Start Your Engines: The First World Cup Qualifier in Western European League Kicks Off at Oslo CSI5*-W

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clain Ward & HH Azur, winners of the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Final Omaha.
Mclain Ward & HH Azur, winners of the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Final Omaha.

Across Western Europe, equestrian fans know that the approaching Winter spell translates to just one thing – the start of the much-loved Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping season. This year, the series celebrates its 40th anniversary, with the Final returning to Paris, France for the first time in 30 years.

The record books show Germany and the USA neck-and-neck in title victories, with both countries boasting 10 apiece. The trophy has legendary status, with the winners taking their place amongst the giants in sporting history. Earlier this year, USA’s Mclain Ward became the latest rider to accomplish such a feat, finishing 1st aboard the 11-year-old Belgian Sport Horse mare HH Azur (Thunder VD Zuuthoeve x Sir Lui VD Zuuthoeve) at the World Cup Final in Omaha, Nebraska. It took Ward at least 25 attempts to do it, and he didn’t disguise his sheer delight when he succeeded at last.

As the new Western European League gets underway at the Kingsland Oslo Horse Show CSI5*-W on Sunday, October 15, 2017, the battle for one of only 18 qualifying spots in the region commences. Eleven of the top 20 riders on the Longines FEI Rankings list will be in attendance, including Italy’s Alberto Zorzi, last year’s winner of the CSI5*-W Oslo opener.

Currently the World No. 3, France’s Kevin Staut enjoyed another incredibly consistent season when topping the 2017 Western European League table, and he’ll aim to collect early points on his journey to the 2018 Final, set to take place at the AccorHôtels Arena in his country’s capital city of Paris next April.

Oslo has also attracted several other top riders, including Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca, who has enjoyed an extraordinary run of form over the last 12 months, and the newly-crowned European champion, Peder Fredricson of Sweden. Add in the 2012 Olympic champion Steve Guerdat from Switzerland, who posted back-to-back World Cup wins in 2015 and 2016, and the 2014 champion Daniel Deusser of Germany, and it’s lining up to be a thrilling start to the 13-leg series.

Prior to the close of 2017, the superb indoor venues in Helsinki (FIN), Verona (ITA), Lyon (FRA), Stuttgart (GER), Madrid (ESP), La Coruna (ESP), London Olympia (GBR), and Mechelen (BEL) are next in the order. The action resumes in 2018 with the last four legs, taking place in Leipzig (GER), Zurich (SUI), Bordeaux (FRA), and finally, Gothenburg (SWE).

The Swedish city has hosted multiple Finals including the inaugural edition in 1979, when Austria’s Hugo Simon won the first of his three titles. When France held the Final in 1987,  USA’s Katharine Burdsall and The Natural rode to victory ahead of French rider Philippe Rozier, then aged just 24. Rozier would go on to be part of the gold medal winning team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The action can be watched live at The order of go can be viewed here. 

Cover photo by Lucio Landa.