Katie Dinan at the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping™ 2014. (Tony Parkes/FEI)
Lausanne (SUI), 7 August 2015 – The world’s top Jumping riders have annually chased FEI World Cup™ Jumping points for nearly four decades. Now, in a step towards elevating and standardizing elite-level Jumping, the Swiss watchmaker Longines has partnered with the FEI to launch the North American League.
The new series of 14 events will provide an improved qualifying experience for the sport’s horses, riders, organizers and spectators in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The seed for the North American League was planted when Longines became the FEI’s Official Top Partner, Timekeeper and Watch in 2012, taking on responsibilities including data handling and time keeping for a number of FEI championships and series.
Longines is a major supporter of the Olympic sport of Jumping around the world, and is already title partner of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Western European League and Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping China League.
Longines has not only doubled the prize money for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final, which has a jackpot of more than US $ 1.4 million (€1.3 million), but is now supporting the further growth of Jumping across North America as the Founding and Title Partner, Official Watch and Official Timekeeper of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League. Longines will also provide a dedicated timekeeping team and data handling service for each of the 14 qualifiers.
The decision to launch the North American League stemmed from Longines’ commitment to the sport, according to John Madden, FEI First Vice-President and Chair of the FEI Jumping Committee, and its selection of North America for an official series is a solid step toward the continued enhancement of FEI-level competition on the continent.
At the series’ end, a hard-fought battle will qualify seven US athletes from the qualifiers on the East Coast, three US athletes from the West Coast, and two Canadian and two Mexican athletes for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Gothenburg (SWE) on 23-28 March 2016.
Canadian start to a new era
The journey embarks on 9 August on the East Coast and on 16 August on the West Coast, when a new era of Jumping in North America will begin at two of the four Canadian venues in this new series – the Bromont Equestrian Park in Quebec (9 August) and Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, British Columbia (16 August).
The 14 qualifiers in the series are spread out equally on both coasts. A large number of bids was narrowed down into a long list of 25 applicants before the final line-up of show grounds were selected to host the qualifier classes.
“A large number of bids for the 14 shows gave us the chance to impose extremely high standards for the North American League,” John Madden said. “It’s a great incentive for the organizers to not be satisfied with the bare minimums, but to have the ultimate competitive atmosphere in this new league.”
The new North American series, with predetermined standards and FEI rules, has required organizers to agree to contractual obligations to meet every aspect of the hosting agreement.
Bromont Equestrian Park
Bromont Equestrian Park hosted the equestrian sports during the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games. The riding center was originally founded in 1965 as a private club, but opened its doors in 1969 to the public. In 1974, the facilities were completely upgraded in anticipation of the Olympic Games, and some of the best equestrian park designers converted the facilities into a world-class venue. Since the Montreal Olympic Games, the Equestrian Park has maintained its prestige through meticulous upkeep and hosting annual, international-level events.
“We are honored to host the first World Cup qualifier for the East Coast,” said Roger Deslauriers, manager of Bromont Equestrian Park. “We have prepared very seriously for the event, and have redone the footing in the competition arenas and in the training rings. Last weekend, we had a Grand Prix with 8,000 spectators, and if the weather is nice, next weekend should be even better.”
Thunderbird Show Park is one of North America’s premier equestrian facilities. Located in the horse capital of British Columbia, the show grounds are close to the vibrant city of Vancouver. The show grounds host approximately six major Jumping tournaments per year. A family-owned and run operation, Thunderbird Show Park is committed to continuing its ongoing promise of providing the highest quality facility for the sport.
“It is our honor to host the first event of the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping North American League,” said Chris Pack, Thunderbird Show Park’s Vice President of Operations and Tournament Manager. “Thunderbird has been welcoming competitors to our grounds for more than four decades, and we expect this will be our best week yet.”
Young guns and veterans head-to-head in Bromont
“With this format, the Beezies, McLains and Kents can qualify with seven efforts, and without interfering with their various global commitments, like Nations Cups,” Madden said. “Qualifying in this way is really doable and palatable, and it will have the best riders in North America going to the maximum number of events.”
The aforementioned seasoned riders will be traveling abroad, representing the United States in team and individual competitions. They will compete in the future North American League qualifiers, but in the meantime, their absence at Bromont leaves the door wide open for the up-and-coming riders to take an early lead on points.
Fresh off a team gold win at the Pan American Games in Toronto in July, the Canadian riders may once again cash in on their home turf advantage. Canadian Olympic riders Jill Henselwood and Mac Cone, both a part of the team silver effort at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, will compete at Bromont. They will be joined by eight fellow Canadians, including Jaclyn Duff of Edmonton, Alberta, who won the Jump Canada Talent Squad Final in 2012, earning herself a regular position on the Canadian team for international competitions. She scored her first FEI victory at the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park in 2014.
Nine athletes from the US will also compete at Bromont. Katherine “Katie” Dinan, who is just 22 years old, won individual gold at the FEI North American Young Rider Championship 2011, before helping the US team win the Aga Khan Trophy during the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping™ 2014 at the Dublin Horse Show. Dinan is based out of Wellington, Fla., and is expected to graduate from Harvard University next year. She has already made appearances at the two most recent FEI World Cup™ Finals, finishing overall 14th in 2014.
Quentin Judge is a professional rider at Double H Farm, with operations based in Ridgefield, Conn. and Wellington, Fla. Judge’s first FEI-level victory was in the $50,000 Husky Energy Cup at the Spruce Meadows ‘Continental’ Tournament in 2013. He has also represented the US at Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping™ competitions, helping the team to multiple gold medal wins.
Live FEI TV action
Tune in to live action at all of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League qualifiers on FEI TV, the FEI’s official video platform: www.feitv.org.
Competitions leading up to the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League qualifiers that are being staged at the venues of this brand new league will be livestreamed on the FEI’s YouTube channel. Go to www.youtube.com/user/feichannel to see full details on the livestream.
Share images, video, experiences using hashtag #FEIWorldCupNAL.
Let the action begin!
Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League
The new North American league was launched by Beezie Madden, the most decorated US female equestrian athlete of all time, American Gold Cup winner and FEI Solidarity Ambassador Jessica Springsteen, and Hannah Selleck, team and individual gold medallist at young rider level and one of the sport’s up-and-coming stars. The full launch release is available here: https://goo.gl/kCIsyW.
The North American League boasts a minimum of US $2.4 million prize money across the series, and offers the best Jumping athletes from North America and around the world the chance to qualify for the jackpot of more than US $1.4 million (€1.3 million) on offer annually at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final.
A total of 14 athletes from the North American league will qualify for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final, which will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 23-28 March 2016. The top seven athletes from the East Coast US, top three from West Coast US, and the two best-placed athletes from Canada and Mexico will qualify for this Final, alongside winners of 13 leagues around the world.
By Esther Hahn
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