Show jumping has a busier calendar than ever, with a five star event nearly every week of the year, it seems. In fact, this coming Christmas weekend is the only weekend of the year that doesn’t bear a CSI rating on the FEI calendar.
What’s a show jumping reporter to do with all this free time? Reflect on the year that was, of course. The NF team was ringside at nearly every major competition of the year in 2017, and as we look back on another action-packed 12 months of show jumping, these are the moments in sport—listed in chronological order—that stand out most in our minds. What stood out for you?
Under the Saturday Night Lights during the best of the Winter Equestrian Festival in February, Mclain Ward and HH Azur won the season’s first CSI5* grand prix with extra exuberance. It was a sure sign of what was to come the following month in Omaha, Nebraska. . .
It’s hard to overstate the significance of Mclain Ward’s dominating victory at the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Omaha, Nebraska. The write up about this unforgettable day is well worth the reread (just click the link above.) Unquestionably, this was one of the top show jumping moments of 2017.
The longtime ride of Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, 18-year-old Holsteiner stallion (Caretino 2 x Lavall 5) Casall ASK was heading toward a planned retirement ceremony in May at LGCT Hamburg, Germany. The stallion that often competes against his successful progeny has made his mark on the sport, and he gave us one more thrill by winning the final class of his career, the prestigious €300,000 Longines Grand Prix of Hamburg CSI5*.
Before he went on to win the Individual European Championship later in the summer, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson scored a meaningful win with his Rio Olympics partner H&M All In at Rotterdam in June. All In hadn’t jumped a 1.60m course since Rio 2016, and after successfully overcoming setbacks that might have been career ending in another program, the small bay gelding and his rider won their first grand prix back together.
Speaking of bonds between horse and rider, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one than the connection between Richard Spooner and Cristallo. The pair always shine at Spruce Meadows, and during the same circuit that they won the Nexen Cup Derby for the third time, they won the Sunlife Financial Derby CSI5*, with Spooner expressing deep gratitude to 19-year-old Cristallo.
It’s hard to believe that just two years ago, we were embroiled in the ring interference controversy that knocked Ireland out of contention at the 2014 European Championships. This year, the team tasted sweet redemption by coming back to win the team competition and be named 2017 European Champions. Coach Rodrigo Pessoa’s inside-out jacket moment on the awards podium was a fitting flourish.
Amid all the many (many, many) first place and top finishes the Longines FEI World No. 1 rider Kent Farrington enjoyed in 2017, his victory of the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva might have meant the most. Farrington’s been trying to capture this particular title for years, and when he finally made it happen this December, it was with gratitude and a satisfying cap on what has been a truly amazing year.