Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward retained their crown at the 2024 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final, winning every leg over three days of championship jumping in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Heading into Saturday’s fourth and final round, the world no. 1 and his chestnut phenom had a rail in hand. Four faults and they’d force a jump off with speed specialists Julien Epaillard (FRA) and Dubai du Cedre. A clear would mean victory.

And they delivered. If not the smoothest round they’ve ever done, one of the most significant.

“It’s amazing,” said the Swede of winning back-to-back Finals. “It’s something I could never dream of when I was younger, that I would be two times winning after each other.

Epaillard took silver, jumping two fault-free rounds on Saturday to finish on a total of 4. Peder Fredricson (SWE) and Catch Me Not S had a single rail in the first round, jumping the rest of the course with a broken martingale, but returned with a clear in the second to take bronze on a total of 6.

Here are the top 5 takeaways from the World Cup Final press conference.

von Eckermann fell off in the warmup ring

Before the first round of the Final III on Saturday, von Eckermann and King Edward parted ways in the warmup ring. How did the world no. 1 manage the upset? Calmly.

“It doesn’t help to get nervous or stressed, because the horse feels everything and King Edward is anyway a very, very sensitive horse so for him when that happened I just said don’t worry, let’s stay calm and don’t let him feel that everything is a little not like it should be!

“We’ve been together so long, so we know each other so well. And, I have biggest confidence in King Edward, of course, that helps—to have that feeling in you that, even with this mistake, what happened, happened and it’s still zero on the scoreboard, and that’s what counts. So, just focus on that.”

Julien Epaillard is playing the long game

With the Olympic Games being hosted in Paris this year, Frenchman Julien Epaillard is leaving no stone unturned in his bid to make the home team. The World Cup silver medalist said Riyadh was a warmup for Paris.

“Okay, my mare was already great in the European Championships last year. She was good in Prague [GC Playoffs] also and in Geneva [for the Rolex Grand Slam]. I was coming in with idea to be on the podium, but also to learn her better before the Olympics this year. [The Games] in France is very important for us.

“So, I’m very happy of the result this weekend. I did a little mistake on the first day and also in the jump off on Thursday. But I think today the two rounds were superb. She was very relaxed and with me. She has a lot of energy. It’s good when she uses [it] to be with me and not [against] me. Today she was giving all this energy to the jump and was with me. So it was a great feeling.”

Take “note” of Peder Fredricson

Fredricson is typically the first rider to enter the ring for the course walk and the last to leave. He can be spotted on course with pen and notebook in hand, scribbling down his plans. Why the cheatsheet?

“I have a really bad memory and a bad sense of direction,” smiled Fredricson.

“I write down how many meters it is in-between the fences and how I will ride—how many strides that would ride, how I would ride the strides, if I ride forward or backward, or outside line or inside line. So then I have it. And after I walk the course, I go and visualize sometimes. If I’m not quite sure [about a line] rather than having to ask somebody was it 5 or 6 strides, I always have my notes so I feel secure about it.”

Fredricson has an attitude ofgratitude

A year and half ago Fredricson had a bad fall on a young horse at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Stockholm and spent three days in the hospital. On Saturday, he equalled his career best finish (third in 2019) at a World Cup Final on his 18-year-old partner Catch Me Not S.

“I’m really happy that I’m getting back. It took a bit of time. But now I feel my body is coming back, and, I’m really grateful to experience this, because it’s something very special to ride these events, these championships. You feel the adrenaline and everything—it’s a very special thing, so I’m very grateful.”

von Eckermann takes a moment in the moment

As defending champions, von Eckermann and King Edward now join an elite roster of horse and rider pairs that have logged back-to-back World Cup Final titles that includes Ian Millar and Big Ben (1988 & 1989), John Whitaker and Milton proved (1990 & 1991), Hugo Simon and ET (1996 & 1997), Rodrigo Pessoa and Baloubet du Rouet (1998, 1999, 2000), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Shutterfly (2009 & 2010). (Aside: Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Marcus Ehning (GER) hold the title for most wins at three apiece, but never on the same horse.)

What was going through the von Eckermann’s mind as he stood on the podium for a second time and the Swedish anthem played?

“I’m always trying to sing along. Very quiet, for myself. Because it’s a proud moment. And then you try to, you know, just feel that moment a little bit, and it’s a little bit of the moment where everything runs out of you. Somehow you’re happy that it’s over. But at the same time, you’re really proud and happy that it went this way.”

The World Cup season starts all over again in September.