International Omaha Returns for First Time Since 2019

Omaha hosts show jumping and vaulting competition ahead of the 2023 FEI World CupTM.

Story and photos by Stephanie J. Ruff

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, the International Omaha was back, but this time with both show jumping and vaulting as they prepare to host the FEI World CupTM in 2023. Held May 5-8, 2022 at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska and presented by Burlington Capital, the event featured a Vaulting competition for the first time in Omaha, in addition to Speed Jumping and a Grand Prix Jumping Challenge.

Produced by the Omaha Equestrian Foundation, the four-day event gave riders a chance to compete for over $250,000 in prize money. Located in the heart of downtown Omaha, everything was under one roof – stabling, warm-up, the competition arena, educational and exhibit areas, demonstrations and a shopping expo.

Legendary show jumping champion Melanie Smith Taylor gave demonstration clinics throughout International Omaha.

Bernardo Costal Cabral from Portugal was the course designer for the event and will return next year as the course designer for the FEI Jumping World CupTM.

Friday night saw the $75,000 1.45 m InIt2WinIt Speed Jumping event where faults were converted to seconds. An enthusiastic crowd cheered on all the riders, but at the end it was 21-year-old Nicolas Gamboa (COL) aboard NKH Mr. Darcy, a 9-year-old Holsteiner stallion, who got around the course fastest in 49.981 seconds. He just edged out Jacqueline Ruyle and San Chano who had the fastest time for much of the evening.

Of his ride, Gamboa said “I watched her go on that horse (Ruyle and San Chano), and I thought she rode it textbook, and I knew I just had to really go for it if I wanted to beat it. NKH Mr. Darcy, who is owned by Neil Knox, was game from the moment he walked into the ring. I’m just very happy that he did everything I asked, and I stayed out of his way, and he gave me the win today.”

Nicolas Gamboa and NKH Mr. Darcy win the $75,000 speed jumping class InIt2WinIt.

1. NKH MR. DARCY and NICOLAS GAMBOA               49.981

2. SAN CHANO and JACQUELINE RUYLE                     51.142

3. SOVEREIGN and LISA GOLDMAN-SMOLEN             53.255

Sunday afternoon was the $100,000 International Omaha Grand Prix. Many of Friday night’s competitors returned to the arena to try Cabral’s course. It proved to be tricky with only three clear rides – Caelinn Leahy and Coldplay 31, Rachel Lindsey and Comander 16, and Jacqueline Ruyle and San Chano – that would come back for the jump off.

No one went clean through the shortened course. Leahy, from Maple Park, Ill., was the fastest of the two four fault rides to secure her undefeated record for the day. Leahy entered four classes on Sunday and won all four. Ruyle finished second as she did on Friday night.

“What a fantastic day,” Leahy said following her win with Coldplay 31, a 2009 Westphalian gelding. “I’m still kind of processing it, but all my horses love showing here…we were here last time (in 2019) and it was so much fun so to be back is so great. I guess the horses are happy to be back, too.”

Caelinn Leahy and Coldplay 31 win the $100,000 Invitational Omaha Grand Prix.

1. COLDPLAY 31 and CAELINN LEAHY

2. SAN CHANO and JACQUELINE RUYLE

3. COMANDER 16 and RACHEL LINDSEY