Fourteen athletes earned their tickets to the 2023 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Omaha, April 5–8, via the North American League (NAL), an eight qualifier tour across Canada, USA and Mexico.
Only this season, there wasn’t a single North American rider in the top three of the NAL standings.
Leading the pack from the East Coast were Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Daniel Bluman (ISR), who qualified for the annual individual championship with 66 points and 54 points respectively. (Only Ireland’s Conor Swail separates them with 56).
Coyle long topped the NAL standings thanks to his dual qualifier wins aboard 13-year-old Zangersheide mare Legacy at CSI5*-W Toronto and CSI4*-W Forth Worth last fall. Bluman earned his World Cup points with a win at the CSI4*-W Lexington on 15-year-old Zangersheide gelding Ladriano Z, and runner-up spots at both CSI5*-W Upper Marlboro and CSI5*-W Toronto with 12-year-old KWPN mare, Gemma W.
Two powerhouse riders. Three top mounts. But how are they likely to stack up at World Cup Finals? For that, we turned to Jumpr App to break it all down.
Coyle and Legacy are primed to peak
On paper, Coyle’s Legacy is a sure bet. At 13, the mare is in her competitive prime, with the experience to handle whatever championship competition throws her way. She’s also got the numbers on her side.
With more than €772,100 in total prize money, Legacy has about half the career earnings of Ladriano Z, but is remarkably consistent. A key point: In 2022, at the 1.60m height (the same height as Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final), Legacy posted clear rounds a whopping 73% of the time. For perspective, her career clear round average at 1.60m is 48%.
In fact, of Legacy’s 29 career podium finishes, including 14 wins, she earned nearly a third of them in 2022 alone. The mare’s career clear round percentage across all heights has improved year over year, too: from 40.5% in 2021, to 45.5% in 2022, to her best yet—66.7%—in 2023, suggesting her best could be yet to come.
The Verdict: According to the numbers, Legacy looks primed to peak when it counts with a clear round average that’s trending in the right direction. This pair has got momentum on their side and, as we know in this sport, timing is everything.
Legacy and Ladriano Z are coming off their career best seasons
Ultimately, every championship comes down to one metric: jumping clear rounds. At 45% and 48%, respectively, Ladriano and Legacy have a comparable career clear round average at 1.60m. But, one is considerably more ring-tested. Bluman and Ladriano have jumped twice as many rounds at the height, 60 total, to Legacy and Coyle’s 29, which speaks to their incredible consistency.
Both horses are coming into the World Cup Final off a phenomenal year. In 2022, each jumped 11 rounds at the 1.60m height and are tied on an impressive 73% clear round average. Ladriano earned three podium placings in 2022 with a 54% top 10 finish average, while Legacy made eight podiums with a phenomenal 89% top 10 finish average.
On paper that looks telling, but it’s not an apples to apples comparison. While both horses competed almost exclusively in 5* events, Ladriano showed largely in Europe against stiffer competition at such elite venues as Aachen, Geneva and Windsor, while Legacy competed primarily in North America where the horse and rider talent pool isn’t quite as deep.
Gemma W was also on the European circuit with Bluman, but lags behind both geldings in clear round (38%) and top 10 finish (46%) averages at the 1.60m height. Unlike Legacy and Ladriano, the mare was ‘always the bridesmaid’ this season in terms of World Cup Qualifiers, but her career earnings are on par with Legacy’s, hovering just under €700,000. She’s one year younger than Coyle’s mare, but boasts significantly fewer podium finishes: 18 compared to Legacy’s 29. That said, the two horses are equal in their podium finishes at the 1.55–1.60m height, with 10 a piece.
The Verdict: Size matters at the World Cup Final. Unlike the World Championship, which starts with a 1.50m speed class, all rounds at the World Cup Final are at the 1.60m height, including the opening faults-converted speed round. While Gemma W is certainly no slouch, her true strength, at least according to the numbers, may be at the 1.50m height where she jumped clear 67% on average in 2022.
Ladriano has the edge in experience
Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final has a history of rewarding longstanding partnerships. Think Ian Millar (CAN) and Big Ben, Hugo Simon (AUT) and E.T., Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and Baloubet du Rouet, Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) and Shutterfly. Of the Daniels, Bluman has a slight edge in both Ladriano Z and Gemma W. Emphasis on slight.
Partnered since 2017 and campaigned the year prior by his cousin, Ilan, Bluman and Ladriano are no strangers to the championship stage. They contested the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, NC, the 2019 European Championships in Rotterdam, NED, and the 2022 World Championships in Herning. Plus there’s that €1.5 million plus in career earnings to consider. This pair has been there and done that.
Gemma has also been in Bluman’s string for six years. The Israeli rider has produced the mare since age six and through every stage of her international career. The World Cup Final will be their first championship appearance together, but Bluman’s 10th.
Where does that leave Coyle and Legacy? This pair is near even in length of partnership (circa 2018) and also have championship experience. They finished 10th individually in the 2021 European Championships in Riesenbeck, Germany, their championship debut, and fourth with the Irish team at the 2022 World Championship in Herning. Unlike Bluman, Coyle has just the two championship appearances so far, though both with his trusted mount and with higher placings.
The Verdict: Though he has more years on his side, Ladriano also has more experience in the spotlight. If he’s performing on par with his historical best, there are few who can touch him for clear rounds at the championship height.
Watch how Daniel vs. Daniel and the rest of the field shakes out beginning with Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final – Round 1 on Wednesday, April 5 at 8 p.m. on the FEI.TV.
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