The Longines FEI World Cup Jumping final kicks off this evening, with a stellar line-up making for a thrilling competition.
Hot favourite to watch
A total of 37 riders from 20 countries will compete in the final, including Olympic, World Cup, European and World Champions. Notable by their absence are the British contingent as we failed to qualify.
Scott Brash was first reserve for Britain, but needed one rider to drop out in order to compete. Denis Lynch is riding for Ireland – he earned the majority of his qualifications on his top horse All Star 5 and is ranked third in the Western European League (WEL).
The hot favourite is Steve Guerdat, who is chasing his third consecutive World Cup title. This year the Swiss rider will be riding his 11-year-old bay mare, Bianca. Can Steve match Rodrigo Pessoa’s record and achieve a third consecutive title?
Other riders to watch are Italy’s Lorenzo De Luca, who is in second place in the WEL, and Olympic veteran Kevin Staut who is at the top of the leaderboard. Kevin was part of France’s gold medal winning team at the 2016 Olympics and has competed at seven World Cup Finals.
Leading the East rankings is Kent Farrington, who was part of the US bronze medal winning team in Rio and is currently ranked number two in the world. He won qualifiers at both the American Gold Cup in New York and the National Horse Show in Kentucky, so has a real advantage competing on home soil for the final. Just behind him in the league is Olympic gold medalist Laura Kraut.
Fellow US rider McLain Ward is competing in his 17th FEI World Cup Final. He has come close on a number of occasions and if experience counts, the double-gold Olympic medallist has to be in the running.
21 World Cups
Another rider who has been around the block more than a few times, is the legendary Ludger Beerbaum, who will be representing Germany in the final for the 21st time. That’s right, 21! Ludger is ranked fourth on the WEL rankings and has qualified both Chiara 222 and Casello, with whom he won team bronze in Rio.
Compatriot Marcus Ehning has three FEI World Cup titles to his name (2003, 2006, 2010), and could make history in Omaha as the first rider to win a fourth title.
Everything is to play for, but as always in showjumping anything could happen. The full list of riders and horses competing is available here.
You can catch highlights from the World Cup Final right here on H&C. FEI World Cup Jumping: Final is on Saturday 8 April at 9pm on Sky 253, or you can watch online by subscribing to H&C Play.