much to be proud of. “Today, we are second,” she said. “But still a big personal best for us.”

The Olympic bronze medalist began developing this particular freestyle test back in December 2017 to her previous music. The program was designed to be very competitive, difficult, and technical. The test included four pirouettes – two full double pirouettes and two that were a pirouette and a half. The combination performed its first full left piaffe pirouette into the full right piaffe pirouette in Saturday’s Freestyle.

“He was super today,” continued Graves. “I was really pleased with the half-passes and keeping clean in all the changes. He really felt super rideable through the whole thing. We changed the music and I haven’t ridden to it since. We have added a second piaffe pirouette down the centerline. I was really proud of him doing the pirouette both ways and directly into the right pirouette. For me, that was really a highlight.”

Fellow American Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Danilo, Patricia Stempel’s 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding, performed a freestyle to an acapella accompaniment, finishing 12th on a score of 74.189 percent. When asked about her first FEI World Cup Dressage experience, Francis replied, “It feels good. I feel like we redeemed ourselves a little bit from yesterday, so that is good. He really felt very good. He is really trying and likes his music, so it’s awesome.”

Complete Results

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Werth Reigns Supreme to Become a Four-Time Champion

Photo: Isabell Werth with Weihegold. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

America’s Laura Graves chases her right to the line

In a dramatic conclusion to an extraordinary battle between two mighty forces, Germany’s Isabell Werth (48) posted a back-to-back victory at the FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final 2018 in Paris, France.

America’s Laura Graves (30) and Verdades put all the pressure on the defending champion when pinning her into runner-up spot in the Grand Prix, so in this deciding Freestyle Werth had it all to do to put that behind her and come back out fighting. But with her trademark steely determination, the phenomenal athlete produced a pristine performance to see off the challenge and lift the coveted trophy for the fourth time in her incredible career.

It was right down to the wire, however, and she knew that the slightest error was out of the question when second-last to go. Graves had already posted a massive score of 89.082 which, the US rider admitted, surprised even her. “I knew anything was possible. I knew it would take a score like that to possibly get a win and it was a huge personal best for me!” Graves said.

However, Werth mustered all the skill and experience of a lifetime to squeeze her rival out of pole position with the winning mark of 90.657. She described the Grand Prix defeat as “motivating“, and simply used it to spur herself on to better things with the help of team coach and manager, Monica Theodorescu. “Like I said yesterday, I was not really disappointed or sad; I was just thinking about how I had to prepare for today and how I had to make it better and analyse what went wrong. So Monica and I, we decided to go in the big warm-up arena today, to bring her (Weihegold) forward and to make her free again, and that worked, and today she was the horse I wanted to show yesterday.”

“This is life; a lot of people think it’s easy; you win and you win again, but it’s not like that. You have to think about it all the time and keep listening to your horse. Yesterday was not our day, but today we could solve it. And this is what I really like to do, and that’s the reason why I love to compete!” — Isabell Werth (GER)

The result was another reminder of the continuing resurgence of the German Dressage powerhouse, with Werth’s compatriots Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (Unee BB) and Dorothee Schneider (Sammy Davis Jr) slotting into third and fifth places. Von Bredow-Werndl’s success was at the expense of Sweden’s Patrik Kittel who, as always, had the crowd right behind him when producing another one of his toe-tapping performances with Deja but who just missed a place on the podium when having to settle for fourth.

Graves threw down something of a challenge at the press conference. “I never practice my Freestyle as much as my other tests, so I think now I have a bit of homework to do and I think there are many more points to be earned in the future,” she said, so she is clearly marking Werth’s card for the next time they meet.

However, the lady taking centre stage was one of the great role models in the sport whose accomplishments are so many they may never be matched. Werth is taking great satisfaction from her fourth FEI World Cup™ Dressage title, not just because it’s another success but because of the way she achieved it.

“To have experience is an advantage if you use it in the right way, and I think we did that from yesterday to today,” she said. “After a lot of years in the sport you know how many things can happen, how things can change very quickly. It gives you the confidence to go in the ring and to try your best – you know what your horse can do and you know what you can do. This was just a great day today!” said the happy German star.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Beezie and Breitling Are Unbeatable Again in Paris

Photo: Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

America’s Beezie Madden (54) almost made it look easy as she moved one step closer to clinching the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 title in Paris (FRA) with her second victory of the week with Breitling LS.

Last to go in a thrilling nine-horse jump-off, she cruised home to overtake The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders (37) and his lovely stallion Emerald, while Henrik von Eckermann (37) clinched third with the mare Toveks Mary Lou. And that result has promoted the Swede to second in the overall rankings ahead of Sunday’s two-round finale in which Madden will kick off with a one-fence advantage. The American star, and series champion in 2013, was thrilled with Breitling.

“He has a super temperament – actually he’s so nice that a lot of people don’t seem to realise he’s a stallion! He’s careful and clever, and every time I call on him he does everything I want – I couldn’t ask for any more!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

Her compatriot, Devin Ryan, held onto the third spot he established with Eddie Blue in the speed competition despite being one of six to collect a single time penalty over the 14-fence first-round track. Course designer, Spain’s Santiago Varela, set a fast enough time limit of 75 seconds, but it was the first two elements of the triple combination at fence nine that put paid to Marcus Ehning’s chances of becoming the first-ever four-time FEI World Cup™ champion. And it wasn’t Germany’s day as his compatriot Daniel Deusser, lying second overnight, saw his hopes of a second title crushed when his 2014 winning ride, Cornet d’Amour, appeared to mis-read the first element of the double at fence five.

Frenchman, Kevin Staut, led the way against the clock with Silver Deux de Virton HDC, and his clear set the early target at 36.87 seconds. He stayed out in front when America’s Jamie Barge and Luebbo were also foot-perfect but fractionally slower, but Smolders reset the parameters with a blistering round from the feisty stallion Emerald who broke the beam in 33.44 seconds. Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts didn’t threaten that with Legend of Love who crossed the line clear in 35.19, but von Eckermann came close when stopping the clock on 33.92 and then only Madden was left to challenge Smolders for the win.

A tight turn to the fourth fence on the jump-off track, a double of verticals, was essential, and although defending champions, America’s McLain Ward and HH Azur, posted the quickest time of 32.74 seconds, they hit the first element here. Madden’s Breitling, however, was flawless once again, putting on another jumping exhibition to clinch pole position as they breezed through the timers in 33.22. “Left turns to a vertical used to be our nemesis, but he’s figured out his front end now,” the double Olympic gold medallist pointed out.

When asked if she was feeling confident with a one-fence lead going into Sunday’s title-decider, she said, “It’s nice to have a rail in hand, but we are really only halfway through the competition. We have two more rounds and maybe a jump-off on Sunday… it can all change a lot yet.”

Smolders admitted he might have made an error of judgement in competing his other ride, Zinius, in the opening speed leg. “It’s always easy to say that afterwards, but Zinius had a very good indoor season and he’s naturally fast in speed classes so I made that decision, but it didn’t work out. I don’t like to lose, but I don’t mind being beaten by Beezie who won in style – and this was a great class tonight,” he said.

Madden’s closest rival on Sunday, however, will be von Eckermann. “I didn’t ride so great to the double of verticals (in the jump-off), I was a bit over-careful but my horse jumped both rounds fantastic,” he said, and you can tell he’s pretty confident that there’s plenty more left in Mary Lou’s tank for Sunday’s challenge.

But mistakes will be very costly indeed on the final afternoon, as Philippaerts, Ward, and Sweden’s Douglas Lindelow are in joint-fourth place carrying just six faults apiece, and Smolders and Colombia’s Carlos Lopez are only a single fault further behind.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Laura Graves and Verdades Win FEI Grand Prix at FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Laura Graves and Verdades. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Graves and Francis advance to FEI Grand Prix Freestyle

Paris, France – In their triumphant return to the FEI World Cup Dressage Final, Laura Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and Verdades claimed victory in the FEI Grand Prix to open the competition. On a grand prix personal best score of 81.413 percent, the powerful combination rode the centerline with poise and grace, showing the world that they arrived to compete. Germany’s Isabell Werth and Weihegold OLD placed second with a score of 78.261 percent, while Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER) and Unee BB came in third on a 75.668 percent.

“I am very happy with the performance,” said Graves. “It was our first time in this stadium with fans and it is going to be very exciting tomorrow. Everything is special. This is our third World Cup now, and I am hoping maybe third time is the charm for us. Today is actually Friday the 13th, isn’t it? That’s supposed to be bad luck, but not for us. So, a lot of special things. This is a big year for us. It is our first World Cup Final in Europe and a personal best today, so I am very excited going into tomorrow, and the rest of this year.”

Coming straight from competing in Florida, Graves and Verdades, the 16-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Curt Maes, were undefeated at the 2018 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, scoring over 80 percent in all the freestyle tests in which they entered. At the 2017 CHIO Aachen, Graves and Verdades bested Werth for the first time in the FEI Grand Prix Special with an 81.824 percent, making Friday’s FEI Grand Prix at the Finals their second win over the talented German athlete.

“I always say it is a little scary with such a fierce competitor, because I know [Isabell] is going to ride even harder tomorrow,” continued Graves. “But that’s why I’m here. I like to put myself in a situation to also be challenged. I think it makes me a better competitor, a better rider, and we will certainly continue to put ourselves against the toughest competition.”

The 17 riders receiving scores above 60 percent in the Grand Prix will move forward to compete in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, which will determine the champion of the 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final.

Fellow American Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Danilo, Patricia Stempel’s 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding, finished the Grand Prix with a score of 68.236 percent. They will be the first combination down the centerline in the Freestyle.

Complete results.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

A Magical Round with Breitling Gives America’s Madden Early Lead

Photo: Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

She’s done it before, coming out on top five years ago, and America’s Beezie Madden, one of just four lady riders in the field of 37 starters, threw down the gauntlet to all the rest when galloping to victory in the opening speed competition at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final 2018 in Paris (FRA).

The double Olympic gold medallist gave her 12-year-old stallion, Breitling LS, a spectacular ride, full of confidence, precision and determination to finish almost a second clear of runner-up Daniel Deusser (36) from Germany who also knows what it’s like to hold this coveted World Cup trophy in his hands. The big surprise of the evening was the third-place finish for Madden’s compatriot, the relatively unknown Devin Ryan (36) who goes into the second test just three points off the lead after results were calculated into points.

But none of those at the head of the leaderboard have any room for complacency, because stalking them is three-time title-holder Marcus Ehning from Germany who finished fourth with Cornado NRW, while one of the most talked-about partnerships ahead of these Finals, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and Toveks Mary Lou, are close behind in fifth. It’s going to be a sizzler all the way to the finale when the new champion will be crowned.

Madden was happy with her result having mastered the balance between speed and risk over the clever 13-fence course set by Spain’s Santiago Varela better than all the rest.

“It’s quite tense on the first day… it’s a little bit of a juggling act, so when it all works out well it’s a big relief!” — Beezie Madden (USA)

Fellow-American and defending champion McLain Ward fell victim to a tight turn to the penultimate double where HH Azur hit the first element, which added four seconds to their time and has left them in tenth place overall. That’s a long way behind, but as Madden pointed out, “At these Finals it’s just one day at a time!”

The omens are looking good for her, however. She recalled that when she steered Simon to victory, in a thrilling showdown against Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat in Gothenburg in 2013, she also won on the first day. And Breitling is really on top of his game right now.  “He’s only competed three weeks this year. He won the World Cup qualifier at Thermal, we did a 4-Star Grand Prix and Nations Cup (in Wellington) and he was clear in the Nations Cup and won the Grand Prix and then did another 4-Star Grand Prix (in Wellington) and won that as well,” she pointed out. She’s delighted with this horse which, like her previous winner Simon, she got from Dutch Olympic champion Jeroen Dubbeldam and which she has now been riding for five years.

Deusser has every reason to be pleased too, because it is the horse that carried him to glory in Lyon (FRA) in 2014 that has put him right in the frame. The 15-year-old Cornet d’Amour has had a long injury-break but was clearly back in the zone, and although Deusser has the possibility of an alternative ride for the next two competitions, he said that he will probably bring the grey back out over the next two days because he’s feeling really great.

At just nine years of age, Devin Ryan’s Eddie Blue is the youngest horse at this Final. “It’s been a dream of mine to represent the States at some level and so here we are and it’s great that there are two of us up here tonight!” he said when joining the considerably more experienced Madden on the press conference platform.

The second test may bring some significant changes, however, and with Belgium’s Pieter Devos (Espoir), Spain’s Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Mar), Colombia’s Carlos Lopez (Admara) and Sweden’s Douglas Lindelow (Zacramento) also squeezed inside that top 10, and double-champion Steve Guerdat just a single point behind Ward in eleventh place, then the leaders have very little breathing room. And as Deusser said, “We had a very very good course because nobody went really really fast – I think all the horses are jumping good still and have enough power for tomorrow.” Power is what the second competition will be all about.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Beezie Madden and Breitling LS Win Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final I

Beezie Madden and Breitling LS. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Paris, France – With the poise, grace, and horsemanship that fans adore her for, Elizabeth ‘Beezie’ Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) guided Breitling LS to a win in the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final I (Jumping Speed Class), the first round of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final. The four-time Olympian was the first U.S. athlete of the evening to ride clear over Santiago Varela Ullastres’s course, stopping the clock at 61.89 seconds. Germany’s Daniel Deusser and Cornet d’Amour finished in second with 62.61 seconds, and Final newcomer and fellow American, Devin Ryan (Long Valley, N.J.), placed third at 62.84 seconds.

“I thought [Breitling LS] was fantastic today,” said Madden. “You know, I think this [class] is one of the hardest parts of the world cup. The courses get harder, but today is strategy and trying to execute it perfectly is difficult, and it went according to plan. He was fantastic; he was right there for me every time I called on him.”

Madden and the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Abigail Wexner come fresh off wins during the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival, including winning the $205,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Grand Prix CSI4* and the $205,000 CSIO4* Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix.

“He has gotten quite fast and he’s won quite a few classes in the last year,” continues Madden. “Some horses you might not take such a risk today because you need the horse to be rideable and careful for the rest of the competition, but those are his strong points: he’s rideable and he’s careful. So I thought it was okay today to take a shot.”

Madden won the Final in Göteborg in 2013 aboard Simon. When asked if she remembered what position she was in after the first class in 2013, she stated that she won that first class as well.

Ryan and Eddie Blue, the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by LL Show Jumpers, LLC, made a splash in their FEI World Cup Jumping Final debut with a clear round, heading into the second class in the third position.

“I know I have a really good horse,” stated Ryan. “He has been competing very well in the States. It has always been a dream of mine to represent the United States, so here we are. I am very happy to be here, and it’s great that there are two of us up here tonight.”

View full results.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Graves and Francis Primed to Compete for US in 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final

Laura Graves and Verdades. Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Paris, France – Two strong dressage combinations will represent the U.S. in the 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris, France, April 13 and 14. Coming off high scores at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival (AGDF), both Laura Graves and Shelly Francis, and their horses, are prepared and ready to compete.

Meet the Athletes

Olympic bronze medalist Laura Graves (Geneva, Fla.) will look to defend her FEI World Cup Dressage Final second-place finish in 2017. She and Verdades, a 16-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Curt Maes, were undefeated in their showing at the 2018 AGDF. The combination topped the leaderboard in the Grand Prix CDI-W and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W during week three, the Grand Prix CDI5* and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI5* during week five, and the Grand Prix CDI-W and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W during week eight. Earning one of their highest scores ever, an 84.975 percent in the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle, Graves and Verdades are hoping to squeeze every point they can out of their tests in Paris.

“Omaha was an especially important event for us,” said Graves. “It is always terrific to ride in your home country, but this is my third World Cup [Final], and we’re here in Paris and honestly, just as excited. Hopefully, we are better than last year; hopefully we are better than we were yesterday. That is always our goal. It is also the first time [Isabell Werth] and I will be head-to-head since Aachen last year, where we were able to come out on top in the grand prix special. A lot of top competitors are here from other countries. We are certainly going to give it our best shot.”

Graves and Verdades were a valuable combination in The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team’s silver-medal finish and gold-medal finish in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ Germany, at CHIO Aachen, and the FEI Dressage Nations Cup The Netherlands, respectively, in 2017.

Shelly Francis (Loxahatchee, Fla.) will show at her first FEI World Cup Dressage Final with Danilo, Patricia Stempel’s 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding. The combination placed second in the Grand Prix CDI-W and Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W during week one of the 2018 AGDF. Francis and Danilo placed second in the CDI-W Grand Prix Freestyle during week three of the 2018 AGDF with a 77.72 percent, earning Danilo’s highest freestyle score ever. The combination then posted a personal best score for their grand prix special test of 73.979 percent when they won the Grand Prix Special CDI4* during week 10 of the 2018 AGDF, then placed second in the Grand Prix CDI4*.

Although a new face to the Final, Francis is a veteran and skilled competitor, selected as the traveling reserve with Doktor for the U.S. Olympic Dressage Team for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, as well as with Pikant in 1996 for the Atlanta Olympic Games and in 1998 for the WEG in Rome.

Competition Information

Competition for the Final begins Friday with the FEI Grand Prix at 9:30 a.m. EST. Saturday’s FEI Grand Prix Freestyle begins at 8:00 a.m. EST, with its results determining the FEI World Cup Dressage Champion. Watch the live stream on FEI TV.

View more information about the 2018 FEI World Cup Dressage Final.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Veteran and New Faces Comprise US Show Jumping Contingent at FEI World Cup Jumping Final

McLain Ward and HH Azur. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

McLain Ward looking to complete back-to-back wins

Paris, France – Ten of the nation’s top U.S. show jumpers will compete for the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Paris, France, April 11-15, at the AccorHotels Arena. The U.S. contingent will face stiff competition from the likes of Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann, Frenchman Kevin Staut, and other top Europeans coming off an indoor season. Thirty-eight athletes will seek the illustrious title, as a string of veterans and newcomers compete for the United States.

Meet the Athletes

Longines FEI World Cup, North American East Coast Sub-League

Among the veterans, McLain Ward (Brewster, N.Y.), the reigning Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final champion, will ride HH Azur, Double H Farm and François Mathy’s 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare. The four-time Olympian and three-time FEI World Equestrian Games™ competitor will look to defend his title on the bold, bay mare that carried him in 2017.

“Any of the 37 best riders in this final are able to win the title. The bottom line for me will be focusing on my job and our performance,” said Ward. “But with HH Azur, my main concern will be to ride her as best as possible and if I succeed, I will have a good chance of winning.”

The combination most recently placed third in the $384,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI5* and won the $132,000 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) Challenge Cup Round V CSI5* during week five of WEF. Ward and HH Azur anchored the U.S. Show Jumping Team to a silver-medal finish at the 2017 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona, Spain, last September.

Alison Robitaille (Upperville, Va.) will ride Ace, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Bertram and Diana Firestone, in her fifth FEI World Cup Jumping Final appearance. Most recently, the duo were top-five in the $265,000 Longines Grand Prix CSI5* during week five of the 2018 HITS Ocala Winter Festival. They also were top-five in the $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Washington CSI4*-W for the President’s Cup at the 2017 Washington International Horse Show, and were members of the 2017 silver-medal winning U.S. Show Jumping Team at FEI Jumping Nations Cup Mexico. Robitaille served as part of the U.S. team at the 1998 FEI World Equestrian Games Rome.

Devin Ryan (Long Valley, N.J.) and Eddie Blue will make their Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final debut. Ryan and the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by LL Show Jumpers, LLC, recently placed second in the $35,000 Longines FEI World Ranking Class CSI3*-W at the 2018 Live Oak International. They also served as the reserve combination for the NetJets® U.S. Show Jumping Team at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup USA in February. They placed second in the $265,000 Longines Grand Prix CSI5* during week five of the 2018 HITS Ocala Winter Festival.

Elizabeth “Beezie” Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.), a two-time Olympic gold medalist and three-time FEI World Equestrian Games competitor, won the FEI World Cup Jumping Final in 2013 in Göteborg, Sweden, with Simon. For the 2018 final, Madden will ride Abigail Wexner’s 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion Breitling LS. They arrive at the Final with wins at the $205,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Grand Prix CSI4* and the $205,000 CSIO4* Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix during week 11 and week eight of WEF, respectively. Madden and Breitling LS placed second in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Thermal CSI3*-W at the 2018 HITS Coachella Desert Circuit. Madden contributed to the silver-medal finish of the U.S. Show Jumping Team at the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Spain last September, with Darry Lou.

Kristen Vanderveen (Wellington, Fla.) appears in her first Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final aboard Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion owned by Bull Run Jumpers Five LLC. The North American Junior and Young Rider Championship alum earned her spot in the Final after winning the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Ocala Grand Prix at the 2018 Live Oak International. She and Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili also placed in the top 10 in the $216,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping New York CSI4*-W at the 2017 American Gold Cup.

Sarah Scheiring (Chester, N.J.) will ride Cheval Equestrian LLC and Molly Ben-Menachem’s 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Dontez. The pair comes off of an impressive season with several strong finishes. Those include top-five finishes in the Longines FEI World Cup Qualifier and the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Guadalajara at the 2018 Triple Copa Scappino CSI4*-W presented by Audi, as well as a third-place finish in the $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Calgary presented by Pure North at 2017 Royal West CSI3*-W. This will be the combination’s first Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final.

Andrew “Andy” Kocher (Howell, N.J.) will make his Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final debut with Navalo de Poheton. Kocher and the 17-year-old Selle Français gelding owned by MKO Equestrian LLC won the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Del Mar at the 2017 Del Mar International World Cup Week.

Charlie Jacobs (Boston, Mass.) returns for his fourth Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final. He and Cassinja S, the 12-year-old Zweibrücker mare owned by CMJ Sporthorse LLC placed in the top 10 in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Ocala CSI3*-W at the 2018 Live Oak International, as well as in the $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Washington CSI4*-W for the President’s Cup at the 2017 Washington International Horse Show. The combination also contributed to the gold-medal win of the U.S. Show Jumping Team in the 2017 BMO Nations’ Cup at Spruce Meadows.

Longines FEI World Cup, North American West Coast Sub-League

Richard Spooner (Agua Dulce, Calif.) will ride in his 15th  FEI World Cup Jumping Final on either Chatinus, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding that he owns with Tracy Katayama, or Arthos R, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by CNS Logistics, Inc. Spooner and Arthos R most recently won the $40,200 Desert Classic CSI3*-W during week four of the 2018 HITS Coachella Desert Circuit, as well as the $50,000 Las Vegas National Winning Round Jumper Classic at the 2017 Las Vegas National Horse Show. On Chatinus, Spooner claimed the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Las Vegas CSI4*-W presented by Interactive Mortgage at the 2017 Las Vegas National Horse Show to qualify for the Final.

Jamie Barge (Malibu, Calif.) and Luebbo return to the Final for their second consecutive year. She and the 13-year-old Oldenburg Springpferd gelding owned by Kylie Co. placed in the top 10 in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Ocala Grand Prix CSI3*-W at the 2018 Live Oak International and the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Thermal CSI3*-W at the 2018 HITS Desert Circuit, respectively.

Competition Information

The Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final gets underway Thursday evening with the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final I (Jumping Speed Class).

Watch it live on FEI TV beginning at 2:30 p.m. EST.

View more information about the 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

History on the Horizon as 40th Champion Will Be Crowned Next Week in Paris

Photo: It was an American victory, for Katharine Burdsall and The Natural, when the FEI World Cup™ Final was last staged in Paris (FRA) in 1987 where then FEI President, the Princess Royal, presented the trophy. (©Hippophot)

Every sport has its majors, and for the Olympic discipline of Jumping there is nothing to compare with the tension, excitement and prestige of battling for the ultimate prize of the indoor season – the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping trophy. The destination of this most coveted prize will be decided at the 2018 Final next week at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris (FRA) where 39 horse-and-rider combinations from all around the globe will gather in the quest for honour and glory.

The title is a seal of success and a measure of achievement, and winning it is one of the proudest moments in the career of any athlete who gets to place his or her name amongst the greats who have gone before them. You don’t come out on top by chance. The Final is a test of all that’s best about the horses and riders who have qualified from hard-fought leagues staged all around the globe — their partnership and mutual understanding, their power and speed, their courage, and their tenacity to give their best over three tough days of competition.

As America’s McLain Ward returns to defend the title he won so convincingly on home ground in Omaha (USA) last year, he knows that he and his brilliant mare HH Azur have it all to do once again. Becoming a back-to-back champion is no easy feat, but it has been done before – most notably by legendary combinations like the iconic Canadian duo of Ian Millar and Big Ben who reigned supreme in 1988 and 1989, and Great Britain’s John Whitaker who steered the magical grey, Milton, to victory in 1990 and again in 1991.

Those who have posted three wins are exceptional and, again, some of the biggest names in the sport. Austria’s Hugo Simon put himself into the record books as the very first champion riding Gladstone in 1979, and then returned to do it twice more with ET FRH in 1996 and 1997. Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum partnered the great Shutterfly to success in 2005 and again in 2008 and 2009, and compatriot Marcus Ehning claimed three titles with three different horses between 2003 and 2010. Perhaps the most remarkable three-time champion of all is Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa, because he succeeded in consecutive seasons between 1998 and 2000 and each time with the same super-stallion, the “King of the Ring” himself, Baloubet du Rouet.

Ehning is on the edge of history, as he goes into next week’s Final as the only rider with the chance of becoming the first four-time champion.

He is one of five former title-holders competing this time around, and each of them arrive in Paris on cracking current form. America’s Beezie Madden brings Breitling LS, Germany’s Daniel Deusser has two qualified horses, the strangely-coloured Cornet 39 and his 2014 winning ride Cornet d’Amour, and Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat, winner in both 2015 and 2016, is also double-handed, with Alamo and the super-speedy Bianca. Ward’s work will be cut out for him to keep these superstars in check, but sometimes surprises are sprung as the story of the closing stages of this fantastic series confirms.

Few expected Bruno Broucqsault and Dileme de Cephe to become the first French partnership to take the title in Milan (ITA) 14 years ago, and a second French victory is long overdue. If there is one man who deserves his date with destiny it is Kevin Staut who has campaigned tirelessly throughout the qualifying series over many long seasons and who brings two great horses, Reveur de Hurtebise HDC and Silver Deux de Virton HDC with him to this year’s finale on his home turf. Could his moment have arrived at last?

To make it happen he will have to see off tremendous challenges from riders like Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann who finished third last year and who brings the brilliant mare Toveks Mary Lou, and of course Britain’s Michael Whitaker whose hunger for this title is second-to-none after 24 previous attempts and many podium placings.

The statistics show that riders from just nine nations – Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, Switzerland and USA – have claimed the trophy down the years and that Germany and the USA have each won it on 10 occasions. The youngest rider ever to reign supreme was 1984 champion Mario Deslauriers from Canada who was just 19 years old at the time, and he partnered the youngest horse ever to come out on top, the 7-year-old Aramis.

A total of 28 different riders have held this unique trophy in their hands, and the one and only time the Final previously took place in Paris, 31 years ago back in 1987, a 28-year-old American called Katharine Burdsall pinned 24-year-old Frenchman, Philippe Rozier, into runner-up spot.

A total of 43 riders from 11 nations lined out that year, this time around it is 39 riders from 19 countries as the sport continues to spread its appeal around the world, and the battle for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping trophy will be hotter than ever. It’s the one they all want, and the action gets underway on 11 April.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46