World turned upside down

A season without qualification – time for the final!

The current scenario is so strange that it’s doubtful that it would have figured in any show jumping enthusiast’s nightmares. Of course, we’re talking about the World Cup season in show jumping – or rather, the one that never happened! The story of the 2020/21 World Cup season could serve as a slogan for the world’s best illusionist: expect the unexpected. 

 We are all well-aware of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has paralysed economies and devastated lives all around the world. Naturally, equestrian sport has not been exempt, and events have been cancelled as they could not be held without an audience. However, one glimmer of light in the darkness is that some countries have been able to hold show jumping competitions by imposing strict rules with regard to contact and social distancing. A great many events have been cancelled, but – primarily in outdoor arenas – the sport has, to a certain extent, been able to continue.

 It is now time for the FEI World Cup final in show jumping at Scandinavium and a very special edition of the Gothenburg Horse Show. The international federation has ensured that the competition will be able to be held entirely without any audience, if this is what is required for the event to be held safely. Back at the end of February 2020, the world number one Steve Guerdat was leading the World Cup, ahead of Belgium’s Pieter Devos and the equally placed Daniel Deusser and Marcus Ehning. In the competition at Scandinavium, Geir Gulliksen pulled off a sensational victory that gave him 20 valuable World Cup points, as well as tenth place in the Western European League. Gulliksen, for whom the Gothenburg Horse Show is almost a home event, was unseated during his lap of honour, but thankfully with no lasting damage. In conjunction with the temporary World Cup rules that have been introduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this placing secured Norway’s place in the final in April. It is up to each country’s national equestrian federation to appoint an entrant to represent them – in this way, the 2021 World Cup final essentially resembles a selection-based contest.

 In this year’s final, Sweden’s chef d’équipe Henrik Ankarcrona has two places to fill, as the host country receives an extra place. Once the various countries have made their selections, 22 riders will represent the Western European League. Some things remain unchanged – Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat is still the world number one and, as the reigning World Cup Champion, qualifies directly for this year’s final. He will be joined by Martin Fuchs, who achieved a podium finish at Scandinavium in the 2019 final. The victor from the 2014 final in Lyon, Daniel Deusser, is currently third in the world rankings. You surely remember who took third place in 2019? Our man on the podium – Peder Fredricson – is currently fourth in the world rankings, and is already on his way to accumulating more points during 2021.

Who will end up on the podium in 2021?

Author: Kim C Lundin