PHOTOS by Bianca McCarty
WORDS by Catie Staszak
For the first time in three years, equestrian sports’ most prestigious indoor championships returned to the fore with the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™, FEI Dressage World Cup™, FEI Driving World Cup™ and FEI Vaulting World Cup™ finals in Leipzig, Germany.
The World Cup boasts tremendous history and offers a special opportunity for riders as the most objective of championships, as there’s no team selection or subjectivity. With points earned by way of a variety of league qualifiers worldwide, athletes earn their places solely based on merit.
From centerline to jump-off, Bianca McCarty captured some standout moments from the finals at Partner Pferd:
The United States led all nations with seven representatives. Aaron Vale, Alessandra Volpi and Hunter Holloway all made their respective Championship debuts, while Schuyler Riley and Misti Cassar returned to the World Cup Finals after long hiatuses—15 and 22 years, respectively. Katie Dinan also returned to the Finals after a brief hiatus, having last competed in 2016.
Misti Cassar gave all the credit to Mylord Cornet after she and the 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding put in their best performance in the final round on Sunday.
But it was 2017 World Cup Finals Champion McLain Ward who finished best for the red, white and blue aboard his Tokyo Olympic mount, Contagious. The duo won Friday’s jump-off round, which put them into the lead heading into the final round of competition. A clear round was needed to clinch a second title for Ward, but it was not to be, as two rails fell in that final performance. Still, the pair finished ranked among the top 10.
Also among the top 10 was Conor Swail, who with Count Me In, finished eighth in the Irishman’s World Cup Finals debut. Swail led the North American League (NAL) standings heading into the Finals, having won qualifying legs at Vancouver, Sacramento and Forth Worth.
You likely know Peder Fredricson (SWE), who jumped to team gold and individual silver at the Tokyo Olympic Games with the indelible H&M All In. But a different Fredricson stole the spotlight in Leipzig: his brother, Jens. Jens and Markan Cosmopolit produced a stupendous double-clear performance on Sunday to secure themselves a place on the podium, finishing third after entering the round in ninth. Following the finish, Peder took to social media in the most touching of posts:
Harrie Smolders (NED) took the silver to finish second in these Finals for the second time in his career. Evergate Stables’ Monaco is in good company; Smolders’ other runner-up was the great Emerald in 2016.
Martin Fuchs (SUI) finished second the last time the World Cup Finals were held in 2019 with the great Clooney, his European Champion of the same year. That special horse suffered a career-ending injury in a paddock accident last August, leaving a massive void in Fuchs’ stable. The big-hearted Chaplin would give Fuchs his first career World Cup Finals victory. Fuchs also rode The Sinner at the Finals and is just the second rider in history to win the Championship utilizing two different horses.
The other big winner was Jessica von Bredow-Werndl (GER), who took the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final with her Tokyo Olympic Champion, TSF Dalera. The duo positively dazzled in the freestyle, receiving a score of 90.836%. Above is the face of a World Cup Champion—who is also six months pregnant.
With a full crowd of educated, enthusiastic crowd fully back in the stands showing support for the athletes, it was a most celebratory return for these greatly-missed Championships. The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals and FEI Dressage World Cup™ Finals return to Omaha, NE in 2023!
About the Photographer
Award-winning equestrian photographer Bianca McCarty is based just outside of Munich, Germany, but she has photographed horses around the world, from Iberian breeds in Portugal to show jumpers at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Wellington and athletes at the USEF Combined Driving National Championships. Known for her technical expertise along with her keen eye for capturing the magical connections between horses and riders, McCarty’s images can be found in publications across the globe, her passion for what she does communicated in every image. See more of her work at her website and on Instagram.