The magnificent setting of City Hall in Paris played host tonight to the draws for both the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping and FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2018 Finals. Guests were greeted by the arresting music of the world-famous band from La Guarde Republicaine (The Republican Guard) and the atmosphere was electric as defending champion, Isabell Werth from Germany, and French rider Ludovic Henry matched the starting numbers and names for Friday’s first leg of the Dressage finale. Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann was joined by Rio Olympic team gold medallist Roger Yves Bost from France to select the order-of-go for tomorrow night’s opening Jumping competition in which America’s McLain Ward will also begin the defence of his title with the brilliant mare HH Azur.
A total of 37 riders from 17 countries will battle it out over three days of Jumping, while 18 riders from 13 nations will contest the Dressage title. It’s going to be a battle of the giants in both disciplines and no quarter will be given, but Frenchman Henry, didn’t do his chances any harm when pulling out his own name as last to go in his opening event.
“It’s been our dream for many years to bring these Finals back to Paris”, said show organiser Sylvie Robert, “and now at last our dream has come true!”. Both the Jumping and Dressage Finals have taken place at the Parisian venue before, but never together, and only once. America’s Katharine Burdsall, riding The Natural, claimed the ninth Jumping title in the City of Lights all the way back in 1986, and Finland’s Kyra Kyrklund and Matador won the sixth FEI World Cup™ Dressage title in 1991. It is another American partnership, McLain Ward with his brilliant mare HH Azur, who will be defending the Jumping title.
With the riders and their horses ready to go, and fans pouring into the city with great anticipation the stage is set for a fantastic weekend of top sport.
FEI President, Ingmar de Vos, said “it’s an honour to be here in Paris, home of the Olympic Games in 1900 and 1924, and of course 2024, but also the home of so many other great sporting moments. The world’s best partnerships have fought hard to be here and they are ready to claim their piece of history!”
Starting order for Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 Final, competition 1 here
Facts and Figures:
Defending champion, America’s Mclain Ward, is chasing his second consecutive Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping title with the same mare, HH Azur, in Paris (FRA).
The first FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final took place in Gothenburg (SWE) in 1979 where Austria’s Hugo Simon came out on top with Gladstone. The Swedish city has hosted the FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final on 14 occasions, and the Final will return to Gothenburg in 2019.
A total of four riders have won the FEI World Cup™ Jumping title on three occasions: Hugo Simon (AUT), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Marcus Ehning (GER) and Rodrigo Pessoa from Brazil. Pessoa is the only rider to have won three back-to-back titles on the same horse, the stallion Baloubet du Rouet.
This week in Paris, Germany’s Marcus Ehning has the chance of becoming the first ever four-time champion.
Defending champion, Germany’s Isabell Werth, is going for her second consecutive FEI World Cup™ Dressage title and her fourth overall.
She recorded her first victory with Fabienne in 1992 in Gothenburg (SWE), her second in Las Vegas (USA) in 2007 with Warum Nicht and her third in Omaha (USA) in 2017 with Weihegold OLD who she partners once again this week in Paris.
The first FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final was held in ’s-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands in 1986 where Denmark’s Anne-Grethe Jensen and Marzog reigned supreme.
The most successful athlete in the history of FEI World Cup™ Dressage is The Netherlands’ Anky van Grunsven who posted a phenomenal nine victories over an extraordinary 13-year period between 1995 and 2008, a record unlikely ever to be challenged.
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About the FEI World Cup™ Finals
The FEI World Cup™ Dressage and Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 Finals bring together the world’s top horses and riders at the AccorHotels Arena, Paris (FRA). Qualified from leagues right across the globe, Olympic, World and European champions are amongst the representatives from 24 countries hoping to claim the prestigious titles in front of 60,000 fans.
Longines has been based at Saint-Imier (SUI) since 1832. Its watchmaking expertise reflects a strong devotion to Elegance, Tradition and Performance. It has generations of experience as the official timekeeper at world championships and as a partner of international sports federations. Longines’ passion for equestrian sports began in 1878, when a timepiece was made with a horse and jockey engraved on the watch face. Over the years, the brand has built strong and long-lasting links with equestrian sports. In 1912, for the first time, the brand was involved as timekeeper for a show jumping event in Portugal.
Today, Longines’ involvement in equestrian sports includes jumping, endurance and flat racing. Longines is a member of The Swatch Group S.A., the world’s leading manufacturer of horological products. With an excellent reputation for creating refined timepieces, the brand, whose emblem is the winged hourglass, has outlets in over 150 countries.
Source: Press Release by Louise Parkes for FEI – Fédération Equestre Internationale
Photo: © FEI Photos / Cara Grimshaw