Henrik von Eckermann Tops FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final I

Henrik von Eckermann Tops FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final I. The World No. 1 rider and King Edward win the first of three legs.

The world No. 1 rider showed spectators in Omaha how he got to the top. Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) sped around the course with King Edward, finishing .14 seconds faster than the 39 other riders in the first leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final.

Last to go in the start order, Eckermann navigated the 13-year-old BWP gelding to a faultless round in 59.09 seconds. Finishing close behind was Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Jefferson, a 14-year-old BWP gelding, in 59.32. Daniel Deusser and Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z, a 15-year-old Zangersheide stallion, rounded out the top three in a time of 59.45 seconds.

“My horse has a very big stride,” van Eckermann said. “So I was hoping that it could be somewhere I could take out maybe one or two strides where maybe other ones had to add one. For example, the the triple bar, I went eight [strides]. To the last, I went nine, and the rest I could keep up the strides what everyone else did. So that I think just made it that I could be a little in front.”

jumping world cup™ final I
Henrik von Eckermann and King David win the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 1.
© Amy K. Dragoo

The class is part of the 2023 FEI World Cup™ Finals, at the CHI Health Center in Omaha, Nebraska, April 4-8. The Finals include the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final. This is also the first time the Burlington Capital FEI Vaulting World Cup™ Final is being held in North America.

A Fair Course

Many riders said course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral’s course with 16 jumping efforts was fair for the first night of competition. The course included three one-stride combinations, two liverpools and a triple bar oxer. The course was a “speed and handiness test.” The highest fence was 1.60 meters, and jumping faults were converted into seconds. For each rail down, three seconds was added to a rider’s time.

Riders said there were not many options within the lines—most had to do the same number of strides. Instead, they had to set themselves apart and make up time in the turns, even though the ring is small.

Eckermann said he always counts strides around corners with King Edward. “With my horse as long as I can move forward, he’s quick. If I have to hold, it takes a bit of time. It gets a little bit slow. So I have to try to always move, and that’s why it’s so important because I don’t see the stride when I land when it’s around the corner. But I count it, and I know that ‘OK, if I go forward now, I will get it.’ For example, to the triple bar, if you land and look, I will never see the eight strides. But I land and go, and I know it will come if I keep on going.”

Von Eckermann and King Edward

At just under 16 hands (162 centimeters), King Edward is a small horse who gets bigger and braver when he’s in the competition arena. “He really knows the occasion. He’s a very small horse,” von Eckermann said. “But it’s like he’s growing. … He feels like he’s just getting bigger and bigger when he goes in the ring, and that’s what makes him just an unbelievable horse. … he’s small but with a big heart.”

King Edward, von Eckermann continued, has incredible power behind—”an engine that’s unbelievable.” But when he’s at home, however, “he’s like a dog, very easygoing. It feels like you could take him into your home.”

Scott Brash and Hello Jefferson

Scott Brash rode 13th in the order of go and held on to that lead until the last of the 40 riders. But he still was delighted with how Hello Jefferson tackled the speed course.

“He’s an amazing horse. He has all the talent you need to win big grand prix, big competitions. I’ve always believed in him. I think he’s a fantastic horse,” said Brash, who has been riding Jefferson for about six years. “He’s sharp, so that’s sometimes tricky to manage, trying to go quick on day one, but also keep him relaxed. It’s tough, but he really delivered today.

“He has all the talent,” Brash continued. “He’s strong-minded but loves jumping, loves the sport and he’s very careful, very scopey.”

Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Jefferson claimed second in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 1.
© Amy K. Dragoo

Daniel Deusser and Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z

Deusser said sitting third is a good place to be after the first day of competition. He added that the class was close in time at the top. “One fault or maybe one stride here tonight makes a difference of five or six or maybe seven places,” he said.

As for Tobago, “He’s very cool, to be honest. When you warm up, he looks a little bit on the cold side. He’s very simple to warm up. But when he comes in the ring, he knows what to do. And then just gives a little bit more what we need in the ring.

Daniel Deusser (GER) and Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z earned third place in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 1.
© Amy K. Dragoo

The U.S. Riders

Nine U.S. riders tested their skills on the course with two galloping into the top 10. Riding in her second World Cup Final, Hunter Holloway leads the red, white and blue contingent in eighth place. She rode Pepita Con Spita, a 12-year-old Westphalian mare, to a faultless round in 61.35 seconds.

“My horse is super, you know, she really handles this environment great, loves a big crowd, and she really tries her heart out every time I walk into a ring,” Holloway said about Pepita. “So she definitely performed today. There’s a couple places that maybe I could have been a little quicker, but she certainly gave her all and put in a great effort.

“I love that mare so much,” Holloway continued. “We have really quite the bond developed now. We’ve been with each other quite a few years, and she’s a lot of horse to ride. Definitely has her opinions. Typical mare, but I wouldn’t trade her for anything. She tries her heart out every time.”

Hunter Holloway (USA) and Pepita Con Spita are the highest placed Americans in eighth.
© Amy K. Dragoo

Rounding out the top 10, Aaron Vale and Prescott, an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding, knocked one rail down. But they still ended the night with a final score of 61.68. Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward and Callas, a 15-year-ol Holsteiner mare, were fault free in a time of 61.69 seconds to finish in 11th place. Ward said that he lost time in the first line. Most riders put in seven strides as did Ward. But in hindsight, he said he should have left a stride out. Devin Ryan and Eddie Blue also had a clear round in 64.62 seconds to finish in 21st. The remaining U.S. riders had one or more rails.

For a complete list of results, click here.

The Competition Continues

To read a report about the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ warm-up, click here. To read about the First Horse Inspection, click here. For a full schedule, click here.

The jumping competition resumes at 7:15 p.m. CDT, Thursday, April 6, 2023

Thanks to ADM Animal Nutrition for our coverage of the 2023 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final, including rider interviews, competition reports, photos, videos and more!

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