The magnificent setting of City Hall in Paris played host Wednesday night to the draws for both the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping and FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2018 Finals. Guests were greeted by the arresting music of the world-famous band from La Guarde Republicaine (The Republican Guard) and the atmosphere was electric as defending champion, Isabell Werth from Germany, and French rider Ludovic Henry matched the starting numbers and names for Friday’s first leg of the Dressage finale.
Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann was joined by Rio Olympic team gold medallist Roger Yves Bost from France to select the order-of-go for tomorrow night’s opening Jumping competition in which America’s McLain Ward will also begin the defence of his title with the brilliant mare HH Azur.
Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (left) and French star Roger Yves Bost (right) pictured at the draw for starting order of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Paris (FRA) tonight. Hosts for the night were Yannick Bichon (far left) and Alison Drummond (far right).
A total of 37 riders from 17 countries will battle it out over three days of Jumping, while 18 riders from 13 nations will contest the Dressage title. It’s going to be a battle of the giants in both disciplines and no quarter will be given, but Frenchman Henry, didn’t do his chances any harm when pulling out his own name as last to go in his opening event.
“It’s been our dream for many years to bring these Finals back to Paris”, said show organiser Sylvie Robert, “and now at last our dream has come true!”. Both the Jumping and Dressage Finals have taken place at the Parisian venue before, but never together, and only once. America’s Katharine Burdsall, riding The Natural, claimed the ninth Jumping title in the City of Lights all the way back in 1986, and Finland’s Kyra Kyrklund and Matador won the sixth FEI World Cup™ Dressage title in 1991. It is another American partnership, McLain Ward with his brilliant mare HH Azur, who will be defending the Jumping title.
With the riders and their horses ready to go, and fans pouring into the city with great anticipation the stage is set for a fantastic weekend of top sport.
FEI President, Ingmar de Vos, said “it’s an honour to be here in Paris, home of the Olympic Games in 1900 and 1924, and of course 2024, but also the home of so many other great sporting moments. The world’s best partnerships have fought hard to be here and they are ready to claim their piece of history!”
Starting order for Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 Final, competition 1 here
Starting order for FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2018 Final Grand Prix here
US OLYMPIANS CLAIM LONGINES FEI AWARDS FOR BEST JUMPING RIDER AND BEST HORSE
World number one Kent Farrington has claimed the award for the Longines FEI World’s Best Jumping Rider and the US Olympic mare HH Azur was declared the Longines FEI World’s Best Jumping Horse at a special presentation in the Paris City Hall Wednesday night.
Olympic team silver medallist Kent Farrington (USA) took over the number one slot in the Longines World Rankings in May 2017 and refused to allow anyone to break his winning streak, remaining at the top of the elite list for the rest of the year. The 37-year-old, who is well on the road to recovery after breaking his right leg in a fall in mid-February, received the award for the Longines FEI World’s Best Jumping Rider after finishing the year on 3,313 points, holding off those snapping at his heels – Harrie Smolders (NED) on 2,953 points and fellow US Olympian McLain Ward on 2,903.
The 12-year-old HH Azur, which McLain Ward rode to victory at last year’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Omaha (USA), added another major accolade to her collection when being named the Longines FEI World’s Best Jumping Horse. Affectionately known as “Annie”, the Olympic mare is owned by Double H Farms and Francois Mathy (BEL), who collected the award at tonight’s presentation accompanied by his wife Claudia Mathy and McLain Ward.
“We are delighted to the Longines FEI best rider and best horse here tonight in Paris in this beautiful setting of the Mairie de Paris, a fitting prelude to the FEI World Cup™ Finals,” FEI President Ingmar de Vos said.
“We are all inspired by how these athletes – both human and equine – ignite the passion in our sport and show us what it takes to succeed on the world stage. In addition, the successful partnership we have established with Longines, demonstrating the synergies between the brand and our sport, not only give extra recognition to our athletes, but the creation of these awards has given additional value to the Longines rankings and provides a further incentive to our athletes worldwide.”
“The Longines FEI World’s Best Jumping Horse and Rider Awards ceremony has enabled us to once again celebrate the common passion for equestrian sports we share with our Top Partner the FEI”, Juan-Carlos Capelli, Vice President of Longines and Head of International Marketing, said. “As we have seen here tonight, through these awards, we are increasing the visibility of jumping and bringing together the heroes of the discipline on a global level. We are delighted to crown the 2017 best jumping athletes in the context of these prestigious FEI World Cup Finals.”
Kent Farrington and HH Azur’s co-owner François Mathy were each presented with an elegant Longines watch from the Longines Saint-Imier Collection as well as a replica trophy of the magnificent crystal winged hourglass representing the brand’s emblem at the inaugural ceremony in Paris, alongside the FEI World Cup™ Finals 2018 draws for Jumping and Dressage.
Capturing the suspense and excitement throughout the year as the world’s best Jumping athletes battled it out on the international circuit, these two new awards recognise the achievement and outstanding performances in Jumping across the globe.
To see more on the Longines FEI World’s Best Jumping Rider, click here
To see more on the Longines FEI World’s Best Jumping Horse, click here