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Europe’s best riders have confirmed their places at next month’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final as the equestrian world’s focus begins to turn to Paris.
With US star Mclain Ward already qualified as the reigning champion, the top 18 finishers in the Western European League - including Henrik von Eckermann, Kevin Staut, Michael Whitaker and Marcus Ehning - have all confirmed they will appear in the French capital.
Jumping fans can also make sure of their place at the majestic AccorHotels Arena from April 10-15 by clicking here.
Von Eckermann, who finished third in last year’s Final in Omaha, heads to France in form having won the final qualifier of the season in Gothenburg and leap-frogged Frenchman Staut to finish top of the WEL rankings.
"My season has been very successful and my horses have jumped very consistent. One of my targets was to qualify again for the World Cup Final and that we managed to do, so it has been a great season so far," von Eckermann told FEI.org.
Staut will be determined to impress in front of the home crowd, with only one French rider, Bruno Brouqsault in 2004, having won the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping trophy in its 40 years of existence.
“It’s about time I won it!” said Britain’s Michael Whitaker ahead of Paris, and he’s right, having come so very close during his previous 22 Finals.
Germany’s Ehning will be bidding to become the first-ever four-time champion. The wizard of warp-speed very nearly leaped to the top of the league leaderboard with by far the fastest jump-off round at the Swedish fixture, only to be denied by a late-falling pole, and is likely to put all the pressure on the rest when the Final gets underway with the opening speed competition in five weeks’ time.
Ehning’s German counterpart and the 2011 champion, Christian Ahlmann, has also easily made the cut, and a total of 10 Western European nations will be represented at this year’s Final. Edwina Tops-Alexander from Australia and Colombia’s Carlos Lopez have also confirmed their places in France.
Images by Manuel Queimadelos and Lotta Brundin Gyllensten