We’re just a month and change away from the start of Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals 2024 (April 16-20) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the startlist is beginning to take shape.

Last weekend marked the 14th and final leg of the 2023/2024 Western European League at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup of Gothenburg. Meanwhile, across the pond, only CSI4*-W Ocala, FL at Live Oak International this month (March 14-17) remains on the qualifying calendar for the 2023/2024 North American League.

In both instances, only some of each rider’s best results count toward their qualification points, based on the total number of competitions offered by their region. In the Western European League, that means each rider’s top-7 (of 14 total qualifiers) points go toward their total; in North America, it’s the top-4 (of 8 total qualifiers).

So who’s in? Who’s out? And who’s still riding the bubble? Here’s a look at what we know so far.

The Western European League

Arguably the most hotly contested World Cup division on the map, the Western European League offers 18 spots for top-placed competitors in the following countries: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

In terms of qualified riders this year, there are few surprises in the top-10, with plenty of cross-over from the Longines rankings list.

The current World #1 of more than 19 months, Henrik Von Eckermann (SWE), for instance, has maintained a dominant hold in the Western League standings despite having an automatic berth as the 2023 Champion.

He’ll enter Riyadh with 86 points; 10 or more points ahead of the next three, closest competitors: Harry Charles (GBR) and Peder Fredricson (SWE) both on 73, and World #2 Ben Maher (GBR) on 72. Kevin Staut of France rounds out the League’s top-5 on 70 points.

Three-time FEI Jumping World Cup Champion Steve Guerdat of Switzerland—next on the list with 68 points—will be contesting his fourth title this year in Riyadh.

Also in the hunt: Pieter Devos (BEL) on 67, Max Kühner (AUT) on 61, Hans-Dieter Dreher (GER) on 53, and France’s Julien Epaillard, who currently sits at #5 in the Longines Rankings.

If you’re keeping track at home, we’re up to 10 riders. And, interestingly, Guerdat, Devos, and Dreher have qualified on multiple horses within the top-20, meaning those extra spots will clear the way for three more hopefuls.

By our calculations, that means the following eight competitors can all expect a bid according to their current rank in the standings: Lorenzo De Luca (ITA), Mariano Martinez Bastida (ESP), Simon Delestre (FRA), Marcus Ehning (GER), Gregory Wathelet (BEL), Scott Brash (GBR), François Xavier Boudant (FRA), and young-gun Philipp Schulze Topphoff (GER), 26, who finished in the top-20 in his FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals debut in 2022.

The North American League

In North America, the qualification process gets a little more complicated, dividing the berths by region in America, and by country elsewhere on the continent.

Spots are offered to the top seven riders from the USA’s East Coast, the top three riders from the USA’s West Coast, the top-two Canadian riders, and the top-two Mexican riders. (Mexico, however, does not have any riders contending the North American League standings this season).

It’s worth noting that only four of the top-10 athletes in the North American Standings actually ride for either the USA or Canada (more on that in a minute).

It’s a fact that has everything to do with the Paris Olympics, taking place just four-plus months after the World Cup Final. While many of America’s top combinations will be saving their best horses to peak in the City of Lights this summer, it’s clearing the way for a clutch of new (and seasoned) hopefuls to take center stage.

Among the most likely West Coast contenders is top-ranked Jill Humphrey, currently on 39 points. The California-based rider earned back to back, third-place finishes at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cups of Las Vegas and Fort Worth, returning to World Cup Finals 17 years after her last appearance in 2007.

Also hailing from the West Coast: 19-year-old Skylar Wireman on 37 points, who would be making her first Finals appearance this year.

The East Coast will likely be represented again by Devin Ryan (30 points), who finished second at FEI Jumping World Cup Finals in Paris in 2018.

Top on the list to fill the remaining six spots: Alise Oken (25 points), also making her first appearance; Finals regular Katie Dinan (24 points); and the woman, the myth, the legend Margie Goldstein-Engle (21 points)—who, at age 65—hasn’t competed a Finals in more than a decade.

Also in contention for the East Coast are familiar names Kent Farrington and Lillie Keenan, with 15 and 13 points, respectively, and Charlotte Jacobs, also a Finals rookie, on 11 points.

Sitting on 30 points in the standings, Canada’s Vanessa Mannix is comfortably placed to represent her country for the first time in her career.

Meanwhile, with just five points or less separating them, are compatriots Amy Millar (11 points), Mario Deslauriers (7 points) and Tiffany Foster (6 points). CSI4*-W Ocala may play a significant role in determining Canada’s second contender.

Which brings us to one of the more complicated aspects of Longines FEI World Cup Finals qualification: the “extra riders” clause.

Sitting on 63 points, Irish rider Daniel Coyle looks very much like the man to beat in this hemisphere, having widened his leading margin to a full 20 points after back-to-back wins at recent Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Qualifiers in Leipzig and Amsterdam. 

Israel’s Daniel Bluman (43 points), Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam (41 points), and Great Britain’s Jessica Mendoza (40 points) make up the remaining top-four.

All these riders—with the likely addition of others from Ireland (Conor Swail), Colombia (Nicolas Gamboa), Switzerland (Beat Mändli), Brazil (Cassio Riveti) and beyond—will qualify as extra athletes in the location where they currently reside. The key point: they must have the same amount of points or more as the last-qualifying athlete in the region they call home.

For Coyle, who resides in Ontario, that means more points than the second, (still-TBD) Canadian rider to qualify. With more than five-times as many points as any of those athletes currently, though, Riyadh is a sure-bet for the Irishman.

For East Coast-based Bluman, Sweetnam, and Mendoza, they’ll needed more points than the last-ranked American rider (currently Jacobs on 11) to qualify from that coast.

So there you have it! Who are you betting on to the climb the podium this spring at the 2024 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals Champion?