BY NICOLE GRAFF
THE FEI WORLD CUPTM FINALS, a thrilling annual indoor Championship competition for the world’s most elite jumping and dressage horses, is returning to the U.S. in 2017 and for the first time ever, will be hosted in the nation’s Midwest region, in Omaha, Nebraska. The red carpet will be rolled out at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha for the biggest names in equestrian sport as they compete for the coveted titles of World Cup Champion on March 29 through April 2, 2017.
The world-class horses and riders will be arriving from all corners of the globe to compete in the 2017 FEI World Cup FinalsTM, which features the Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping Final and the FEI World CupTM Dressage Final. This is a rare opportunity for fans to watch the world’s top equestrian athletes compete under one roof, including World, European and Olympic Champions – and potentially many superstars from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio!
“The FEI World CupTM Finals are undoubtedly THE equestrian event of the year and we urge everyone to buy their tickets now to make sure they don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to see the biggest and brightest stars in the sport,” said Lisa Roskens, Chairman of the Omaha Equestrian Foundation which is producing the 2017 FEI World CupTM Finals. “It’s so exciting that the biggest annual Championship for jumping and dressage horses will be right here in the Midwest and we are really looking forward to welcoming the equestrian world to Omaha!”
Omaha, well known for its warm Midwestern hospitality and diversity, also boasts magnificent equestrian facilities and joins the ranks of prestigious cities that have previously played host to the Finals, including Gothenburg (Sweden), s’-Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands), Las Vegas (USA), Helsinki (Finland) and Paris (France) to name a few. 60,000 people from all 50 states and at least 30 countries are expected to attend the 2017 Finals in Omaha and tickets are already selling fast. Started in 1979, the FEI World CupTM
Jumping Final is an annual international showdown among the world’s best show jumping horses and riders. In the 38 Finals held through 2016, Germany (10) and the United States (9) have emerged with the most titles. Previous FEI World CupTM Jumping Finals held in the United States include Baltimore (1980), Tampa (1989), Del Mar, CA (1992) and Las Vegas (2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2015). Top competitors will likely include riders like 2012 Olympic gold medalist and two-time defending FEI World CupTM Champion Steve Guerdat of Switzerland, who will have the opportunity to defend the back- to-back titles he won in 2015 and 2016. Top U.S. riders like Beezie Madden, the 2013 FEI World Cup Champion and a two- time Olympic team Gold Medalist, are also expected to be on hand.
The FEI World CupTM Dressage Final was first held in 1986 and features the world’s best dressage horses and riders. A total of 31 Finals have been held through 2016, and the United States has won the championship twice – in 2003 (Debbie McDonald with Brentina) and 2009 (Steffen Peters with Ravel). The Final has been held in the U.S. five times, in Los Angeles (1995) and Las Vegas (2005, 2007, 2009, 2015). The 2016 FEI World CupTM Dressage Champion, Hans-Peter Minderhoud of The Netherlands, will have the opportunity to defend his title, but there will be many other top competitors who will be looking to have their name engraved on the trophy. Two-time World Cup Champion Charlotte Dujardin of Great Britain, the reigning Olympic, World and European Champion, could be on hand seeking to reclaim the titles she won in 2014 and 2015, while top American rider Steffen Peters could also be here looking to regain the World Cup Championship that he won in 2009. Peters’s Rio Olympic bronze medal teammate, Laura Graves, may also be in Omaha after having placed fourth at the 2015 Final in Las Vegas.
Things will get under way on Wednesday, March 29 with Jumping and Dressage Warm-ups. Actual competition will begin on Thursday, March 30, with the Dressage Grand Prix starting at 1:00 PM and Jumping Speed Class at 7:00 PM. On Friday, March 31, the Dressage Freestyle Rehearsal will be held at 9:00 AM with the Dressage showcase starting at 3:00 PM followed by the Jumping Grand Prix at 7:00 PM. On Saturday, April 1, the Dressage Freestyle to Music – the event determining the 2017 FEI World CupTM Champion – will begin at 2:00 PM, with the Jumping Grand Prix competition at 7:00 PM. On Sunday, April 2, the Final Jumping competition will begin at 2:00 PM, which ultimately decide who will be crowned the 2017 FEI World CupTM Jumping Champion.
A variety of tickets packages are available for the Longines FEI World CupTM Jumping Final and FEI World CupTM Dressage Final, but the VIP Tickets are the best seats in the house and include access to the VIP Hospitality Lounge throughout the event! The VIP Hospitality Lounge will feature full meals, open bar and other amenities, all included with each VIP ticket. There are also All-Session tickets available and each all-session package includes admission to five sessions. For more information about the 2017 FEI World CupTM Finals and to purchase tickets please go to OmahaWorldCup2017.com, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or at the CenturyLink Center Omaha box office.
Hospitality Packages are also available! The elegant Suites are spacious, comfortable and overlook the entire arena with seating for 20-25 people. Wait service, food, drink and access to the VIP Lounge are included throughout the event. Ringside tables gets you up close to the action in comfort and style with In-Arena seating for 8 people, complimentary wine and heavy hors d’oeuvres along with access to the VIP Lounge throughout the event. For more information on Hospitality packages please call 508-698-6810×10.
For more information about the 2017 FEI World CupTM Finals, hotels, and ticket information, please go to OmahaWorldCup2017.com.
The 2017 FEI World CupTM Finals are being produced by the Omaha Equestrian Foundation, a certified 501c(3) not-for-profit foundation. The focus of the foundation is to foster and develop international caliber athletes within the equestrian sport as well as supporting and educating the community. Since 2013, The Omaha Equestrian Foundation has donated tickets to local charities and last year created field trips for over 2,400 elementary school students, veterans and local military families. The OEF also runs the International Omaha, an annual top-level jumping and dressage competition also held at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha. For more information about the Omaha Equestrian Foundation, visit OmahaEquestrian.com or call 402-444-1630.