North America Gets 3 Combinations, Up From 2, at World Cup Finals Beginning at Omaha 2023
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June 3, 2022
The number of rider and horse combinations from North America to be invited to the World Cup Final has been increased to three from two beginning with Omaha next April, under new rules published by the FEI, the International Equestrian Federation.
The full Grand Prix will be the qualifier for the Freestyle at the Final instead of the unpopular Short Grand Prix. Organizers of events around the world to qualify riders for the Final will have the option of offering either version of the Grand Prix.
The Short Grand Prix was first implemented at London Olympia’s Christmas World Cup in 2018 with the stated aim of tailoring it to fit tight television requirements. The first version was rewritten immediately after but the FEI made it the required qualifier for the Freestyle at World Cup events everywhere though it appeared unpopular with both riders and spectators and had no discernible benefit in attracting non-equestrian TV coverage.
And the points system applied as an interim step from score-based results at qualifiers in North America depending on the number of entries has been abandoned in favor of one standard that will follow the same format as Western and Central Europe–20 points for the winner.
The new rules also more closely align qualifying in the three major World Cup divisions–Western Europe, Central and North America–a rider/horse combination can start only in six qualifiers. The four best results will count in Western and Central Europe, and the three best in North America.
The increase to three officials invitations to North America to compete at the World Cup Final is likely to add extra excitement in Omaha, where the city’s first championship in 2017 was among the most popular ever with visitors and competitors from around the globe. The quality of facilities, hotels and restaurants within walking distance–the number has since been increased–and the famed Midwest friendliness.
According to the rules, additional combinations may also be invited to the Final that was first staged in 1986 as an annual global championship.
Competition for invitations to Omaha is expected to be fierce, especially in North America with a “home” crowd as demonstrated at Las Vegas in 2005, 2007, 2009 (2020 in Las Vegas was canceled because of Covid) and Omaha in 2017.
Top American and Canadian riders have already made known that Omaha is the main focus for 2023. Among them Steffen Peters as one of only two Americans to have won the title which he did on Ravel in 2009. Debbie McDonald on Brentina in 2003 was the first.
The rules for the Final provide for a starting lineup of 18 riders and horses–9 from Western Europe, 2 from Central Europe, 1 from the Pacific, 3 from North America, 1 non-league, 1 extra starting place and the defending champion.
In Omaha the defending champion will be Jessica von Bredow-Werndl, currently No. in the world on TSF Dalera BB as well as Tokyo Olympic team and individual gold medalist and the three golds at the 2021 European Championships. The Final will be Jessica’s first championship since her return from the birth of her second child.