Von Eckermann and King Edward chase back-to-back titles

Media updates
09 April 2024 Author: Louise Parkes

Dethroning the defending champions will be no easy task when the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2024 gets underway in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia next week. 

Henrik von Eckermann and his mighty chestnut gelding King Edward wrote a page of equestrian history when becoming the first-ever Swedish winners of the coveted title in Omaha, USA 12 months ago. And the pair whose resume also includes team gold and individual fourth place at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021 and double-gold at the FEI Jumping World Championship in Herning, Denmark in 2022 before claiming the coveted World Cup title in 2023 continue to ride the crest of an incredible wave that has left the Swedish athlete top of the world rankings for 21 consecutive months.

44th Final

Riyadh, the capital city of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, presents the 44th Final, and this is the first time for the event to be staged in the Middle East. With the biggest prizefund ever of €2.6m up for grabs there’s a whole lot to play for when the action gets underway, including the prestige of joining the Roll of Honour that lists so many of the true stars of this sport down the years.

From 1979 when Austria’s Hugo Simon and Gladstone first held the trophy aloft at the inaugural Final in Gothenburg, Sweden through the heady years of back-to-back champions Ian Millar and Big Ben from Canada in 1988 and 1989 and John Whitaker and the much-adored Milton who had to settle for runner-up spot in 1989 but then came back to steal the limelight for Great Britain in 1990 and 1991 this has been the title-of-titles for Jumping athletes.

There have been five three-time champions, and the most remarkable of these was Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa who, along with the great stallion Baloubet du Rouet, won three times in succession between 1998 and 2000. Adding an extra edge to this year’s Final is the fact that two of the other three-time champions are coming back in a bid to become the first four-time winner.

Extraordinary record

One of these is Germany’s Marcus Ehning who has an extraordinary record in the series. 

Riyadh will be his twenty-first Final, his first dating back to 2001 in Gothenburg where he finished 31st with For Pleasure. Two years later, in Las Vegas, USA in 2003, he won his first title with Anka, pinning Pessoa and Baloubet du Rouet into second place. He came out on top again in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur in 2006 riding Sandro Boy, this time pipping Ireland’s Jessica Kürten and Castle Forbes Libertina. And in Geneva, Switzerland in 2010 he rode both Noltes Küchengirl and Plot Blue to victory ahead of German compatriot Ludger Beerbaum and Gotha FRH in second place. 

This time around the three-time European team gold medallist, who will celebrate his 50th birthday next week, brings the 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding Coolio 42, with which he won the sixth leg of the Western European League qualifying series last November, and it would be foolish to under-estimate his chances of becoming that first four-time FEI Jumping World Cup™ champion.


Also chasing that goal will be 2012 Olympic individual champion and reigning individual European champion, 41-year-old Steve Guerdat who is another veteran World Cup finalist. Currently third in the world rankings he missed out on Omaha last April for the first time in many years, but next week will be his fifteenth Final. 

He picked up his first title with Albfuehren’s Paille in Las Vegas, USA in 2015 and made it a double the following year in Gothenburg partnering Corbinian. It became a hat-trick when he steered Alamo to victory in Gothenburg in 2019 but, just as impressively, he also finished third once with Tresor in 2007, was twice second with the great Nino des Buissonnets in 2013 and 2014 and only twice finished outside the top ten during all that time. 

It’s an incredible record, and with the 11-year-old grey mare Is-Minka with which he won the 13th of the 14 legs of the Western European League qualifying series in Bordeaux, France in February, he too will present serious opposition to the remaining 34 athletes representing 19 countries across the globe.

Another two previous winners will line out at the 2024 Final. Germany’s Christian Ahlmann reigned supreme on home ground in Leipzig partnering Taloubet Z in 2011 and he will bring the 12-year-old gelding Mandato van de Neerheide with which he won leg nine of the Western European League this season. 

And Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs, currently ranked fourth in the world, who came out on top in the same city in 2022 partnering both The Sinner and Chaplin will bring the 11-year-old gelding Commissar Pezi who lined out five times in the Western European League this season, finishing second at round 11 in Leipzig in January. 


But the opposition will be fierce with all of the top six in the current rankings competing next week alongside a plethora of aspiring and up-and-coming talent.

World number two and reigning Olympic champion, Great Britain’s Ben Maher, brings the 11-year-old mare Dallas Vegas Batilly with which he finished third at round three of the Western European League in Lyon, France at the beginning of November before winning a week later in Verona, Italy. The flying Frenchman Julien Epaillard who took individual bronze at last summer’s FEI European Championship in Milan, Italy is ranked fifth and brings the 11-year-old mare Dubai du Cedre who finished a very close second in the hotly-contested 14-horse jump-off in Lyon, while sixth-ranked rider, America’s Kent Farrington, will compete double-handed with the 10-year-old mares Greya and Toulayna. 

The host nation will be represented by 2012 Olympic team bronze medallist Ramzy Al Duhami partnering Untouchable 32, Khaled Almobty with both Jaguar King WD and Spacecake and Abdullah Alsharbatly who was also a member of that bronze medal team in London in 2012 and who will be partnering Guerdat’s 2019 winning ride Alamo along with Fiumicino van de Kalevallei.

Course designer for this week of superb sport will be German giant Frank Rothenberger whose reputation for big, bold tracks is second to none. So the stage is set for a mighty battle, and the action begins on Wednesday 17 April. Don’t miss a hoofbeat…..  

The Timetable: 

Final 1 - Wednesday 17 April at 19.05 local time

Final 2 - Thursday 18 April at 18.50 local time

Final 3 - Saturday 20 April at 15.45 local time

The Competition Format

Final 1 - Table C over a Table A course, 3 seconds added for a fence down, time limit 120 or 180 seconds depending on length of course, height 1.60m.

Final 2 - Table A, one round against the clock and one jump-off against the clock, height 1.60m.

Final 3 - Table A, two rounds not against the clock, no jump-off, height 1.60m.

In the event of a tie after the first three competitions there will be a jump-off to decide the final classification.