Major League Show Jumping is headed full steam ahead to the final two events of its inaugural season in Southern California. As the race for the inaugural championship nears its conclusion, we’re shining the spotlight on the fresher faces, the “rookie” riders in their first season competing with an international team.

Next Up: the Crusaders’ Alessandra Volpi

Age: 21
Hometown: Woodside, CA
Team: Crusaders
FEI Wins: 1
Career Highlights: Runner-up, 2021 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington CSI4*-W; top 10, 2021 Hampton Classic Grand Prix CSI4*; Team silver medalist, 2019 North American Youth Championships

Alessandra “Alex” Volpi has had a breakout fall. A member of the second-place Crusaders—alongside five-star veterans Molly Ashe, Samuel Parot, Juan Carlos García, Charlie Jacobs and Peter Leone—Volpi contributed to a podium finish for her team in her MLSJ debut in Traverse City in July.

The 21-year old is a product of the American youth system; she is a two-time veteran of the North American Youth Championships, where in 2019 she earned a team silver medal. The 13-year-old Hanoverian Foster 39 took Volpi into the senior international level, and the dark bay continues to produce for his rider as her mount for MLSJ team competition.

“He brought me from the high junior jumper division to World Cup qualifiers. He is an amazing horse and my closest partnership,” Volpi told MLSJ.

Also among her string are the 11-year-old gelding Absolute du Mio, also known as “Vodka” and the eye-catching 13-year-old Berlinda. Volpi and Berlinda first burst onto the scene at MLSJ’s September event in Traverse City, where they jumped to a top five finish in the CSI5* American Gold Cup Grand Prix.

But after that performance, she stepped away from the saddle for five weeks…to go to class.

Volpi is navigating the ultimate juggling act, as she is a full-time student at Stanford University, where she is pursuing a major in Science, Technology and Society with a minor in Mechanical Engineering. Still, she’s remained committed to her sport, with the support of her trainer Max Amaya. After those five weeks, she hopped on a redeye to Tryon, NC, where she was the runner-up in the CSI4* Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Washington, putting herself into contention for the World Cup Finals next April.

“I was a bit nervous to come back and go straight into these big classes, but I think [Berlinda and I] work really well together,” Volpi said. “We have similar attitudes and are similar sizes!”

Berlinda, the former ride of Hans-Dieter Dreher (GER) might be small in stature, but she navigates the fences with ease, beautiful style and tremendous scope. Volpi acquired the mare at the end of the 2021 winter season, and while the two have clicked quickly, they did not rush the development of their partnership.

“We took it slow at the beginning. We did a three-star after three months [together],” Volpi explained. “We were always knocking on the door, but never quite going in! We hit our stride during the summer. She’s been absolutely incredible for me.”

The west coast MLSJ events will be a homecoming for Volpi, as California has long been her base.

“MLSJ will bring many high-level competitions to North America and provide opportunities to riders who previously may not have had access,” Volpi said. “I am very excited to be a part of this new league.”

If Volpi can perform as she has straight out of the classroom, imagine what she will do upon her graduation in 2022. Look for this young talent to contend on the championship stage in the years to come.

Feature image: Phelps/Emma Miller