Oslo, Norway – October 10, 2022 – Next Sunday’s opening leg of the 2022/2023 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Western European League in Oslo (NOR) looks set to be a cracker with two former series champions and five of the top-10 riders in the world rankings, including the man in the number one slot, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (SWE), in the star-studded field.
The new season is a busy one, visiting 14 CSI5*-W fixtures in 11 countries between October 2022 and the end of February 2023. Oslo will be followed by Helsinki (FIN) and Lyon (FRA) later this month, and then it will be on to Verona (ITA), Stuttgart (GER) and Madrid (ESP) in November.
La Coruña (ESP) leads the way into the December action which will continue with the British leg at the London-ExCel arena, while the popular Belgian event in Mechelen will bring 2022 to a close.
There will be five qualifying rounds still to run when 2023 gets underway with a visit to Basel, St Jakobshalle (SUI) in early January swiftly followed by legs in Leipzig (GER) and Amsterdam (NED). The last two will take place in Bordeaux (FRA) and Gothenburg (SWE) in February by which time all eyes will be turning to Omaha (USA) where the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023 will take place from 4 to 8 April.
This will be the eleventh time for the Final to return to the USA since the inaugural finale in 1979, and the second time for it to be held in Omaha.
US riders have only taken the title twice on home soil – first when Conrad Homfeld won through with Balbuco at the second edition in Baltimore in 1980 and then in Omaha 37 years later where McLain Ward (USA) realised a long-held ambition when coming out on top with HH Azur in 2017.
However, America holds the record for most victories down the years with a total of 11 from the 42 editions, while Germany is next best with 10.
With the seven best results counting for each rider, and the top 18 earning a ticket to the 2023 Final, early points on the Western European League table are always an asset. But they won’t be going cheap this weekend because so many of the biggest names in the sport will be chasing down the maximum 20.
Since taking team gold and individual fourth place with King Edward at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, world number one Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) has been on fire. This summer the pair clinched double-gold at the ECCO FEI World Championships in Herning (DEN) and the 41-year-old rider arrives in Norway this week fresh from recent wins in Spruce Meadows (CAN) and New York (USA), so he is clearly still on top form.
However Dutchmen Harrie Smolders (ranked 4th) and Maikel van der Vleuten (8th), Brazil’s Marlon Zanotelli (7th) and French star Kevin Staut (10th) are also in the mix along with two members of the Belgian team that won the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ 2022 title just eight days ago – rising star Gilles Thomas (BEL) and veteran Gregory Wathelet (BEL).
The 2022 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final podium was an all-European affair headed up by Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs (SUI), and for the second time in his career Harrie Smolders finished second while Sweden’s Jens Fredricson finished third.
Currently ranked 99th, Jens Fredricson (SWE) is listed for Oslo with Markan Cosmopolit, the horse with which, alongside von Eckermann, he helped clinch that team gold for Sweden with brilliant performances at the World Championship this summer where the pair also finished individually tenth. This horse/athlete combination are always a force to be reckoned with.
Add in 2014 series champion Daniel Deusser (GER) and Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat (SUI), who has three FEI Jumping World Cup™ titles on his impressive resume and it’s clear that this opening round of the new season will be no walk-in-the-park.
Norway’s Geir Gulliksen (NOR) is back in the saddle after recovering from a fall that left him out of commission for several months, so the home side will also be coming out with all guns blazing when the action gets underway next Sunday at 15.30 local time.
So don’t miss a hoofbeat…..
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Source: Press Release by Louise Parkes for FEI – Fédération Equestre Internationale
Photo: © FEI / Richard Juilliart