With just one leg left to go in North America next week, the FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2022/2023 series is already celebrating another bumper season of super sport across five continents.
Horse-and-rider combinations from Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe and the Americas have risen to the challenge, competing in 12 different Leagues around the globe. Not all have had the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023 in their sights, but for every League winner their victory is something to be savoured.
A total of 723 athletes competed in total, and the smallest League was in South East Asia where just eight lined out and seven picked up points. All three events were staged in Indonesia and all the competitors were from the host nation, with 27-year-old Marcho Alexandro coming out on top with the 15-year-old mare Chico’s Lady 3 ahead of compatriot Ferry Wahyu Hadiyanto, winner of the first leg in Jakarta partnering Cascadella de Revel G.
There were 17 contestants in the New Zealand League which produced a very special result when 51-year-old Phillip Steiner won through with his 10-year-old mare Cassina Dior to book his spot at the Final for the very first time.
The experienced athlete lined out in all five legs of the series at Hastings, Cambridge, Taupo, Dannevirke and Hawera, amassing 80 points to pin Sophie Scott into runner-up spot and Brooke Edgecombe into third. Phillip’s wife, Sally, won this League more than 20 years ago but didn’t travel to the final. However this time the whole family intend to be there.
Also making the long trip from the southern hemisphere is Samuel Overton with his 15-year-old gelding Oaks Cassanova, winners of the Australian League. The 51-year-old rider competed in all six legs collecting 79 points which left him five points ahead of his nearest rival, Olivia Hamood, and well clear of Aaron Hadlow in third.
Kenki Sato won the Japan League, counting results from four of the seven legs including events in Kakegawa-Tsumagoi, Fuji and Osaka. The 38-year-old who competed at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2010 in Kentucky (USA) and who won double-gold at the Asian Games in Guangzhou (CHN) that same year finished four points clear of League runner-up Tatsuya Kusanagi while Yoshinori Suzuki slotted into third. A total of 29 athletes competed in this League.
Nicola Sime topped the South African League this season, pinning Rainer Korber into second place and Lisa Williams into third. Sime, who is based at Sunny Park Stables on the East Rand of Gauteng, was awarded the South African Colours for her coaching skills in 2018 and the 45-year-old athlete is also a successful horse-breeder. Her League victory was clinched by a series of great performances including a win at the second leg in Brits and runner-up placings at the qualifiers at Midrand and Kromdraai partnering the 15-year-old BWP stallion Insaghi DB. From her base at Sunny Park, Sime runs a Development Programme which provides underprivileged riders with the opportunity to compete.
The Eurasian League attracted 47 competitors, and Uzbekistan claimed all of the top-three places. Nurjon Tuyakbaev competed at the first two legs in Tashkent Viloyat (UZB) and Bishkek (KGZ) and with 24 points the 35-year-old athlete won the League and pinned compatriots Umad Kamilov and Bekzod Kurbanov into second and third places. Tuyakbaev produced his leading score with two horses, the 10-year-old Westphalian mare Lancelotta and the 13-year-old Holsteiner mare Camita DKG.
The Arab League consists of two Sub-Leagues and it was the UAE’s Moufi Owaida Al Karbi who topped the Middle East Sub-League while Morocco’s Majid Djaidi headed the North African Sub-League.
With top points at both the first and last of the seven legs, in both Abu Dhabi and Sharjah (UAE), Al Karbi was clear winner of the Middle East series, Syria’s Ahmad Saber Hamcho finishing second and UAE’s Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi in third. Saudi Arabia’s Abdulrahman Alrajhi finished four and Shk. Ali Jmal Nasr Al Nuami from UAE finished fifth, and the latter pair will join Al Karbi to fill the three places from this Sub-League at the Final.
Meanwhile just two points separated Djaidi from his nearest rival and fellow-countryman Abdelkebir Ouaddar at the top of the North African standings, and both are also now confirmed for the Final.
Central Europe is also divided into two Sub-Leagues, North and South, and a total of 130 athletes competed this season ahead of the League Final staged in Krakow (POL) last weekend where Lithuania’s Andrius Petrovas reigned supreme.
Petrovas was thoroughly consistent on his way to winning the Northern Sub-League ahead of Estonia’s Paul-Richard Argus in second and fellow-Lithuanian Nerijus Sipaila.
In the Southern Sub-League it was Romania’s Damian Cojocariu who came out on top while Angelos Touloupis from Greece finished second and Hungary’s Gyulia Szuhai finished third. But the League Final turned into a battle between Petrovas and fellow-countryman Donatas Janciauskas who had finished fourth in the Northern Sub-League, Petrovas winning out by just a single point for the Central European League title.
Petrovas is a veteran of the 2014 and 2022 FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals, and it was with his top ride, the 16-year-old Latvian-bred gelding Linkolns which he also competed at last summer’s World Championships in Herning (DEN) that he booked his ticket to the 2023 Longines Final in Omaha (USA) where Janciauskas will also compete. Poland’s Jaroslaw Skrzyczynski was in flying form in Krakow where he finished third and also earned a ticket to the Final. However he has opted not to travel.
The Western European League is by far the largest, and world number one, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann, topped the League table at the end of the exciting 14-leg series.
Partnering the extraordinary 13-year-old BWP gelding King Edward who carried him to team gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and double-gold at last summer’s ECCO FEI World Championship in Denmark, the 41-year-old athlete is already signed up for Omaha where he will be joined by 18 others from the Western European series including Brazil’s Yuri Mansur who has earned his place as an extra athlete.
Super-speedy Frenchman, Julien Epaillard, finished second on the League table while 2014 champion Daniel Deusser from Germany finished third, and the confirmed list shows Germany with the highest number of entries from this League with five in total while the three representative from Switzerland include defending champion Martin Fuchs.
There will be no representation from the South American South League which was won by 45-year-old Geronimo Marcello Viana Ciavaglia, a member of last year’s gold-medal-winning Brazilian team at the South American Games in Paraguay. Five-time Olympian Doda de Miranda finished second ahead of Stephan de Freitas Barcha in third, and it was the 15-year-old Brazilian-bred mare GR Garuda who carried Viana Ciavaglia to success throughout the season.
The North American qualifying series comes to a close in Ocala, Florida (USA) on 19 March, and with seven places on offer to East Coast athletes, three for those competing in the West Coast series and two spots up for grabs for both Canadian and Mexican riders there is still some work to be done.
Ireland’s Daniel Coyle and Conor Swail and Israel’s Daniel Bluman look untouchable at the top of the leaderboard and should make the cut as extra athletes along with Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa who currently lies sixth. And McLain Ward, who set the arena alight when claiming his first precious Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ victory when the Final last visited Omaha in 2017, also has a qualifying slot clearly in his sights.
But there is still jumping to be done before the line-up for the 43rd Final of the prestigious series is finally decided.
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All the information about the FEI Jumping World Cup 2022-2023 available here
PHOTO Caption: Nicola Sime (RSA) riding with Sunny Park Stables Insaghi DB at the President’s Cup / © Hilary O'Leary