Tag Archives: FEI

Strong Squad Delivers Decisive FEI Eventing Nations Cup Victory for New Zealand

Tim Price (NZL) riding Falco. Photo Copyright: ©FEI/Libby Law Photography

Team New Zealand are setting themselves up to be strong contenders for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games next year, and results at Millstreet further reinforced that. An experienced quartet led from start to finish at the Irish event, to leave them on an impressive final score of 114.6. This is one of the best team finishing scores seen in this popular eight-leg series in recent years, perhaps unsurprising given World number one and two riders Tim and Jonelle Price made up half of the team. They were joined by the experienced Clarke Johnstone and rising star, Samantha Lissington. Team Belgium were runners-up on 131.9, whilst Ireland delighted their home crowd by finishing third in what was a fierce competition.

The cross-country course proved the make or break of many combinations and teams and making the time was suitably challenging, with no riders finishing inside. Tim Price won the class overall on Falco, the horse that also gave him an individual and team bronze in Pratoni. His wife Jonelle also played her part on the ‘pocket rocket’ McClaren. The Prices, joined by Clarke Johnstone, were all members of the bronze-medal winning team at last year’s FEI Eventing World Championship in Pratoni del Vivaro (ITA).  All three riders were mounted on experienced horses who continued their reliable form by jumping double clears in the Jumping and cross-country phases. They were joined by Samantha Lissington, who was the drop score after picking up 20 penalties for a refusal on the cross-country phase.

Chef d’Equipe of the New Zealand Team is former Olympic Eventing rider Sam Griffiths, who summed up the result. “We are really proud of their performance. Because New Zealand doesn’t have the equivalent of a European Championship, we decided that we wanted to target a couple of Nations Cups, of which Millstreet is one, so we sent a strong contingent. It’s really good to bring the group together and practice what we need to do. We will also be hoping to do well at Aachen. It’s always really good to target an event and then deliver a really good result at that event, so we are really pleased.”

Riders were full of praise for the event and cross-country phase which was designed by Mike Etherington-Smith. “One of the reasons why we targeted Millstreet is that we know how beautiful the venue is. The Duggan family takes amazing care of it. We love Mike Etherington-Smith’s courses. They are always beautifully presented and even with the going being fast, time was incredibly difficult even with experienced combinations going pretty much as fast as they could,” said Griffiths.

Tim Price was delighted with his horse Falco, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding.

“Falco is a cracking horse; he’s established now and his intelligence is being used for the good of everyone. I was really proud of him, he’s such a cool wee horse,” said Price.

“We took this seriously because the New Zealand team were using Millstreet as a marker point for the powers that be back at home. It was important that we delivered a decent result and showed that we were on track this year and through to Paris, so we treated it as such and all brought good horses onto the team. The time was very tight (on the cross-country) so it felt like a proper test.”

The Kiwis have had mixed success at major team championships in recent years, but Griffiths believes they have a great and long-lasting future ahead, with Millstreet highlighting that. “We had incredibly strong performances from Clarke Johstone and Jonelle, so we were really solid. We are really starting to grow some strength and depth. At Millstreet we had 19 combinations competing and, for a country that is on the other side of the world, that shows it is really developing.”

The Belgian team, who finished in second place, also delivered some solid jumping performances. Tine Magnus, Belgian team member spoke for the team: “We’re going for the Olympic qualification, so we’ll be off to Strzegom next – and we’re going to win! Millstreet is a wonderful place. The cross-country was great to ride; we’re not used to such lovely big galloping tracks.”

FEI Eventing Director Catrin Norinder was also present at the event, and said: “We’d like to thank Millstreet and the Duggan family for putting on such a great FEI Eventing Nations Cup™. The surroundings and cross-country course are amazing. It was truly competitive and a unique opportunity to get so many nations together.”

This FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ series is of particular significance to some nations this year, as the highest-placed team according to the final team classification of the 2023 Series, excluding teams/NOCs already qualified, will be allocated a place for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

This was the third leg of the Series which will now move to Strzegom (POL) which runs from 21-25 June. The Belgians lead the Nations Cup Series at this early stage, with 270 points scored, after winning the opening event in Montelibretti last month to add to their second place.


by Eleanore Kelly


Swiss Sweep to Victory Again in St Gallen

Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei. FEI/Martin Dokoupil

They waited 22 years to post a long-awaited win on home ground in St Gallen last year, and Team Switzerland stole the show once again when topping the opening leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2023 Europe Division 1 series at their home venue.

Their back-to-back victory was no walk in the park, however, with the result only decided in a thrilling jump-off against the clock in which home hero Martin Fuchs sealed it with a clear round from Leoni Jei, while Brazil’s Yuri Mansur and Miss Blue-Saint Blue Farm QH were quicker but left the very last fence on the floor.

The Brazilians were truly impressive, firmly in the lead at the halfway stage on a zero score and without even having to call on their anchor partnership of Pedro Veniss and Nimrod de Muze Z. But in the end, it was Fuchs and teammates Edouard Schmitz, Bryan Balsiger, and Steve Guerdat who stood top of the podium, both Balsiger and Guerdat bolstering Swiss chances with superb double-clear performances.


The time-allowed of 77 seconds proved generous over Swiss course designer Gerard Lachat’s 12-fence track, but the final line of three fences that included a triple bar to a tight double of vertical-to-oxer and the final planks proved influential.

In glorious sunshine, the horses looked fresh and full of enthusiasm as they enjoyed the big open arena, and when Francisco Jose Mesquita Musa (Alea Marathon), Rodrigo Pessoa (Major Tom), and Mansur and his impressive 10-year-old mare all went clear first time out, then Veniss didn’t need to go as only the best three scores would count.

However, Great Britain and Switzerland were only a fence behind, on four faults going into round two when the British fell back with the addition of eight, while the Swiss, in contrast, really rose to the challenge to add nothing to their four-fault scoreline.


The first chink in the Brazilian armour was a brick out of the wall at fence two in an otherwise foot-perfect second run from Mesquita Musa. Pessoa produced a second spectacular clear and Veniss was faultless on his first tour of the track, but when Mansur’s mare kicked out the top plank at fence five at her second attempt, then they moved also on to a four-fault tally, forcing a third-round head-to-head.

That was also a thriller, Fuchs throwing down a superb target time of 42.14 seconds with a clear that had the home crowd gasping all the way. But Mansur was well up on time coming to the last and broke the beam in 41.84 seconds. Fuchs didn’t see the final fence fall for the Brazilian and initially thought he’d been beaten.

“I couldn’t even watch the last fence because I was looking at the time on the clock hoping Yuri would be slower. And then the clock stopped and he was faster and I was ‘whaaaat’!” said Fuchs.

As it happened, he had nothing to worry about. “I have to say congrats to team Brazil and Yuri Mansur for really making it so exciting for everyone today,” he added.

A great day

“What a great day!” 30-year-old multiple champion Fuchs said. “It was a very exciting class; my teammates were fantastic and my horse was great. I had a rail in the first round and was obviously very disappointed with that, because he jumped fantastic and I really thought we could go for the clear. But in the next round he really gave everything, and that’s also why we decided I would be the one to jump off, because my horse felt great today.”

When Swiss pathfinder Schmitz had the first element of the triple combination at fence six down on his second tour of the track, there was nothing sure about the destination of the St Gallen Nations Cup title.

“Now I knew we had to deliver clear rounds, because the Brazilian team looked very, very strong in the first round. We knew we had to put pressure on them and that’s how it turned out. It worked out really great, and it’s always very sweet to win in front of the home crowd,” Fuchs added.


When asked if the result is encouraging ahead of the challenge of achieving qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, which until now has evaded Team Switzerland, Fuchs quickly replied, “We don’t need any encouragement! We are all already highly motivated to get this Olympic qualification, and a win like this gives you confidence, gives you a boost. If you can win in front of the home crowd where the pressure is high, then you know you can deliver also at a Championship, and that’s an important point we can take away from today,” he said.

Olympic places are on offer at the forthcoming FEI Jumping European Championship and at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2023, which will take place in Barcelona (ESP) at the end of September. But before all that, there will be another five exciting rounds to decide the line-up for the Longines Final to which the top seven of the ten nations competing in Europe Division 1 will make the cut.

Sopot in Poland is the next port of call for competitors in this exciting top-level series, which also stops off at Rotterdam (NED) later in June before moving to Falsterbo (SWE) and Hickstead (GBR) in July and finally visits Dublin (IRL) in August.

by Louise Parkes


United States Is Golden in the Golden State

McLain Ward (USA) riding Contagious (FEI/McCool Photos)

The United States won their second consecutive Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ event Sunday in San Juan Capistrano (USA), securing a comfortable victory in front of a home crowd at The Oaks International Grand Prix Field two weeks after triumphing in Mexico.

The event marked the first Nations Cup event held in the state of California, and Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland brought forward a powerhouse team that featured Lillie Keenan (Argan de Beliard), Karl Cook (Kalinka van’t Zorgvliet), Laura Kraut (Dorado), and McLain Ward (Contagious).

The squad delivered. Over Leopoldo Palacios’ (VEN) 1.60m track, they finished on a total score of 12 faults. Ireland finished second (17 faults), with Mexico third (33 faults).

“Qualifying for the Nations Cup [Finals] in Barcelona had to be a major priority, because that’s one of two ways left to qualify for the Olympics. We basically took our ‘A’ team at the beginning of the year and split it in half. We sent the first half to Mexico [and came here] with the other half,” said Ridland.

All three riders from the U.S.’s silver medal-winning squad from Tokyo were represented across the two teams. In Mexico, Kraut delivered three clear rounds when prevailing in a jump-off against Mexico. In San Juan Capistrano, it was Ward’s turn to lead the way. Ward produced the only double-clear effort on the day aboard his partner from the Tokyo Olympic Games, Contagious.

“I thought Leopoldo set a very challenging track. When I walked it, I have to say I was a tiny bit surprised at how big it was,” Ward said. “But it’s a five-star Nations Cup. There are huge consequences to this qualification, and that’s the way it should be.”

The United States boasted a comfortable lead heading into the second round, with more than a rail in hand over Canada. But Ireland launched a tremendous rally their second time around the course. Neither Andrew Bourns (Sea Topblue), David Blake (Claude), nor Conor Swail (Nadal Hero & DB) touched a pole, finishing the round with just a single fault added to their scorecard.

That put a greater amount of pressure on the home nation, but veterans Kraut and Ward were clear for the U.S., securing the victory. Not a single U.S. rider incurred more than 4 faults in a single round of competition.

“When this group of riders that we have here are on form, it suits us when it’s more difficult. So I think it worked in our favour,” said Ward.

Kraut was the only rider to have also competed in Mexico. In that event, she rode her Tokyo Olympic Games mount, Baloutinue. In San Juan Capistrano, she brought forward 10-year-old Dorado for his Nations Cup debut.

“I was thrilled with him,” Kraut said. “I will tell you, in the first round, he definitely was impressed. I agree with McLain that the course was much more difficult than I was expecting, and it caught me off guard. [Dorado] was a little bit shy from the first round, and he could have gotten smaller for the second round, or he could have grown. He grew and rode around beautifully, like he’d been doing it a long time.”

With their victory, the United States increased their lead in the North and Central America and Caribbean division; they boast 200 points. Mexico sits second with 170 points, and Canada is third (150 points).

The division concludes in Vancouver (CAN) on 4 June 2023.

Full Results

By Catie Staszak


It’s the American Dream for Germany, Taking Top Honours in All Classes

Chiara Congia and Justin Van Gerven (GER) with Max – FEI / Richard Juilliart.

While there was little doubt that Germany would go home with a title, the question ahead of the Burlington Capital FEI Vaulting World Cup™ Final was just how many could they win?

Kathrin Meyer (GER) had one foot firmly on the podium after her technical test, and she made it clear with her freestyle that she had no intention of letting anyone else have the top spot. Powerfully, she moved through her robotic freestyle to take the title at her debut FEI Vaulting World Cup™ Final. Together with her Mum, Sonja Meyer, and her own horse, San Classico S, the trio proved an unbeatable combination (8.428).

“I’m really happy; it was the first time I showed my new freestyle… and my new inside ground jump worked pretty well. I’m really happy with that,” said Meyer.

Danielle Bürgi (SUI) remained hot on the heels of the German vaulter. However, even with her creative freestyle winning the round, it wasn’t enough. Vaulting on Best Brew, lunged by Andrea Selch, she finished in second, only 0.082 behind (8.346).

Professionalism and experience shone through for Julia Sophie Wagner of Germany. A technical hitch led to a music error at the start of her round, but she didn’t falter and instead pulled off an excellent freestyle to rise up the rankings and finish in bronze medal position atop DSP Sir Laulau with Hendrik Falk (7.791). The USA’s Kimberly Palmer was left just outside the medal positions, scoring 7.736.

In the Men’s competition, the first-round scores made all the difference. Home favourite Daniel Janes performed the second-best freestyle but was unable to move up the leader board, finishing in sixth (7.190). Switzerland’s Andrin Müller excited the crowd and he clung on to his well-earned day one third place, giving Andrea Selch and Best Brew another podium finish (7.514).

Despite overbalancing in an early ground jump, Sam dos Santos just about held it together.  He recovered well and showed glimpses of huge potential in his freestyle for this season. The Dutch vaulter finished his first FEI Vaulting World Cup Final™ in second place, with Max and Sarah Krauss, and is sure to already have his eyes on the title (8.052).

On this occasion, the men were completely outclassed by Jannik Heiland. With a 0.5-point lead, and on his 5th attempt, the German vaulter calmly executed his freestyle and took Sonja Meyer and San Classico S to the top of the podium for the second time.

“It’s a massive arena; it was a very great feeling and it’s an honour for me to be here. To win the World Cup Final, it was a big wish for me to get this title my whole life,” he said.

The German domination continued into the Pas de Deux class. There was no problem for DSP Sir Laulau and Hendrik Falk, allowing Diana Harwardt and Peter Künne to dig deep and ensure to overcome as much of the deficit from the first round as possible. A massive 8.516 in the second round threw down the gauntlet for the remaining combinations and set 7.876 as the final score to beat.

“We were so grateful that we could show the whole freestyle, and the last block was good, and we couldn’t hope for more,” said Künne.

Danish combination Freja Linde and Maria Thinggaard Sorensen went smoothly, but it wasn’t enough, and they settled for fourth, 7.641.  With slight hesitations, Romana Hintner and Eva Nagiller couldn’t keep Austria ahead as they were pushed into in third place at 7.832.

As Chiara Congia and Justin van Gerven entered for their swan song, they only had to be clean to take the title. In a momentary loss of balance, Justin came off the horse after a freestanding lift. Quick reactions from Chiara kept her on and reduced the points lost by the error.

They completed the test in spectacular style, but had to wait for the final scores to see if the slip had cost them the title. Fortunately, they proved too strong for their competitors and clearly won the class, with Alexandra Knauf and Max. They finished as the only pair with a final score above 8.0 (8.341).

“It’s always special to win a competition. Then it’s a World Cup Final; that’s amazing, a new title for us; we weren’t able to win that one yet, and then flying to America and to make this amazing journey is also really special,” said Van Gerven.

The Burlington Capital FEI Vaulting World Cup™ Final has proved an incredible show of teamwork and horsemanship for all involved. The first Final out with Europe was a huge success; however, the Germans have shown they mean business and they don’t look like they’re willing to give it up any time soon.


by Joanne Littlejohn


A Brilliant Back-to-Back Double for Jessica and Dalera

Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER) – FEI/Richard Juilliart

The German duo of Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and the fabulous TSF Dalera BB claimed the coveted FEI Dressage World Cup™ title for the second time in their spectacular career when winning the deciding Freestyle competition at the 2023 series Final in Omaha, USA.

They arrived at the American fixture as firm favourites but looked vulnerable in Wednesday’s Grand Prix when the 16-year-old mare was super-excited to return to competition after a few months’ break.

Dalera was right back in the zone that saw this superstar partnership scoop all gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and again at the FEI European Championships in 2021 before putting their names on the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Roll of Honour 12 months ago in Leipzig (GER).


It seemed likely that Wednesday’s Grand Prix result, in which von Bredow-Werndl’s compatriot and longtime legend, Isabell Werth, finished second with DSP Qantaz and Denmark’s Nanna Skodborg Merrald and Blue Horse Zepter finished third, would be replicated. But the Danish pair, who seems to have come out of nowhere in the last few months, produced a spectacular performance to demote five-time series champion Werth to the third step of the podium this time around.

The field was further reduced to 13 starters following the withdrawal of The Netherlands’ Marieke van der Putten’s Torveslettens Titanium RS2, but the Omaha crowd were still treated to a feast of fantastic sport. They didn’t hold back when the riders encouraged them to join in with the excitement.

Second into the ring, Lithuania’s Justina Vanagaite had them right behind her as she rode her one-handed final line with Nabab, but it was Simone Pearce and Fiderdance who were holding the lead at the halfway stage when the Australian rider’s cheeky wave at the crowd before coming to a halt was followed by the best score to date, 76.575.

Raised the game

The last remaining Dutch contender, Thamar Zweistra, raised the game when the action resumed with a super test from Hexagon’s Ich Weiss that put 78.204 on the board. “I was really proud of him,” she said. “The one-tempis were amazing; he did about 25 in a row and he was really relaxed. I had a lot of fun. He has a lot of energy and that’s what I like about him; he is always willing to work!”

But with four left to go, it was Werth and DSP Qantaz who set the new standard when posting 85.671 for a performance that oozed class. The smile on her face showed that 31 years after she first won the prestigious FEI Dressage World Cup™ title, the 53-year-old athlete is enjoying herself as much as ever. The crowd adored her Bonnie Tyler themed musical score, bursting into wild applause as she drew to a halt. She was still laughing with delight herself after leaving the ring, knowing that she had nailed her tough floorplan.

“It was super and I was so happy! This was our best Freestyle together, and he was so with me that it was perfect! I really love this Freestyle – it is so difficult and there’s no time to breathe or to think about what is going on – I’m in one tunnel and each step has to come after the next and it worked really perfect today!” she said.


Then von Bredow-Werndl took the floor, and with mesmerising piaffe/passage and half-passes in both trot and canter that seem even more fluent than ever before, they soared out in front when putting a massive 90.482 on the board.

“She was incredible; she went in with no wet hair (sweat) because I didn’t do a lot outside, but she was so wet because of the atmosphere. It was really hot in there and she again was a little bit scared, but she trusted me 100%; that was the difference tonight. I was confident and we were mirroring each other; she was confident and I got confident. She was excited but she trusted me from the very first step,” the delighted 37-year-old rider said.

America’s Steffen Peters, series champion in Las Vegas (USA) back in 2009, was second-last to go and, always a crowd-pleaser and especially on home ground, he slotted in behind Werth with a mark of 83.921. Now only Skodborg Merrald and Blue Hors Zepter were left to run, and it seemed the top two places were already decided, but the Danish duo were having none of that.

There’s something very special about the relationship these two have established in a very short time. The chestnut gelding, formerly ridden by both her Danish counterpart Daniel Bachmann Andersen and Sweden’s Patrik Kittel, is blossoming like never before, even though he is already 15 years old.

On fire

“He was really on fire. I had to be so careful all the way around; it was a bit difficult to come back after extended canter, but I’m so thrilled! My journey with him has been so short; we have only been together for four months and I have the feeling I can ask for so much more – he is amazing!” she said after posting 87.146, which put her onto the second step of the podium.

She sees even greater potential in the year ahead. “To score higher, I need to get to know him better, but for now I just need to take it easy and be happy with the way it is, and I think it will come slowly. The judges have to get to know him also,” said the 29-year-old athlete who, with Zepter’s sire Blue Hors Zack, was a member of the Danish team that made history with victory at last summer’s FEI Dressage European Championship on home soil in Herning (DEN).

“He gives such an amazing feeling; he wants to do so much. Already in the warm-up, I could feel it and I wondered if I should have worked him more in the morning, because we only did walking,” she explained.

“But I just had to work with him and make him comfortable and get him to listen to me, and he gives such a good feeling. The only thing I want to change now is the music, because I think the theme is a bit weird – ‘Time to say goodbye’. It is lovely music and it fits him perfectly, but the theme could be a little happier so I will change that!” she said with conviction.


New double-champion, von Bredow-Werndl, won’t be changing her French-themed Freestyle music anytime soon, and insisted that it is “just a nice coincidence” that she has adopted it ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“I always loved (French singer) Édith Piaf… this music gives me goosebumps, especially on the last centreline,” she said.

Talking about her return to the sport just a couple of months after giving birth to her second child, daughter Ella Marie, who arrived last August during the FEI World Championship, she said, “It’s just a passion to get back in the saddle as soon as possible, because I just love what I do and so do my horses, and they made it pretty easy for me to come back that fast!”

Her second win puts Germany on level pegging with The Netherlands with 13 wins each in this series, which in 2023 celebrates its 36th anniversary. She has a long way to go to catch up with compatriot Werth, who has five wins under her belt, or Dutch superstar Anky van Grunsven, who recorded a phenomenal nine victories during her amazing career. But with Dalera, she is out on her own right now.

“Dalera is such a special creature to have in my life. She makes everything possible – she is a dream!” said the newly crowned 2023 FEI Dressage World Cup™ champion.


by Louise Parkes


Germany Steals the Show

Kathrin Meyer (GER) with San Classico S – FEI/Richard Juilliart.

As the curtains opened on the Burlington Capital FEI Vaulting World Cup Final™, the athletes took to the competition circle for the first time in Omaha. With excitement levels high, the German athletes kept their cool and took the top spot in all three events.

The home nation’s hopes were on Kimberly Palmer as she entered with Christoph Lensing and Romeo. Her new technical routine didn’t quite hit the mark with the judges, leaving her in 4th place in the overnight standings, 7.489. Hungarian Blanka Nemeth had an excellent start. She opened the show with Lunar Eclipse and Kimberly Wellman and showed her worth sitting in third, 7.554.

The young Swiss star Danielle Bürgi packed her Technical Test full of difficult sequences and creative transitions, which, combined with a top score from Best Brew and Andrea Selch, has her comfortably in second place (8.092). However, Kathrin Meyer saved the best until last in the Female competition. Entering the arena with San Classico S and her Mum Sonja Meyer, she floated through her test with elegance, grace, and beauty, earning an 8.299 from the judges.

“It’s amazing; the lights create a different atmosphere than on normal competition, and also the audience is great and I am really happy to be here,” said Meyer.

Averill Saunders struggled to make some of her sequences flow on top of Max, lunged by Sarah Krauss (6.388), and was left disappointed with her debut World Cup round. There will be plenty more to come from the young Canadian in the future.

In the Men’s competition, all eyes were glued to the circle as Sam dos Santos entered. At only sixteen, there is a bright future for the Dutch star. He earned second place (7.952) and captivated the audience aboard Max with Sarah Krauss. Andrin Müller (SUI) proved he too had made a successful partnership with Max and Sarah, but sits some way behind in third on 7.176.

No one came close to Germany’s Jannik Heiland, who took the lead and can sleep well with a 0.484-point lead over his closest competition. He made the decision, after arriving in Omaha, to compete on San Classico S with Sonja Meyer, and had only sat on the horse a few times before. He proved he is worthy of the title of Champion, but we must wait to see if he can win it.

The backward stand proved tricky for many of the individual competitors, but none so much as Daniel Janes. He was 90 per cent through a well-executed Technical Test when he prematurely dismounted, costing him heavily (6.081).

The atmosphere and anticipation grew in the CHI Health Center as we moved to the Pas de Deux competition. Austrian pair Romana Hintner and Eva Nagiller set the score to beat (7.657). Their horse Killian and lunger Mary McCormick have so far proved a solid combination. The Danish pair came next, Freja Linde and Maria Thinggaard Sorensen, along with Lunar Eclipse and Kimberly Wellman. They performed a clean routine for the judges, but were only rewarded with 7.267 points.

As the competition heated up, the first of the German combinations entered. Presenting a new concept, Diana Harwardt and Peter Künne danced their way through their Freestyle until DSP Sir LauLau noticed Diana had lost her arm number and decided to stop, as it was in his way. The pair were unable to counteract the movement and Diana took a tumble from quite a height. Fortunately, they were all OK and the score took the worst impact, leaving them in fourth place on 7.236. After a dramatic end to the previous test, there was some tension as the final German pair entered.

Justin van Gerven and Chiara Congia had made the decision earlier in the day to change from their planned horse, Highlight FRH, to Max, after Highlight didn’t seem 100% in the morning. They are World Champions for a reason.

With Alexandra Knauf on the lunge, the duo stunned the audience as they stuck every single move. They rightfully stole the lead and are heading for the title on Saturday scoring 8.370.

After the round, van Gerven said, “It was tough; we had to work on the horse, but I think we all did a good job; the horse and the lunger and we are happy.”


by Joanne Eccles


Vogel Wins, but Schou and Schwizer Share the Lead Going into Final Day

Richard Vogel (GER) and United Touch S – Copyright ©FEI/Richard Juilliart

On a night of sensational sport, Germany’s Richard Vogel steered the brilliant stallion United Touch S to win the second leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023 in Omaha (USA). But it is Denmark’s Andreas Schou (Darc de Lux) and Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer (Vancouver de Lanlore) who share the lead going into Saturday’s third and deciding competition.

The top three in the opening Speed class all lost their grip, but overnight leader and world number one, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (King Edward), only slipped to third with a single fence down. However, Britain’s Scott Brash (Hello Jefferson) plummeted from second to equal-ninth when leaving three on the floor, while Germany’s Daniel Deusser (Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z) retired and is now completely out of contention.

With points from both the Speed leg and the Jump-Off now converted into penalties, there is less than a fence between the top six going into the top-30 last-day test.

Schou and Schwizer are out in front on a zero score and von Eckermann will carry just one penalty point, while 26-year-old Vogel will start with two on the board and Brazil’s Yuri Mansur and the USA’s Hunter Holloway will start with three penalties already on their scorecard.

The result is far from decided because time faults or a fence down on Saturday can change everything.

The key

Only nine of the 39 starters found the key to another superb 14-fence first-round course set by Portugal’s Bernardo Costa Cabral. Regardless of experience this was a track that tested every single rider, and while the oxer at fence 10 proved particularly influential. there were poles on the ground all the way to the very last.

First into the jump-off, flying Frenchman Julien Epaillard left the door wide open with two down with Donatello d’Auge, but Norway’s Victoria Gulliksen followed with a cracking clear from her beloved Papa Roach in 38.71 to take the early lead.

Then America’s Devin Ryan and Eddie Blue, runners-up at the 2018 Final in Paris, hit the very last fence before Harry Charles forged a new lead with Balou du Reventon that stopped the clock in 35.25 seconds.

The British rider’s advantage was short-lived when Vogel’s big-striding horse galloped through the finish in 35.11 seconds with apparent ease. Although Schou (35.58 seconds) and last-to-go Schwizer (36.18 seconds) left all the timber intact, they had to settle for third and fourth places, respectively, while Vogel reigned supreme ahead of Charles.


Talking about his win, Vogel, whose recent form has seen him rise 23 places in the world rankings in the last month, said, “It’s our first World Cup Final, so we are delighted with how it has gone so far. Obviously, we will try to do our best on the final day, but we are already very happy!”

Runner-up Charles, who is highest ranked U25 rider and number 15 in the latest world rankings, was also more than pleased. He’s clearly thrilled to be partnering the brilliant Balou du Reventon who only joined his string last December.

“He’s not really a horse, he’s a Pegasus! For sure he’s the best horse I’ve ever ridden and even at 17 years old, he is still one of the best horses in the world. I’ve been watching him since I was growing up and it’s an honour and a privilege to be sat on him. I love every minute of every time I get to go in the ring with him!” he said proudly.

He described the course as “fantastic… I didn’t think it was too big but it rode really difficult and we got a great result. A lot of good guys from yesterday didn’t quite have the result they wanted today which was good for me! So it has made it a really exciting competition.”

Handsome stallion

Third-placed Schou also had plenty of nice things to say about his handsome stallion Darc de Lux, who has helped place him in the joint lead going into the final day.

“Yesterday we managed to stay near the top, and today he came out like he did all the indoor season and fought for me all the way around and gave me the clear round that was needed.” When the penultimate vertical came up very deep, the 12-year-old horse didn’t hesitate to oblige.

“That was all credit on him. I deserved to have a mistake in that turn. I had seen Richard’s round and I knew I had to give it all, and when I put so much pressure on him the canter gets difficult to handle. When I turned, the distance wasn’t there and I had to add one (stride), but he’s such a sharp and clever horse that he managed.”

When asked if he was surprised to find himself in the joint lead, he replied, “I think I have to say yes! But when you see his (Darc de Lux’s) record all indoor season, he jumped six World Cups and ’s-Hertogenbosch (NED) and Geneva (SUI) and he’s been clear in most or maximum one down. He’s such a consistent, clever, and careful horse, so he actually deserves to be there because he is actually one of the best!”

Full results

by Louise Parkes


Education, Culture, and Equestrian Sport Converge at FEI World Cup Finals for Omaha’s Youth

Young fans at the FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha (USA) in 2017 – Photo Credit: AJ Olnes.

More than 80 of the world’s top athletes from the disciplines of Jumping, Dressage, and Vaulting will congregate at the CHI Health Center Omaha in Nebraska (USA) for the FEI World Cup™ Finals, where, over the course of five days, they will compete for the ultimate honour of becoming FEI World Cup Champion in their respective disciplines – a title steeped in history – in front of an enthusiastic crowd and global media from around the world.

But for the more than 1,000 elementary school students bound for the event through the Omaha Equestrian Foundation’s (OEF) field trip programme, the event might mark the first time several children ever get to lay eyes on a sport horse.

Thirty-eight schools and homeschool programmes will visit the Finals with a mostly academic objective — and a bit of homework.

OEF has partnered with Prairie Stem to create STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) kits for students to create prior to attending the Finals. Based out of Omaha, Prairie Stem is an education-based non-profit organisation that seeks to improve critical thinking and creativity in students, from Pre-Kindergarteners to high school seniors.

The World Cup-themed STEAM Kits challenge students to create their own working horse carousel in one of four designs: Dressage, Jumping, Vaulting, and Lakota painted horse — a nod to Omaha’s cultural history.

The Lakota, a Native American people, were among Nebraska’s earliest settlers, and Lakota is a dialect of the indigenous language, Sioux. “Omaha” means “to go against the current” in Sioux, a nod to the Omaha tribe’s journey to the Nebraska territory. The Omaha Tribe of Nebraska thrived through the 1700s and were known for their hunting and farming. Today, the Omaha reservation located in Macy, NE is home to about 3,000 residents.

Among the field trip exhibits for visiting students will reference Omaha’s Native American roots, from a full-size fiberglass horse (to demonstrate Lakota symbology), Native American tribal artifacts, and live and visual storytellers.

They will also be exposed to equestrian sport and horsemanship. Students will get hands on with grooming and receive an introduction to horse care, go on a virtual ride using Virtual Reality headsets, and explore a variety of equine and agricultural career paths.

“We feel that a very important part of running such historically important events such as the FEI World Cup Finals is to inspire and educate the next generation of equestrian athletes and horse lovers,” said Julie Boilesen, CEO of Equestrian Omaha. “The equine legacy in Omaha is deep-rooted in our culture and history, so we are proud to honour our equine athletes by introducing our youth to them in this way.”

The legacy continues for Omaha after hosting the FEI World Cup Finals™ back in 2017, and they are providing the kids with undoubtedly one of the more unique types of classroom, as the young students will be learning in the arena and schooling area from some of the best equestrian athletes in the world.  As they experience horsemanship and our majestic equine athletes up close and personal – valuable lessons that will stay with them for a long time to come.

Perhaps it will mark the start of an equestrian pursuit for a few young, stargazing students.

The 2023 FEI World Cup™ Finals is set for 4-8 April 2023 in Omaha. To learn more, visit https://omaha2023.fei.org/.

By Catie Staszak


Countdown to the XXXIII Olympiad, Paris

Laura Collet (GBR) with London 52 at the FEI Eventing World Championships 2022 © FEI/Christophe Taniére.

The 2024 Paris Olympic Games will host equestrian sports 27 July through 6 August at the iconic Palace of Versailles. For athletes in the Olympic disciplines of Dressage, Eventing, and Jumping, the biggest objective on the road to Paris remains qualification. Some key nations — including host nation France — have secured their quota places, with these National Federations focused on team appointment. Others, meanwhile, are set on fielding their best teams for remaining events with qualification opportunities.


Including the host nation, seven nations have qualified for Dressage competition in Paris, accounting for 24 of 45 available team quota places (3 athletes per team). This group includes all three medalists from Tokyo 2020 (JPN). Defending champions Germany, the United States, and Great Britain all earned their places from their results at the 2022 FEI World Championships in Herning (DEN) — as did Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands, and Australia.

All eyes will be on Germany on the road to Paris, as not only did they top the team competition in the last Olympics, but its athletes Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and Isabell Werth also claimed the individual gold and silver medals, respectively. Bredow-Werndl remains at the top of her game and sits atop the FEI Dressage World Rankings with her partner from Tokyo, TSF Dalera BB.

Twenty-one team quota places (accounting for seven teams) remain, many of which will be decided at the year’s continental and regional championships. Most notable will be the 2023 FEI European Dressage Championship, set for Riesenbeck (GER), 4-10 September. Fifteen individual quota places are also available, awarded to athletes from nations that have not already accepted a team quota place. Of course, these athletes will be a mix of males and females, as equestrian sport remains the only Olympic event in which men and women compete as equals.


Nearly half of the team quotas places have already been secured in the sport of Eventing.  Germany is among the first nations qualified, which should provide some excitement. After all, the nation produced Eventing’s first ever female individual Olympic gold medalist in Julia Krajewski in Tokyo. In addition to the host nation, the United States, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, and Switzerland have also qualified. These places were all earned at the FEI World Championships in Herning, where the United States secured its first team medal at a World or Olympic Championship since 2004. The United States is the only nation from North, Central, or South America to have secured a team quota place.

Most notably, Tokyo’s silver medalists Australia have yet to secure their place. They have remaining opportunities at the Group F and G FEI Designated Olympic Qualification Event at Millstreet (IRL), 01-04 June and the FEI Eventing European Championships 2023 in Haras du Pin (FRA) and via the 2023 FEI Eventing Nations Cup Series.

The competition for ranking points for the Individual slots has started, and will continue through the rest of the year.


Jumping offers the most quota places of all the equestrian disciplines, with 75 up for grabs, including 60 team athletes.

Sweden is undisputedly the team to watch on the road to Paris, having claimed team gold medals at both the Tokyo Olympic Games and the FEI World Championships 2022. Safely qualified, their concern will be trying to replace Peder Fredricson’s incredible All In, who earned a most celebratory retirement in February. “Allan,” as the barefoot bay was affectionately called, won six championship medals in his career. In Tokyo, he became just the second horse in history to jump the entire Olympic Games without having a single rail.

The Netherlands, Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany also secured their places in Herning, while Belgium earned its spot at the FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2022 in Barcelona (ESP). Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates secured team quota places at their Group F Designated Olympic Qualification Event, but 33 team quota places remain.

The United States earned the silver medal in Tokyo, but they will rely on the 2023 Pan American Games to qualify for Paris. Among the powerhouses of the sport, the U.S. won back-to-back team gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Games and has medalled at seven of the last 10 Olympics, but the pressure will be on in Chile for them to add to that Olympic resume. If they do not qualify at the Pan Ams, they would have one last opportunity at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2023 In Barcelona.

The 2023 FEI European Championship in Milano (ITA), 29 August – 03 Sept. will also offer three team quotas for European nations from Group A and/or B. Fifteen additional individual quotas are also available for athletes from nations that have not already accepted a team quota place.

By Catie Staszak


Team Belgium Are Decisive Winners at Opening Leg of FEI Eventing Nations Cup

From left: Team Italy in second place – Chef D’Equipe Giacomo Della Chiesa, Matteo Orlandi, Fosco Girardi, and Evelina Bertoli; Team winners Belgium – Jarno Verwimp, Karin Donckers, Lara De Liedekerke Meier, Senne Vervaecke, and Chef D’Equipe Kai-Steffen Meier; Third place Switzerland – Felix Vogg, Roxane Gonfard, and Chef D’Equipe Dominik Burger. Copyright ©FEI / Massimo Argenziano.

It was a clean sweep for Team Belgium who claimed the first leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ held in Montelibretti (ITA). With consistent three phase performances by all four of their riders, they finished on a score of 93.7 penalties. The home nation Italy lagged some way behind in second on a score of 152.3, whilst Switzerland finished third on 192.1.

Three of the four Belgian riders finished inside the top ten which gave them a healthy lead with almost a 60 point margin over Italy. Jarno Verwimp put in an exemplary display in all three phases with her Belgian bred mare Mahalia, and a double clear with just 1.2 cross-country time penalties left the athlete on a final score of 26.9, good enough for a second position in the individual ranking, just a whisker behind Austrian athlete Lea Siegl, who finished on 24.9 for Austria. Belgian teammate Lara De Liedekerke Meier was fourth on Ducati D’Arville, whilst eventing stalwart Karin Donckers finished eight on Fletcha Van’t Verahof.

Both the jumping phases proved challenging to a number of combinations and shook up the leader board after both phases. The cross-country phase proved particularly influential with eight combinations eliminated or retiring and a further seven finishing jumping penalties. No combinations finished within the time allowed.

Riders and nations have just one season left to qualify for the Paris Olympics held next year and the Belgians are yet to qualify. Whilst they will have a chance at the European Championships held in Le Pin au Haras (FRA) later this year, the Nations Cup Series provides an opportunity for teams and individuals to gain qualification through the FEI points allocation system. The nations qualified for Paris so far are host nation France, Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA.

The FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ Series now moves to the prestigious venue of Chatsworth in Great Britain, which runs from 13-14 May.


by Eleanore Kelly