With just four qualifying events left in the North American League (NAL), the race to the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final is rounding the homestretch.
Fourteen NAL riders will earn a spot at the Final in Paris—ten Americans (seven from the East Coast and three from the West Coast), two Canadians and two Mexicans.
Currently sitting atop the leaderboard for the East Coast sub-league are Alison Robitaille (USA), who with 52 points has all but confirmed her ticket; last year’s World Cup champion McLain Ward (USA) with 45 points; and USA’s Andy Kocher and Jack Towell, who are tied on 38 points apiece.
For the West Coast sub-league, World Cup alumni Richard Spooner (58 points), Mandy Porter (41 points) and Jenni McAllister (40 points) have a lock on the top three for the USA. (And some 19 past appearances at the individual final between them.)
All eyes are now on the bottom end of the qualifying ranks.
This season’s contenders will jockey for the remaining spots over the coming weeks, starting with Guadalajara, Mexico at the end of January. The next leg of the NAL season to take place on American soil is the CP Palm Beach Masters CSI3*-W, presented by Sovaro®, in Wellington, FL, from February 1–4, 2018.
Keep watch for these are the dark horses vying for a spot in Paris:
On 37 points, Devin Ryan is just one result away from hitting that sweet spot in the low 40s that will all but guarantee him a spot in his first championship. His biggest challenge at the CP Palm Beach Masters will be experience—or rather, lack thereof. Ryan’s mount, Eddie Blue, is just nine-years old and has only jumped in a handful of 1.60m classes. That said, the KWPN gelding has been phenomenally consistent. Eddie Blue won the qualifier in Washington as an eight-year-old and, in all of 2017, never incurred more than a single rail in an FEI ranking class.
Jennifer Gates is currently the sixth ranked American in the West Coast sub-league with 24 points. To have a fighting chance for Paris she needs a top finish at the CP Palm Beach Masters if she hopes to usurp Porter or McAllister from the top three. The 21-year-old rider is betting on Luftikus S to get the job done. Gates and the 14-year-old Dutch gelding took fifth place in Calgary last year, but retired on course at the last qualifier in Las Vegas. If she does qualify, Paris would mark her World Cup Final debut.
Twenty-four-year old Catherine Tyree has earned 19 ranking points in three of the four qualifiers she’s contested this season, including a third-place finish in Washington with Enjoy Louis. Unfortunately, they were eliminated at their last World Cup appearance in Las Vegas. Tyree is bringing her top mount Bokai for the Wellington leg and will be looking to capture the here-to elusive fourth score that will round out her bid for Paris. (Note: a rider’s ranking is determined by their top four Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping results.)
USA’s Andrew Ramsay has contested four World Cup qualifiers in the 2017/2018 season, earning top 10 finishes in two. After narrowly missing qualification the Final in Omaha last year, he’s on a mission to make the cut for Paris and is bringing two horses to contest the CP Palm Beach Masters—California 62 and Cocq a Doodle. With 19 points, a top finish would put him within striking distance of France.
Two-time World Cup champion Ian Millar (CAN) is hardly an underdog in the race to Paris. He’s only competed in one qualifier this season—Toronto, where he finished fifth—which suggests he’s not making a bid for the Final. However, a top finish at the CP Palm Beach Masters could jeopardize Laura Jane Tidball’s position in the ranking. At 32 points, Tidball is the second top placed Canadian behind Isabelle Lapierre, winner of the Calgary and Bromont legs of the NAL this season. Neither rider is scheduled to compete in Wellington, leaving the door open for Millar.
In addition to these five spectacular riders, expect to see top American talent Beezie Madden, Laura Kraut, Lauren Hough, Leslie Howard, Margie Engle, Todd Minikus, Jessica Springsteen, and Hannah Selleck, as well as international stars Ben Maher, Beat Mandli, Dennis Lynch, and Darragh Kenny, at the CP Palm Beach Masters!
General Admission tickets ($20 per ticket) for the CP Palm Beach Masters CSI3*-W Presented by Sovaro® are now available through Eventbrite at https://palmbeachmasters.com/
Further information is available online at www.palmbeachmasters.com.
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