Ten events. Three countries. Eight teams. One team champion.
The tenth and final leg of the Major League Show Jumping team event will play out Friday night at Desert International Horse Park in Thermal, CA and with it the team champion crowned.
Eye Candy is in the sweet spot, leading the standings on 60 points with Roadrunners, the runner ups on 51 points. A.I.M. United and Crusaders sit in third and fourth on 46 and 44 points, respectively.
But it’s not over yet. With double points and $200,000 on the table, the door is open for a shake up in the rankings.
MLSJ co-founder Keean White breaks down the team odds heading into Friday’s Final.
If Eye Candy podiums, it’s job done.
Eye Candy has dominated the Team Rankings for the lion’s share of the season. Heading into the Final with a nine point lead, it’s their title to lose on Friday—any podium placing clinches the championship win for MLSJ’s winningest team.
“The first round is going to tell a lot. If Eye Candy can get into that second round then their obviously in a great, great position,” said White.
The odds are in their favor, too. Over nine legs, Eye Candy has advanced to the top four in nearly 75% of the team events.
The notable change this week: they’ll ride without Paul “Coach” O’Shea for the first time this season.
“Coach is actually the coach this week. There they’ve opted to put Jacqueline Steffens in on Freaky with Conor Swail (Theo 160) and Amy Millar (Christiano),” he continued.
“Coach does not have his top horse here this week and Jacqueline’s been so consistent. They’re in one way taking a gamble. But, Jacqueline’s been one of the best riders all year.”
Roadrunners are counting on the home team advantage
DIHP’s home team, Roadrunners, could take the championship win with a podium finish, but they need Eye Candy to have an off day. How off?
“If they’re second, they need Eye Candy to be sixth or worse, and if they win, they need Eye Candy not to podium,” shared White.
Roadrunners are banking on the team staples who got them this far and benching their top two world ranked riders.
“Roadrunners have decided to go with the one who got them here. They’re going to ride Christian Heineking, Kaitlin Campbell and Kyle King. And they’re going to sit McLain Ward and Adrienne Sternlicht.
“It’s a brave move. If it works out, it’s going to be a heck of a storyline.”
Crusaders and A.I.M. United still have a long shot
Mathematically, it’s still possible for A.I.M United or Crusaders to take the title. But the odds are against them.
“Crusaders need to win and for Eye Candy to be eighth and the Roadrunners not to finish in the top three—under that scenario, the Crusaders could win,” said White.
“A.I.M. United has a bit more of an opening here. They need to win and have Roadrunners not be second or third, and for Eye Candy to be sixth or worse.”
Running interference on all contenders on Friday will by Otomi Warriors, Blazing 7s, Diamond Devils and Lucky Charms, all four of which will be fighting for a podium finish and the purse.
It’s not over until the final timer is crossed
The top four teams are fighting for the championship title, but the podium is any team’s game.
“We know in showjumping, and we’ve seen throughout this tour, with three riders and three scores to count, you never know what’s going to happen,” said White. “Nothing’s in the bag until it’s actually in the bag.”
Tune in Friday at 5:45 pm PT (8:45 pm ET) for the MLSJ Team Final LIVE on majorleagueshowjumping.com.