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FEI World Cup Jumps Into Action!

Helsinki in Finland plays host to the opening leg of the Western European League 2003/2004 FEI World Cup Jumping season on Sunday 19 October.

The series, first staged in 1978, will be celebrating its 26th year but without the guiding hand of long-time Director, Max Ammann, who stepped aside after producing the latest World Cup Media Guide which will be in circulation within the next few weeks.

So its going to be an historic new beginning this season, although Max’s tremendous legacy lives on.

For the first time ever the final will be staged in Italy when Milan’s Fila-Forum opens it’s doors from 21 to 25 April 2004 but, before that, there will be 14 tough qualifying rounds at the following venues:

Helsinki - 19 October
Oslo - 26 October
Verona - 9 November
Berlin - 16 November
Geneva - 7 December
Olympia, London - 21 December
Mechelen - 30 December
Leipzig - 25 January
Amsterdam - 1 February
Bordeaux - 7 February
Vigo - 14 February
Paris - 6 March
S’Hertogenbosch - 28 March
Gothenburg - 11 April.

German riders have dominated the series for the last two years, Otto Becker taking the coveted title with Dobel’s Cento at Leipzig in 2002 and Markus Ehning following in his footsteps in Las Vegas earlier this year when he came out on top with Anka, but the most spectacular performances over the entire history of the series have been produced by Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa and Baloubet du Rouet.

This horse-and-rider combination secured three consecutive victories in 1998, 1999 and 2000 and continued to stay in contention over the last three years when finishing second in Gothenburg in 2001, third in Leipzig in 2002 and runners-up again in Las Vegas in April 2003 – a remarkable record from a truly remarkable partnership.

Austria’s Hugo Simon is also a three-time World Cup winner but there was a 17-year gap between his success with Gladstone at the very first final in Gothenburg in 1979 and the double he scored with ET in 1996 and 1997. His two horses are just some of the super-stars which have emerged from the series – who can forget names like Jet Run, The Natural, Big Ben, Milton and Ratina, each with their own star quality and unique style of jumping.

World Cup jumping may be tough but there is a certain longevity about many of the horses and riders who have featured in the series since it’s inception.

Take Abdullah for instance. This great grey stallion which scooped the title for America’s Conrad Holmfeld in Berlin in 1985 was born in 1971 and only found his way to Horse Heaven in 2000 – his 29-year life-span an indication of the hardiness of well-cared-for equine athletes.

Some riders have become real World Cup specialists with Hugo Simon, Germany’s Franke Sloothaak and Britain’s Michael Whitaker all qualifying for the final on 15 occasions but it is Michael’s brother, John Whitaker, who holds the record with a total of 21 final appearances – two of which were winning ones.

At Helsinki next week John’s son Robert will be flying the flag along with promising new British team member Richard Davenport and seasoned campaigner Robert Smith whose father, Harvey, was the first rider to be awarded the Silver Medal for 100 World Cup competition appearances back in 1989. Germany fields a big squad including Franke Sloothaak, Soren von Ronne and Toni Hassman who is going for a hat-trick of consecutive wins in the Hartwall Arena.

Olympic Champion, Holland’s Jeroen Dubbeldam, has entered his championship ride De Sjiem and if the horse is fit it will be his first international appearance for almost a year. The French are in flying form after their Samsung Super League success and should present a strong challenge in the shape of Michel Hecart, Bruno Broucqsault and Olivier Guillon while Ireland will be represented by Lt David O’Brien who recently finished second in the national Kerrygold Grand Prix League series.

However two other riders will also be on a mission. Luck has not been favouring Ludo Philippaerts of late so the Belgian rider will be hoping to get his indoor jumping season off to a better start while Sweden’s Malin Baryard, who recently entered the elite top-10 group in the Rider Rankings, brings Butterfly Flip in an effort to pick up those valuable early World Cup points. Malin finished third in Las Vegas as the 2002/2003 World Cup season drew to a close. She has been consistently well-placed at major championships and tournaments in recent years and it seems like only a matter of time before she clinches individual glory for herself.

It is a long trip however from Helsinki to Milan and there is a lot of jumping to be done along the way….

THE WEBSITE for the first leg of the 2003/2004 FEI World Cup Jumping series which takes place in Helsinki, Finland on Sunday 19 October 2003 is Contact PRESS OFFICER Kati Hurme-Leikkonen at Mobile ++358 40 514 47 53 or Email:

The second leg will be staged in Oslo, Norway on Sunday 26 October 2003. Website: Press Officer Ingjerd Eriksen, Siri Klevaas – Mobile ++ 47 951 687 97. Email:

The third leg is at Verona, Italy on Sunday 9 November 2003. Website: Press Officer is Caterina Vagnozzi – Tel: ++39 06 321 8857, Fax: ++ 39 06 361 0419. Email:

BIOGRAPHIES on riders competing in the FEI World Cup Jumping series are available at

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE NEWLY REVISED RULES for the World Cup for Jumping Riders from FEI website: from the end of next week.

FEI World Cup Jumping has entered its 26th year. The series, created in 1978, today comprises 12 leagues on all continents. The best riders from over 100 World Cup preliminary competition will qualify for the Final which will be held in Milan (ITA) from 21 to 25 April 2004. The title-holder is Markus Ehning (GER) with Anka.


The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), founded in 1921, is the international body governing equestrian sport recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It is based on the principle of equality and mutual respect between all 130 affiliated National Federations, without prejudice to race, religion or internal politics.

Equestrian sport has been on the Olympic programme since 1912 with three disciplines – Jumping, Dressage and Eventing. It is one of the very few sports where men and women compete on equal terms. It is also the only sport which involves two athletes - horse and rider - and the relationship and mutual respect built up between them is the key to a successful partnership.

The FEI has relentlessly concerned itself with the welfare of the horse. According to the First Article of the Code of Conduct, ratified in 1991 and applying to all those involved in the well-being of horses, "in all equestrian sports the welfare of the horse must be considered paramount".


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