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Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward crowned champions at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023

Sunday, 09 April 2023
Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Sweden's Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward were crowned champions at the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023 in Omaha, USA. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



“I can’t even put this into words,” world no. one Henrik von Eckermann said after he and the incredible King Edward had secured the victory in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023 in Omaha, USA, on Saturday night – adding another prestigious title to their long list of accolades. Returning to Omaha after placing third at the 2017 World Cup Final with Toveks Mary Lou, von Eckermann was a man on a mission from start to finish. However, the week in Omaha was full of ups and downs, twists and turns, and the excitement kept brewing until the very last pair was done jumping. 

“It was a bit up and down,” von Eckermann said looking back at his week. “On Friday, having the one down, I was somehow really disappointed but at the same time I thought that then he didn’t need to jump that jump-off and with the one point in between, maybe it was not so bad… And he felt really fresh when he came out. Tonight, we had a rail in the first round, but otherwise he felt fantastic, so for the second round I thought that we have to just trust him, and he is in a super shape, so we jumped three jumps in the warm-up and in we went – and he jumped unbelievable.”

Coming into Saturday’s two last, deciding, rounds, Andreas Schou (DEN) and Pius Schwizer (SUI) were tied on top on a score of zero, with Henrik von Eckerman (SWE) breathing them in the neck only one penalty point behind. Richard Vogel (GER) followed in fourth with two penalties, while Hunter Holloway (USA) and Yuri Mansur (BRA) were equal fifth with three penalties ahead of Harry Charles (GBR) and Harrie Smolders (NED) in seventh on five penalties. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ "I can’t even put this into words,” world no. one Henrik von Eckermann said after he and the incredible King Edward had secured the victory in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023 in Omaha. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

The Portuguese Level 4 course designer Bernardo Costa Cabral has – together with his team – through his sensible work contributed to great sport during the week in Omaha and Saturday’s final rounds were another proof of his brilliance. Once again, Costa Cabral asked for absolute accuracy from the riders while using delicate materials and slightly bended lines that gave a few options to vary the number of strides. 

The course for round one counted 12 obstacles and 15 efforts with a time allowed set to 62 seconds. Starting with six strides from the first vertical to an oxer at number two, the Omaha oxer at fence number three led to a plank at fence number four on four strides, followed by six or seven strides to an oxer at fence five. As the lines from three to four, and four to five, were slightly bended, a few riders managed to add strides, though most went for the options of four and six. With a roll-back to a green gate at fence number six, a bending u-shaped line with six strides through a vertical-oxer combination at fence number seven followed by five strides to the tallest fence of the course – a vertical measuring 1.63m – the track ended with a triple bar at fence number nine, followed by a very short four strides ahead of a white vertical at fence number ten, before turning left-handed towards the in-gate and an oxer-vertical-vertical triple combination at 11abc and a final five strides to a Longines oxer with a water tray underneath.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ "I was seventh with five penalties coming into today, so I trusted the course designer to build something technical and difficult. To move from seven to second is a great day for me," Harrie Smolders said after yet another runner-up position with Monaco N.O.P. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

It was Denis Lynch (IRL) and Brooklyn Heights (Nabab de Reve x For Pleasure) that posted the first clear of the night, and 2022-title defender Martin Fuchs (SUI) followed suit with Leone Jei (Baltic VDL x Corland). Sitting seventh overnight, Harry Charles and Balou du Reventon (Cornet Obolensky x Continue) were caught out at fence number 10, where the pair came too deep. However, even with four faults added, the pair still took over the lead with a total score of nine. Following Charles, Harrie Smolders and Monaco N.O.P. (Cassini II x Contender) jumped clear, taking over the lead with their five penalty points – putting pressure on those to come. Yuri Mansur and Vitiki (Valentino x For Expo) saw two poles on the floor, as did Hunter Holloway and Pepita Con Spita (Dsp Con Spirit x Come On), while Richard Vogel and United Touch S (Untouched x Lux Z) dropped down on the result list after adding twelve penalties to their score. Coming into Saturday’s final with one single penalty, Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward (Edward x Feo) had to add four faults to their score after the b-element inside the triple combination fell to the ground – still leaving the world no. one levelled with Smolders in the lead.

Overnight leaders Andreas Schou and Darc de Lux (Darco x Contender) had a disappointing three down, and dropped to seventh, while Pius Schwizer and Vancouver de Lanlore (Toulon x Le Tot de Semilly) had to see the a-element of the triple combination fall. However, despite his four faults, Schwizer kept his lead ahead of round two, with von Eckermann and Smolders hot on his heels with five penalties each. Charles was sitting in fourth with nine penalties, while Mansur and Holloway were fifth on a score of eleven faults.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Hunter Holloway and Pepita Con Spita impressed when finishing third. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

In round two, the horse-and-rider-combinations were once again faced with 12 obstacles and 15 efforts. This time around, the triple combination was moved to the beginning of the course, meeting the riders at fence 4abc, followed by a new wall at fence number five. Towards the end of the course, an S-shaped roll-back towards the in-gate through a liverpool at fence ten to an oxer at fence eleven with four strides to finish with a Longines vertical made sure to keep the riders at the top of their game until the very end. 

Finishing his campaign in Omaha on a high note, Denis Lynch delivered another flawless performance – the only double clear of the night. This time around Andreas Schou and Darc de Lux, Yuri Mansur and Vitiki as well as Hunter Holloway aboard the brilliant Pepita Con Spita all jumped clear, while Harry Charles and Balou du Reventon saw two poles on the ground – with hometown hero Holloway sitting in the lead with three pairs left to jump. When Harrie Smolders and Monaco N.O.P. had a pole down at the Visit Omaha-oxer at fence nine, they had to add four faults to their score but with a total of nine, they still moved to the top of the result list, pushing Holloway to second with only two left to go. But, like on so many occasions, von Eckermann and his incredible King Edward kept their cool, jumping clear and going into the lead ahead of Smolders in second and Holloway in third. Now, it was all down to Schwizer and Vancouver de Lanlore as the last pair out, but the pair saw two poles hit the ground – leaving the 2023-title with Henrik von Eckermann. 

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Harrie Smolders, Henrik von Eckermann and Hunter Holloway at the podium as the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final 2023 concluded in Omaha. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“That is my mentality; I don’t look backwards,” von Eckermann said when asked how he dealt with the ups and downs of the exciting and emotional week in Omaha. “When we have the chance still there, we go and try to take it and see afterwards when it is finished. King Edward, everyone knows him and what an amazing horse he is. This week, I came in here and I really wanted to win it, but even with a horse like this you know it can easily go the other way. I am so happy for the horse that he wins this, because he really deserves this win. Also having his owner Georg Kähny and his wife here; it is fantastic that they could be part of this today. With my wife Janika and my team, this has been a goal for a long time, and that it goes our way – it is an unbelievable feeling. Every day, I am so thankful for what I have; we have to remember how quickly it all can change and appreciate every moment.” 

“I am so lucky to have him, and so thankful for Georg Kähny that we have been able to keep him and enjoy these fantastic moments together,” von Eckermann continued to speak about King Edward. “After the second day, with only one point in difference, I saw it quite positive and when I came out with him today [after the first round], he felt better than all the other days; he was fresh and he was jumping good. I jumped very little in the warm-up because he felt amazing. In the first round I came in probably a little too far off to the oxer, protecting him a little bit too much from the front bar, and then he has so much power, so it was difficult to get him back. With that rail, I felt that maybe my chance was gone, but the way the class continued, the chance remained – and then in the second round he felt better than ever."

"This is what makes him so special; he is like a dog at home, so easy and relaxed, but when he comes into the ring, it feels like he grows," von Eckermann continued. "Some horses get shy, but with him it is like starting an engine. The quality that he has is just amazing and we are just trying to keep him mentally happy and physically in the best shape he can be. That makes the difference between a really good horse and the superstar that he is; he is just getting better and better every day. As a rider, when you sit on a horse like this, and have a feeling that the horse is just growing into it, it gives you confidence and it is an amazing feeling.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Jumping clear in Saturday's second round, Brazil's Yuri Mansur and his heart horse Vitiki finished fourth on the overall standings. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Harrie Smolders – second once again – was full of praise for his horse and not sorry about being the runner-up. “Monaco is truly an amazing horse,” he said. “If you see his statistics, his consistency is amazing – and he is still getting better and improving. I am so thankful to his owners Evergate Stables for letting me ride him. Henrik and King Edward were the favourites coming in, but still to win there is a different pressure and a lot to handle. I would have loved to go in the jump-off, because Monaco was feeling amazing in his energy levels and focus, this was probably a day I could have competed against King Edward. However, you don’t need to be ashamed to be second to them and have such champions in front of us. I also had one rail on Thursday, and maybe the energy we saved there is why the horses did something extra today. I was seventh with five penalties coming into today, so I trusted the course designer to build something technical and difficult. To move from seven to second is a great day for me.” 

Home hero Hunter Holloway did her World Cup Final-debut in Leipzig and when asked when she started to plan for Omaha after that experience, she quickly answered: “Immediately. I knew my horse could do it, and I knew I could do it, so I was just excited to come back and do it on home soil. I thought the courses were well suited to many types of horses and I think they were courses that made the riders ride every stride of the course; it is the World Cup Finals – it should be hard. I am from Kansas, so I love getting that home support here and it is a great feeling. I was hoping to go double clear tonight, but I made a few mistakes in the first round; my horse was super and should have been clear, but I was not. I knew I needed to fight for that clear round and that was what I did in the second round.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ In a league of their own: Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Bernardo Costa Cabral’s courses received a lot of praise, but the Portuguese was a humble man taking it all in. “Not one person can do these kind of tracks, there is a whole team behind it,” he said. “I went to Leipzig last year and we started planning immediately – but it has been tiring. We tried to test different things every day; to have the speed with some options but not a flat race, the second day harder, with more efforts, jumps quicker but not too big – just tall verticals. Today, scope with some lines where they had to flow; we tried to create different tests and I am very happy with the results. We had 18 four-faulters in first round and that is the dream for a course designer; we want to test, but we want the horses to jump well and when you have three clears and 18 four-faulters and then six clear rounds in the second round after all this jumping, I think the horses are ok – and I am happy with that. It is not easy to test these guys, it is hard, and to create variation in rhythm is one of the tools. One of my goals was to create space the whole week, so that they can do their own mistakes – and this creates problems to the rider and not to the horse.” 

“I have not won this title before, and I used to go to Gothenburg as a child to watch the World Cup and it has always been a huge goal and a dream for me to have my name on that trophy, so for me this is very special,” von Eckermann said as he reflected on his victory. “After Geneva, we set this as a goal, but even when you have a fantastic horse, we all know how it is with horses; it is very easy that it does not work out. Now, I have to take him home, he can go in the field and have some off time and then we see what suits him,” von Eckermann concluded when asked what comes next for the super-star pair.


9.4.2023 No reproduction of any of the content in this article will be accepted without a written permission, all rights reserved © World of If copyright violations occur, a penalty fee will apply. 

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