Rich Fellers and Flexible in winning form at HITS Thermal, February 28, 2016. Ph. ESI
Following the final event of the North American League at Live Oak International on February 28, the qualified U.S. riders are already planning their upcoming weeks that will lead up to traveling to Europe for the 2016 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final. This year’s Final will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden from March 23 – 26.
On the East Coast, Kent Farrington leads standings, but it’s no surprise that he’s not booking a ticket to Sweden; the highly successful FEI ranked World No. 3 rider is focused on qualifying for the Rio Olympics, and has long planned to skip the Final.
However, the second, third and fourth-placed riders are looking ahead to Gothenburg;
“I am planning on going to the Final and will take Lucifer and New York,” said second-place finisher in the East Coast league, Hardin (Jack) Towell (USA).
The East Coast league’s third place finisher Quentin Judge (USA) finished in fifth in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping in Ocala with HH Whisky Royale, but plans to take HH Copin van de Broy to Sweden.
“I’m planning to go to the Final with Copin and will jump him in two small classes before we head over to Gothenburg in a few weeks, to make sure he’s fit and ready to go,” Judge commented.
Current Longines Rankings World No. 4 Beezie Madden (USA) also plans to head to the Final, despite missing the last two East Coast league events. “We’re hoping to be able to go, that’s for sure,” Madden said. “Right now, Simon and Cortes will not go, but we have two horses, Quister and Breitling, who are doing really well and we just have to see which ones of those two we’d like to take the Final. Breitling just jumped double clear at last week’s Nations Cup so we’re really excited about him.”
McLain Ward sits in 5th place in the World Cup standings, but he does not plan to travel to Europe next month, instead opting to focus on qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In Ward and Farrington’s place, it’s likely that alternate Dinan will receive a bid.
“I was waiting to see after [Sunday] that if it does work out, I’d plan on taking Nougat du Vallet,” Dinan said. “He competed in the World Cup qualifier at the Wellington Masters two weeks ago. I will figure out what makes most sense because I’ll be qualified on multiple horses but that would be my plan.
“I jumped him in the World Cup Final at Gothenburg in 2013 and always wanted to go back there. I’m heading back to Boston right now and come back to Wellington to jump in Florida in the next two weeks. If I end up getting into the Final, then I’ll organise my schedule around that.”
In the West Coast league, top U.S. riders, Rich Fellers and Richard Spooner plan to compete in the Final. Karl Cook, who leads West Coast standings, made a late decision not to contest the Final this year. That opens the spot up for 4th placed Will Simpson and The Dude, but Simpson was not planning to attend either at last check. So while that third spot is undetermined as of yet, for the two veteran West Coast riders, the Finals are a sure bet.
“I would like to do the World Cup Final with the horse because I really need to get to know (new horse, Big Red),” Spooner said. “I really want to feel confident on the horse and I want to feel 100 percent, if Rio were to be in his future, that I would feel 100 percent confident in our ability to do that and I have a short time to do it.”
UPDATE: As of 4:30pm on March 2, Richard Spooner has decided not to take part in the World Cup Final in order to take more time to develop his relationship with Big Red.
For Fellers, he received a big boost of confidence in his horse Flexible’s ability to compete in an amazing seventh World Cup Final when he picked up two, back-to-back grand prix wins over the weekend at HITS Thermal, California. In particular, the $50,000 Osphos Grand Prix (pictured at top) on Sunday, February 28 at Thermal was a significant turning point for Fellers and Flexible’s owners. If the 20-year-old Irish Sport Horse continued to show good form, they would confirm their plans for Gothenburg.
“I just have a simple rule with what I do with my show jumpers, which is I just let them tell me how they feel and I go with that, and he feels really good,” Fellers said of 20-year-old stallion Flexible and their plans to travel to the Final. “I don’t have any explanation for it, but he just feels as good as ever.”
Flexible and Fellers broke a quarter-century drought in 2012 when they became the first American pair since 1987 to win the FEI World Cup Jumping Final. In 2015 they placed 7th.
FINAL STANDINGS – EAST COAST
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FINAL STANDINGS – WEST COAST
|RANK||ATHLETE||LATEST POINTS||TOTAL POINTS|