Omaha, Nebraska – April 08, 2023 – The third and final competition of the of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final closed out the 2023 FEI World Cup™ Finals Omaha last Saturday night. Thirty combinations returned to the CHI Health Center Omaha for the first of two rounds, while the top 20 came back for the second round. The courses designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR) were championship tracks with both technical questions and big fences. Kansas-native Hunter Holloway (USA) and Pepita Con Spita were dubbed the hometown favorites and rose to the occasion in the high-pressure championship format to clinch a podium finish. Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) and King Edward claimed the FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final champion title, while Harrie Smolders (NED) and Monaco N.O.P. placed second.
“Obviously, Hunter’s podium finish was fantastic. She was so focused all week long. This wasn’t just the two rounds today; this was all four. She absolutely deserved to be there,” said U.S. Jumping Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland. “It is always great to be on the podium, but it is even more fun because she is a hometown girl. She is from the Midwest and to be on the podium in Omaha has got to be really special. The experience she got at the World Cup Final last year in Leipzig clearly put her in good stead for this week. She knew what to expect and she rose to the occasion, so that was fantastic.”
Holloway (Topeka, Kan.) and Pepita Con Spita looked calm and collected to finish as the top-placed U.S. combination. The pair knocked rails at fence three and 11B of the triple combination for eight penalties in round one to sit on 11 penalties. Despite the added penalties, Holloway and Hays Investment Corp.’s 2011 Westphalian mare remained tied for fifth place. Returning 16th in the order in round two, the pair delivered an excellent clear round to finish on 11 penalties to earn third place on the podium.
Holloway has been aiming for Omaha since her first World Cup Final appearance last year in Leipzig. “After we got the first one under our belt, she felt super,” said Holloway. “I felt like I knew she could do it and I could do it. So, I was just exited to come back and attack it again on home soil.
With two rails in the first round, Holloway had to ride her best when the pressure was at its peak. “I was really hoping to go double-clear, and I made a few mistakes in the first round,” said Holloway. “She was super. She should’ve been clear, I was not. I knew I really needed to fight for that clear round, every bit of it. And that’s what I tried to do the whole way round. Just fight for that clear round, every second, every inch.”
Devin Ryan (USA) and Eddie Blue were the second highest-placed U.S. pair in 13th place. They had an unlucky rail at 11A of the triple combination in the first round for four penalties to up their score to 15 penalties. Ryan (Long Valley, N.J.) and LL Show Jumpers, LLC’s 2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding had a similar occurrence in the second round when they barely tapped the front rail of the fence 9 oxer for four penalties and a final score of 19 penalties. Even with the rails, Eddie Blue showed fabulous form throughout the two rounds.
Nick Dello Joio (USA) and Cornet’s Cambridge finished in 20th place in their FEI Jumping World Cup Final debut, gaining valuable experience on the world stage. The pair had a rail at 11A of the triple combination for four penalties in the first round and increasing their total to 22 penalties. Dello Joio (Wellington, Fla.) and The Berry Group LLC’s 2012 Warmblood gelding had rails at fences three and 10 in the second round, tallying eight penalties and finishing on an overall score of 30 penalties.
“I’m very happy with Nick’s and Devin’s horses,” said Ridland. “[Eddie Blue] is back and jumping in great form at this level, and Nick and Cornet’s Cambridge are on an upward trajectory. Overall, Omaha was a very positive week.”
Place / Rider / Country / Horse / Final Score
1) Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) & King Edward – 5
2) Harrie Smolders (NED) & Monaco N.O.P. – 9
3) Hunter Holloway (USA) & Pepita Con Spita – 11
Source: Press Release by Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian Communications Department
Photos: © US Equestrian / Shannon Brinkmann Photography