Stay updated with all the latest stories, news and FEI events across the globe.
2017 was a jam-packed year for Jumping fans all across the world. Despite no Olympic Games, followers could look forward to the Longines FEI European Jumping Championships, Longines FEI Nations Cup™️ Jumping Final, Longines FEI World Cup™️ Jumping Final and more qualifiers than you can shake a stick at.
Spanish rider Eduardo Alvarez Aznar got the year off to a flying start when he took top points in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Qualifier in Zurich, beating out Austrian Max Kuhner. Even so, it was Kevin Staut, Lorenzo De Luca and Denis Lynch heading up the Western European standings in the run up to the Longines FEI World Cup™ Finals in Omaha, Nebraska.
The FEI Nations Cup™ was back with a bang in February, with not one but two qualifiers in Ocala, USA and Al Ain, UAE. That wasn’t the only big FEI competition though, with Henrik Von Eckermann sending the Swedish crowd wild with a win on home soil in the last Longines FEI World Cup™ Qualifier in Gothenburg. It was obviously a month for home wins, as Julien Epaillard beat 18 other riders to come out top in the jump off for the FEI World Cup Qualifier™ in Bordeaux earlier in the month.
The Longines FEI World Cup™ Finals got off to a terrific start in Omaha as 37 riders from 20 different countries all arrived with hopes of coming home with a title to their names. All eyes were on Steve Guerdat, who had won in 2015 and 2016 and was looking to defend his title and make the history books with three wins in a row. But it was McLain Ward, Henrik von Eckermann and Kevin Staut who were in the top three after the first day.
The last day of the World Cup finals saw American Ward clinch first place on his wonderful mare HH Azur. One of the only titles to have eluded Ward thus far, he was competing at his 18th World Cup. This year he was determined to set that straight. Ward and HH Azur were on top form and it was clear he really meant business from the start – in fact, Ward was the model of consistency and didn’t knock a single pole over the entire competition.
South Africa got in on the action with their first FEI World Cup™ Qualifier for the year being held and Samantha McIntosh coming out on top. It was a busy month for the FEI Nations Cup™ teams, with no less than seven qualifiers for the month. Germany and Ireland both picked up wins while Italy, France and Mexico stepped up to the plate for brilliant home wins in Rome, La Baule and Coapexpan respectively.
May was also a big month for Olympic winners Nick Skelton and Big Star, who retired from competition in an emotional ceremony at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
Denmark secured a historical win on home soil when hosting their first ever FEI Nations Cup™ Qualifier whilst Italy made their way to the top of the Europe Division 1 leaderboard, marking the start of a shake up in the top levels of Jumping. Move over Germany, Holland and the UK – there’s new kids on the block!
The first ever Brazilian team to compete at an FEI Nations Cup™ Qualifier at Hickstead in England did so with unbelievable style by winning the event. Truly British weather led to the course being relocated for the second round to secure better going for the horses, but the boys in green didn’t let it get to them, beating out The Netherlands, Switzerland and Ireland despite the wet, windy conditions.
The Longines FEI European Jumping Championships in Gothenburg were the talk of the town in August, with Europe’s top riders coming together to compete for team and individual glory. Sweden’s Peder Fredricson and H&M All In had a fairytale event to claim individual gold. Fredricson had been leading from the outset of the competition and jumped his fourth round on the final day without having accumulated a single fault over the entire duration of the Championships. Harrie Smolders finished second and Cian O’Connor was third.
On the team front, Ireland were the ones to beat the odds and claim the gold medal position, even after team rider Bertram Allen had to withdraw from the competition after a fall from his stallion the day before.
The Netherlands came out on top at the Longines FEI Nations Cup™️ Jumping Final in Barcelona at the start of the month. The Dutch riders put in an almost flawless performance finishing on just one single time fault. In second was the USA, followed by Belgium in third.
An enthusiastic home crowd was just what Frenchman Simon Delestre needed to clinch first place at the Longines FEI World Cup™ in Lyon, putting him into second place in the Western European League.
Lynch and RMF Echo showed what they’re made of in Lexington at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Qualifier by beating an incredible field, including the two highest-ranked riders on the leaderboard. He came home with a cool $250,000.
Epaillard ended off the year in style by becoming the first Frenchman to win London Olympia in over 30 years. The competition is really hotting up ahead of Paris 2018 as we head into the final few months with Guerdat, Von Eckermann, Staut, Alison Robitaille, Richard Spooner and Ward all hovering around the top of some of the most competitive leagues going.
Will Ward be able to defend his title, or will one of the Europeans swoop in and claim it for themselves? Watch live coverage of major Jumping events at FEI.tv.
Text by Sophie Baker