The 2022 Major League Show Jumping season comes to a dramatic close this week at Desert International Horse Park in what’s shaped up to be the closest team race yet.

There’s a championship title and $700k in prize money and bonuses on the line Thursday evening (6:30pm PT), the final MLSJ team event of the season.

Which teams are in line for title? Who’s the favorite? Dark horse podium picks? Let the speculation begin!


It’s a two-horse race for the title

Just three points apart on the team standings, Helios and Eye Candy are neck and neck heading into the Team Final.

Helios, represented by Ashlee Bond, Eugenio Garza, Karl Cook, Simon McCarthy, Bliss Heers and Mark Bluman, has dominated the season, leading the team championship race since leg one in Vancouver. All told, the League’s most fleet-footed team has logged a record-setting five wins over nine legs.

Here’s the but… While they’ve made the cut line six times to advance to the medal-deciding rounds, they’ve never been silver or bronze. It’s go gold or go home for Helios.

Their closest rivals this season have been Spy Coast Spies and Eye Candy and, for the first half of the season, the two appeared to be in a race for second. That changed in the second half. A mid season breakaway from Eye Candy, last year’s season champions, is now Helios’s biggest threat to the title.

And it’s a well earned one at that. Despite a comparatively slow start to the season, Eye Candy has been the most consistent team throughout the season, finishing in the top five every single stage.

With Paul O’Shea, Conor Swail, Amy Millar, Jacqueline Steffens, Dylan Daly and Richie Moloney in the stirrups, they’ve earned three wins and three bronze medal finishes, and have been gaining momentum in the homestretch with stage 8 & 9 wins in Monterrey and Thermal. They won’t have world #5 in the ring on Thursday, however. Swail is in Geneva this week. .

With double points on the line, a win at the Final for either Eye Candy or Helios will clinch the title.

Spy Coast Spies are the dark horse

Shane Sweetnam managed Spy Coast Spies have been spectacularly consistent throughout the season and have seen a breakthrough performance by 2021 rookie Lacey Gilbertson. Heavy hitters Margie Engle, Jordan Coyle, and Rodrigo Lambre round out the team, alongside Desert Horse Park frequent flyer Mark Kinsella.

They Spies have made the cut line seven times in nine legs, but haven’t won a single medal jump off. Despite fielding heavy hitters Jordan Coyle, Margie Engle and Rodrigo Lambre. The team sits on 53 points.

In order for the Spies to win the overall season, they need to win the Final and for Helios to be fifth or lower and Eye Candy to be fourth or lower. It’s a tall order, but they’re not out of the running.

One to watch: Trailblazers

It’s been a bit of a tale of two halves for the Trailblazers. They started the season with a bronze medal finish in Vancouver, then hit a dry spell until stage 5 when they bounced back with a silver medal finish in Traverse City.

Their season turned a corner at the mid-season trade portal with an influx of top talent in Darragh Kenny, Lillie Keenan, Patricio Pasquel, Manuel Dufrane  and Luis Sabino. Trailblazers have made the podium the past three legs, collecting silver and two bronze medal finishes for 44 points.

A win in the Finals could see them take second in the overall season championship.

Don’t count out the Crusaders

Crusaders are another team in podium contention. 

They’ve made the cut line five times this season and have collected one silver and two bronze medals already this season.

Teammates Daniel Coyle and Tanimara Macari are riding in off multiple wins at Desert Horse Park. Nicolas Pizarro, Luis Biraben, Tali Dejong, Tanimara Macari, Daniel Coyle and Rupert Winkelmann

It is absolutely all to play for at the Major League Show Jumping Finals with double points up for grabs for all of the teams while showing off the action live on MLS TV.