The Longines FEI World Cup Show Jumping and FEI World Cup Dressage Finals return this week for the first time in three years, after being twice canceled due to COVID-19. The action begins Thursday, April 7, in Leipzig, Germany. Here’s everything you need to know to follow along.
Thirty-six riders will start in the show jumping final, and they have the option of bringing two horses, which can be swapped out before the final day of competition. Nine U.S. riders will attend this year, including 2017 winner McLain Ward with his 2021 Olympic team silver medal-winning horse Contagious. In addition, Misti Cassar (Mylord Cornet), Katie Dinan (Brego R’N B), Margie Engle (Dicas), Hunter Holloway (Pepita Con Spita), Schuyler Riley (Robin De Ponthual), Aaron Vale (Elusive), Kristen VanderVeen (Bull Run’s Prince Of Peace) and Alessandra Volpi (Berlinda) will be competing. This will be the first World Cup Final appearance for Holloway, Vale and Volpi.
Along with Ward, there are three other previous winners in the field, including defending champion Steve Guerdat of Switzerland, who has won three times. He’s riding Victorio Des Frotards. Germany’s Marcus Ehning also has three wins under his belt and is looking for a third with Calanda 42 or Stargold. If either Guerdat or Ehning win this year, they would become the first rider to win the World Cup finals four times.
The other former champion in the field is John Whitaker, who won back-to-back finals in 1990 and 1991 with his famous partner Milton. The 66-year-old hasn’t competed in a final since 2000, but he’s back this year with Equine America Unick Du Francport and will be representing Great Britain alongside his 20-year-old nephew Jack Whitaker and 22-year-old Harry Charles.
How World Cup Scoring Works
The show jumping is comprised of three days of competition, the first of which will be a speed class on April 7, run over a 1.60-meter course. The World Cup Final rules read: “It is not intended that this course should have the character of a Table C ‘Speed and Handiness,’ but rather a type Table A course with bigger fences. The sole purpose for using Table C scoring is to give a skillful athlete with an unlucky knockdown an opportunity to obtain a reasonable placing.”
Many riders have won the final without winning the speed leg, but if they’re well down the rankings after this round, it’s hard to battle back up to the top.
The second leg, which will take place on April 8, is a Table A jump-off class set at 1.50 to 1.60 meters. It’s run like a typical grand prix class, with all the riders who jump clear over the first round returning for a jump-off. Anyone who retires or is eliminated in the first leg is not eligible to continue.
After the first two legs of competition, the scoring gets interesting. The riders are assigned points depending on their placings in each class. For each leg, the winner gets 1 more point than the number of starters in that leg. Second place gets 2 points less than that, and each placing down the line gets 1 less.
Once each rider has been assigned their combined points from the first two classes, the points are converted to faults. The rider with the most total points is assigned 0 faults. All other riders’ faults are calculated by giving them half the difference between their points and that of the leader. So, if the leading rider had 64 points and another rider has 42, the leading rider will have 0 faults going into the final day, while the second rider would have 11 faults.
After a rest day on April 9, 30 riders and horses return for the final day on April 10, and they jump two rounds. These rounds are over 1.50- to 1.60-meter courses, and “approximately equal in the number of obstacles and length of the course, with the second round having an increased level of difficulty,” according to the FEI rules. There is no jump-off for either round, and only the top 20 (plus any ties for 20th) will return for the second round.
Any faults in these two rounds are added to the rider’s total, and the rider with the fewest faults at the end of the day wins. In rare instances, there have been ties for first place, which are broken with a jump-off. (This occurred in both 2012 and 2013.) Ties further down the placing remain as ties.
There are 18 competitors in the dressage final, with two places allocated to North American riders. Ashley Holzer, who previously rode in the Olympics for Canada, will represent the U.S. for first time in a championship with Havanna 145. Young professional Anna Buffini will make her senior championship debut with FRH Davinia La Douce.
Isabell Werth has won the past three World Cup Finals (2017-2019) with Weihegold OLD, and they’re looking to score another victory. But fellow German rider and reigning Olympic and European Championships individual gold medalists Jessica von Bredow-Werndl and TSF Dalera could dethrone her.
The World Cup Final dressage scoring is much simpler than that for show jumping. All combinations will compete in the Short Grand Prix, and any athlete scoring at least 60% will advance to the freestyle. Scores earned in the Short Grand Prix are used for qualification and seeding purposes only and are not carried forward to the freestyle.
The show jumpers will have their first opportunity to get in the ring on Wednesday, April 6, for a training session, with competition beginning Thursday.
• Thursday, April 7: Speed round at 2:35 p.m. local time (8:35 a.m. EDT)
• Friday, April 8: Round 2 at 2 p.m. local time (8 a.m. EDT)
• Saturday, April 9: Show jumping rest day
• Sunday, April 10: Show jumping final at 2:45 p.m. local time (8:45 a.m. EDT)
• Thursday, April 7: Short Grand Prix at 6:30 p.m. local time (noon EDT)
• Saturday, April 9: Grand Prix freestyle at 7:10 p.m. local time (1:10 p.m. EDT)
How To Watch At Home: FEI TV is streaming all events through Clip My Horse. It is a paid subscription service. Learn more.